Illustrated Booknotes - The Artist’s Way

Every month I put together a series of Illustrated Booknotes as part of a book circle I’m a member of. I usually choose five or six key points to illustrate. Below I’ve also included theothernotes I note when reading the book.


Nothing dies harder than a bad idea

The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel. - Piet Mondrian

*what if I was a channel for all of my life? Get out of the way. If I don’t claim ownership for cartoon ideas, then why not apply this to other areas

Get out of the way, let it work through you

God must become an activity in our consciousness. - Joel S. Goldsmith

Leap, and the net will appear.


Make this a rule: always remember that your Censor’s negative opinions are not the truth.


Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us. With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us.

Make your own recovery the first priority in your life. ROBIN Norwood

Undoubtedly, we become what we envisage. CLAUDE M. BRISTOL

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. ELISABETH KÜBLER-ROSS

Anyone honest will tell you that possibility is far more frightening than impossibility, that freedom is far more terrifying than any prison. If we do, in fact, have to deal with a force beyond ourselves that involves itself in our lives, then we may have to move into action on those previously impossible dreams.

Life is what we make of it. Whether we conceive of an inner god force or an other, outer God, doesn’t matter. Relying on that force does.

“Ask and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened to you….” These words are among the more unpleasant ones ascribed to Jesus Christ. They suggest the possibility of scientific method: ask (experiment) and see what happens (record the results). Is it any wonder we discount answered prayers? We call it coincidence. We call it luck. We call it anything but what it is—the hand of God, or good, activated by our own hand when we act in behalf of our truest dreams, when we commit to our own soul.

When we answer that call, when we commit to it, we set in motion the principle that C. G. Jung dubbed synchronicity, loosely defined as a fortuitous intermeshing of events. Back in the sixties, we called it serendipity. Whatever you choose to call it, once you begin your creative recovery you may be startled to find it cropping up everywhere.

Following his own inner leadings brought him to experience and describe a phenomenon that some of us prefer to ignore: the possibility of an intelligent and responsive universe, acting and reacting in our interests.

We like to pretend it is hard to follow our heart’s dreams. The truth is, it is difficult to avoid walking through the many doors that will open. Turn aside your dream and it will come back to you again. Get willing to follow it again and a second mysterious door will swing open.

STELLA TERRILL MANN The universe is prodigal in its support. We are miserly in what we accept. All gift horses are looked in the mouth and usually returned to sender. We say we are scared by failure, but what frightens us more is the possibility of success.

In his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, W. H. Murray tells us his explorer’s experience:


Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative [or creation] there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have believed would have come his way.

If you do not trust Murray—or me—you might want to trust Goethe. Statesman, scholar, artist, man of the world. Goethe had this to say on the will of Providence assisting our efforts: Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it. Goethe


Stop thinking and talking about it and there

is nothing you will not be able to know. ZEN PARADIGM

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. SENECA

We must learn to let the flow manifest itself where it will—not where we will it.

Look and you will find it—what is unsought will go undetected. SOPHOCLES

“Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all things will be added to it,”

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us. We will continue to work this week with our ideas surrounding money. We will see how our ideas about money (“ It’s hard to get. You have to work long hours for it. You need to worry about money first and creativity second”) shape our ideas about creativity.

Learn to accept the possibility that the universe is helping you with what you are doing.

Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown. CLAUDE BERNARD


Every loss must always be viewed as a potential gain; it’s all in the framing. Every end is a beginning.

Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life. LINUS PAULING QUESTION: Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn to play the piano? ANSWER: The same age you will be if you don’t. “I’m too old for that” ranks with “I don’t have money for it” as a Great Block Lie we use to prevent further exploration. “I’m too old” is something we tell ourselves to save ourselves from the emotional cost of the ego deflation involved in being a beginner.

“I’m too old” is an evasive tactic. It is always used to avoid facing fear.


Creative people are dramatic, and we use negative drama to scare ourselves out of our creativity with this notion of wholesale and often destructive change. Fantasizing about pursuing our art full-time, we fail to pursue it part-time—or at all.

Indulging ourselves in a frantic fantasy of what our life would look like if we were real artists, we fail to see the many small creative changes that we could make at this very moment. This kind of look-at-the-big-picture thinking ignores the fact that a creative life is grounded on many, many small steps and very, very few large leaps. Rather than take a scary baby step toward our dreams, we rush to the edge of the cliff and then stand there, quaking, saying, “I can’t leap. leant. I can’t….”

Take one small daily action instead of indulging in the big questions. When we allow ourselves to wallow in the big questions, we fail to find the small answers.

Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear.

The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist. The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all.

We usually commit creative hara-kiri either on the eve of or in the wake of a first creative victory. The glare of success (a poem, an acting job, a song, a short story, a film, or any success) can send the recovering artist scurrying back into the cave of self-defeat. We’re more comfortable being a victim of artist’s block than risking having to consistently be productive and healthy.

Be really whole And all things will come to you. LAO-TZU

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. ALBERT EINSTEIN

Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with, work with.

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. JALAL UD-DIN RUMI

He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened. LAO-TZU

I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five or six mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day. BRENDA UELAND

It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. SOMERSET MAUGHAM

If I sabotage my artist, I can well expect an eating binge, a sex binge, a temper binge. Check the relationship between these behaviors for yourself. When we are not creating, artists are not always very normal or very nice—to ourselves or to others.


If you are happier writing than not writing, painting than not painting, singing than not singing, acting than not acting, directing than not directing, for God’s sake (and I mean that literally) let yourself do it.

As artists, we are spiritual sharks. The ruthless truth is that if we don’t keep moving, we sink to the bottom and die. The choice is very simple: we can insist on resting on our laurels, or we can begin anew. The stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew.

You are lost the instant you know what the result will be. JUAN GRIS

The goal is to connect to a world outside of us, to lose the obsessive self-focus of self-exploration and, simply, explore. One quickly notes that when the mind is focused on other, the self often comes into a far more accurate focus.


survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention.

My grandmother knew what a painful life had taught her: success or failure, the truth of a life really has little to do with its quality. The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.

More than anything else, attention is an act of connection.

The poet William Meredith has observed that the worst that can be said of a man is that “he did not pay attention.”

Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests. Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation.

Answered prayers are scary. They imply responsibility. You asked for it. Now that you’ve got it, what are you going to do? Why else the cautionary phrase “Watch out for what you pray for; you just might get it”? Answered prayers deliver us back to our own hand. This is not comfortable. We find it easier to accept them as examples of synchronicity:

The universe will reward you for taking risks on its behalf. SHAKTI GAWAIN