Beware of Biohazard

This week I met up with a friend I haven’t seen since college—we went to a “drink and draw” event in Brooklyn.  This is a page from my sketchbook.  We were yapping away the whole time- probably annoying the other “drink and draw-ers” — but we had to fill each other in on the past few years of our lives.  It had been way too long since I had seen her. Besides, it was drink and draw- and we were in Brooklyn—laid back.

It felt nice to just make something and not worry about what it looked like for a change.   I tried these pure kneaded chunks of lead that my friend brought- super cool medium to use- until I freaked out.  Picture a soft lump of creamy lead with no protective wooden pencil around it.  Now imagine twirling and smearing it around in your bare hands when you suddenly remember how the people in Flint Michigan ingested lead.   Omigosh!  Must wash hands. Right. Now.  My friend said she used gloves with the stuff before. We both stopped using it. I finished this drawing with black marker.  It was fun.

I probably suffered from toxic chemical overdose considering I had spent the entire day in a makeshift studio I’m using to paint a large scale oil painting.  The room has no ventilation. I’ve been wearing a mask but I feel extra spaced out after a days work.   It’s more than just average spaciness from accessing my right brain. When I work in that particular space three days in a row I get a killer sore throat. Not so good. Luckily, the project’s almost finished.  I won’t be working in oil in a space like that again.  Lesson learned.  That’s the thing about making stuff- it’s easy to get so caught up in the process that you forget about the toxicity of the materials you’re using.  It’s a fine line.  I balanced the beer from drink and draw, lead poisoning, and turpentine inhalation with jogging on the river, yoga class and a green smoothie—It all works out in the end.  I feel good about it.

Have fun making stuff but don’t go crazy! Cheers!



Only in NEW YORK.

I got in a cab on my way to my weekend bartending gig last week– running late.

Cool-I think.  A chance for quiet meditation to clear my head before serving the masses.  Wrong.  Murphy’s law was at work– I got a “talker” for a driver.  Lucky me.

The Guy starts in immediately–

“This construction on Houston ‘as been goin’ on for nine yeeahz, can ya believe it?”

“Yeeeeup.” This. . . . is annoying. I try to shut him down with coolness and one word responses.  No luck.

“You like French cuisine?” he says.  Cuisine?!?  This is more than annoying.

“Uh, ‘s ok.” Even if he picked up my disinterest- he didn’t care. I actually love French food, but I don’t love small talk first thing in the morning.   He’s now telling me how he used to cook on a cruise ship.

“Really.” I sigh back. I kiss my quiet meditative cab ride goodbye.   Then he starts getting into the preparation of his signature dessert.   He’s talking about the tartness of lemon zest offsetting a creamy texture complete with a round finish on the palate.   I’m still annoyed- slightly amused.   He’s now talking reduction and simmering.  Wow, he is really passionate about French desserts.  My cab driver was a food artist.

I gave up fighting the conversation- It was going to happen whether I liked it or not.

“Sounds like your passion is cooking.” I chirp from the back seat.

“I love it, he says, but I’m actually a computer science engineer.” Woah.  Weird.

Then he starts in about working for Microsoft (or some big company in that vein) for X amount of years and how he retired early because he made a fortune– he hated the nine to five.  He says he drives a cab for fun because he enjoys talking to people—clearly.  On some level—I do get it though.  People in New York are interesting.    This guy is so New York.  He was interesting.  

Then he starts telling me about his wife’s obsession with the times crossword. She needs absolute quiet in the house to complete it. Ha- not surprising.  So she sends him off to drive his cab to give her the space she needs for her Saturday word ritual.  Smart Lady.

“I love entertaining people and being on stage!!” He says. Ha—clearly.   He starts telling me he’s been in a pile of movies and advertisements. He has an agent- he did a stint in advertising.  I’m not surprised.  This guy is the most entertaining cab driver I’ve ever had.  Only in New York.  The enthusiasm for life in this guy is infectious.  I am inspired.  

Then he tells me to look for the the NYC “beefcake” cabdriver calendar— because you guessed it: he’s in it.  


“That exists??” I ask. Get. Out.   My mind does a quick memory scan for past hot cabdrivers that I’ve had. . . . . . . and. . . nope—-I got nothin’.   I look at him a little closer — hmmmm . . . He doesn’t give off the creep vibe– He’s too interesting and nerdy in a scrawny- middle aged- New York City – eccentric -Woody Allen kinda way.

But “beefcake”- he is not.

“Check it out” He hands me his iphone with a picture on the screen.  Yup—it’s a real thing.   And ahh yes—should’ve known-  It’s a joke calendar— Only in New York.  But it’s really good- It’s well done- photography is quality.  I am cracking up—I am reminded again how much I love this city. I am inspired daily by the art, the music, the scenery, the madness,  but more than anything- it’s always the people.  I am smiling all day.

***This calendar made me laugh so hard, It’s a thing!  Please click:


Friday’s post is about fun!!!  Making stuff can seem like a catch 22.  Both focus and time are required but you can’t really tap into your creative flow if you are stressed and tired.

I challenge everyone to go out and do something fun!!! and then see if you can channel that energy into something creative–

FUN!!!!! This Friday is about FUN.



It’s WORKWEEK WEDNESDAYS! . . . . .On Thursday. . .

As I struggled to put this together at 1:30 am last night after a day of volunteering, teaching a class, lugging supplies and biking all over the tiny island I realized something about writing.  It’s work, and last night it was not happening for me.

I calmed my nerves, took a deep breath——- and nothing.  I drank some caffeine, I got mad,  yelled at myself internally —- and no.   That technique never works.  I shook it off- gave myself the ‘ol pep talk:  You got this girrrl, you can do it – easy peasy—focus Clare– aaaaand nope.  Didn’t work either.  I prayed to the muse, nothing.  Words refused to come out of me last night. This post was not. happening.  I was spent.

I am still learning about my own writing process and the time and energy it takes.  A detail I decided last night for this blog (a work in progress by the way) was this:

Wednesday’s post will be on Thursdays from now on.    It makes more sense given the nature of my weeks and the energy I need for writing.   If John Oliver can do Last Week Tonight– I could certainly do Wednesday on Thursday.  Why not?

So, You can now expect:  WORKWEEK WEDNESDAYS on Thursday.   It makes more sense— it’s slightly off but somehow- It works.   I’m goin’ with it.

My writing process, I’m noticing, is much different than the visual design process that I know well.  I’m learning about it as I write on a schedule with deadlines (although self imposed).  Writing on deadline is something I haven’t done since college.

I’ve been working as a visual artist for years and I understand my own visual creation process well.   The headspace that I need for art is far from the verbal, structured organized headspace that I like to be in in “the normal world”.

My “art headspace” is “out there”.  The place I need to be in in my head to think visually and receive good imagery and bring it into form takes at least an hour to get to- sometimes more.  I have to scratch and sketch through thoughts and words until finally—aha- I’m there.  I’m in the visual zone.  I don’t think in words there—there’s no time—it all flows—and when I have a deadline, I plan for those extra hours of internal travel time accordingly.  It’s a nice place to be- some artists live there- often really good ones.   They are natural inhabitants of what I call planet Art-Head.   I don’t live there but I travel there often for work.

My “writing headspace” is much closer to the way “the world as we know it” generally operates.  It’s the place I’m in when I write contracts and invoices, emails, or have a heated discussion.  Our world, from my perspective (in the west) is structured verbally- words are how we’ve been conditioned to communicate.   Expressing ourselves through them should be quick and easy because we’re used to it.  Using words (writing) is not so far off from my normal thought process.  I naturally think in words.

I’ll  just bang out this post—super-quick. Bang!  Wrong.   Apparently organizing my thoughts and words is not as easy as I thought.  Even talking requires energy- exertion of any kind takes a toll.

*I overestimated my energy bank/ work ratio for the week and voilá!: WORKWEEK WEDNESDAYS on Thursday was born.  I was upset at first.  Now I’ve embraced it.  I’m happy with this accident and super content with the discoveries I’ve made along the way.

Everyone’s process is unique.  Everyone’s head is too– What does your head look like inside?  Where do things make sense or come naturally?   Where are they difficult?   Do you live on planet Art Head?  or are you of Math-Mind?  Maybe you’re sincerely Heart-Headed.       I challenge you to observe your own head while you make something.    Write, draw, make up new words to your favorite song, or bake a strawberry pie — and watch your head while you do it.  It’s fascinating!! and fun. . . . and strangely surprising.

And if you’re interested in more about the writing process, here are two books about it that I found supremely insightful:  Steven King’s will surprise you.

*Writing Down the Bones:  Freeing the Writer Within   by Natalie Goldberg

*On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft     by Steven King

. . . and thank you for reading this- time is precious.






Mondays are about MOJO

What inspires YOU?

Every act of creation requires work and focus- and just like physical work requires food, creative thought requires “food for thought”.  Problem is, who has the time?!?  My weekly “should do” list of talks, openings, readings and lectures hangs over my desk too often overlooked. It lives in the shadow of the non- negotiable “to do” list.. . . . sigh. My quiet shame in not doing the “shoulds” get’s pushed aside by the fact that I have to do laundry—right this minute. I’m wearing my bathing suit under my jeans for undies and the laundromat will close soon.  Non-negotiable.  Sigh. . . . . .

Living in NYC is a catch 22.   Most of us (especially creative types) are neck deep in the grind working harder than ever to afford to live here because it has gotten outrageously expensive.

And when you ask us why we live here?–

“It’s because of the culture, the arts- the institutions. . . . . obviously”.  And when was the last time I actually went to a museum?

“Uh, well ummmmm. . . . . . I went to see my friend’s band 3 weeks ago. . . . . ”


How is it possible I’ve been starving myself from the bounty of creative sustenance that’s everywhere in my city?!   This is bad.   Yet, I don’t feel like I’m starving at all.  I never feel less than inspired to make stuff.     How is this possible?

I forced myself to think about what inspired me last week and I realized:  Inspiration literally is everywhere and not only in the obvious spots. 

I was inspired by the rastafarian playing drums and lecturing on shamanic drum culture on the 6 train and then the jazz trumpet player in Thompkins Square Park as I rode past on the city bike, obviously. Then I got inspired by the deep belly laugh I had about a certain political candidate with the random lady in front of me in line at the grocery store. I saw someone help a woman they didn’t know lift a baby carriage up the stairs in Union Square because she was having trouble and I realized how much random human connection inspires me.    I was inspired by the way the light turned the sky into an orange rainbow behind the silhouette of the city.  Ahhh yes, nature.  I was inspired by the way a wheaten terrier wearing a plaid sweater made direct eye contact with me at a cross walk and then gave a slight bow as if he was saying hello. Oh right- and animals.

Inspiration is everywhere if you look for it—and expect it—although you may have to shift your focus slightly.   It’s hard to define or tell someone where to look or how because it’s different for everyone- but I assure you it is there. When was the last time you were touched by something? in awe? amazed or moved?   I challenge you to look for that more in your own world—you might be surprised and . . . . maybe you’ll get inspired—

Feel free to tell me about it . . .

and have a nice week. . .  🙂

Friday starts with “F”


I almost didn’t post this.

I almost didn’t post this because FEAR came up to me this morning with a list of things that were “more important” that absolutely had to get done today and there simply wasn’t enough time.

Fear is a liar.

Then Fear came back as a sly soothing voice in my head and said—“you don’t need to post on Fridays –really, just start off slow- don’t kill yourself- you need to take care of you first- give yourself a break”.

Fear is clever.  Don’t trust it.

Fear followed me as a running dialogue in my head my entire jog this morning.  Annoying.   Just as I started believing and justifying putting off this post, I began to see past fear’s newest clever mask.   I stopped and looked directly in fear’s ugly face while it continued to try and bully me into defeat.   I shook my fist at it.

     NO, FEAR- YOU WILL NOT GET ME TODAY.  I said it in my head but I actually did shake my fist at the air. I’m sure a handful of other joggers at the park now think I’m crazy. It’s ok- some things are worth minor embarrassment.

 So, this is my declaration to defeat fear: I’m calling you out FEAR.   I’m not running anymore.  

Fear doesn’t ever go away, and it will come after you too but we can defeat it. It’s universal and it haunts us all.   It comes up every single time I make something which is pretty often.  But every time you stand up to it- it loses power. And standing up is worth it.  It is worth it.   Making stuff is life.  The ability to create is our birthright as humans.

I hope you get inspired to create more and that it might help you to know that it’s scary for everyone.  Every artist I know thinks they are terrible—especially the really good ones- but they do it anyway- because it’s worth it.   They’ve managed to find a way past that voice inside that says “I suck” or they’ve gotten really good at ignoring it.  It is totally worth the effort, making new stuff is always worth it.

You don’t have to be a painter, writer, musician, actor, or dancer to be creative.  You could make anything!!   Make a hat for your dog out of popsicle sticks or a tech company that sells custom algorithms.   I’m serious. Just make something. It’s about “the making” and – I think your dog would love that.

So, Let’s not wait for necessity to breed the creativity in us- do it now- create new things, ideas, potions, ways of doing things, and structures in the world. Clearly the old ones aren’t working.   We need your stuff.  Everyone’s.  Believe it.  The possibilities are infinite.

Here are a couple of books about the creative process that have really helped me:  I found them pretty substantive- not overly fluffy or too “self-helpy”. .  not that there’s anything wrong with that. . . 🙂

  •         The Artist’s Way    by Julia Cameron
  •       The War of Art    by Steven Pressfield

 ***How do you handle the struggle?  Or avoid handling it?   I’d love to know– tell me about it in the comment section. . . . .




Wednesday is about the Work

welcomenew*Every week I spend countless hours working alone. I dive into the lonely abyss of the imagination and try to bring things out of it that are useful to clients and/or people. Then I paint, draw or create them digitally.   I share the end product but I don’t ever share what I discover along the way which is the best part. I find the creative process fascinating.

Please get inspired to dive into the abyss too.  It’s really lovely.

Or maybe I just need to talk to people (you) again because I’m by myself all day.

Or maybe I want to tell you about my weird experiences to make sure I haven’t gone completely insane—it could be that.  The more I paint the more I’m driven to write about it.  I feel a strong pull to connect back with words.  I have to write about the work I do. I can’t not.

And I would love to hear about your experiences with making stuff.   Feel free to make some sentences in the reply box at the bottom of the post’s page.

It’s fun- I swear.