Creativity Is a Trait, Like Red Hair or Hazel Eyes

I doubt there’s ever been a time in our human history when people everywhere on every continent have been focused at the same time on one thing: Corona Virus.

I’ve been distracted by the spread of Corona Virus and puzzled by the rapid disappearance of toilet paper from stores everywhere. The run on toilet paper has spread beyond the United States. Day after day, in Europe, China, Japan, and Australia ALL the toilet paper is bought in the first hour or two after stores open. This is a strange behavior in a challenging, stressful time.

Stress, as you might already know, impacts your immune system. And not in a good way. Walking outside is one way to alleviate stress. Being creative is another stress reliever. And here’s some good news. Creativity is a trait just like red hair, hazel eyes, and a slender build are traits. Like physical traits, creativity is determined by genes and influenced by the environment. When creativity is nurtured, it grows. Any trait can also be influenced by behaviors. Hair can be grown long or cut short, a slender frame can carry a lot of weight, poor eyesight can be improved by wearing glasses. Creativity is influenced by behavior, too.

It turns out that exercising (developing) your creativity by engaging in creative behaviors can increase happiness, improve brain function and mental health. Repetitive actions like knitting, drawing, and writing help activate the flow state, and when you’re in the flow state, dopamine is released in the brain and that’s what creates the feeling of well being.

Engaging in creative activities, like coloring, painting rocks, doodling, drawing zentangles, writing poetry, making pottery, planting flowers, working on puzzles, playing an instrument, etc., cause your mind to focus. When your brain (mind) is focused away from things that cause stress, you feel better.

I’ve been painting in preparation for exhibit (that may be rescheduled to a later date) at Freedom Park in Prescott, Wisconsin. I’m trying some new things, too. I’ve made four zines (mini books) in the past couple weeks. Working on the zines sharpens my writing skills and I was inspired to learn more about creating characters (like comic book characters). My first efforts are clumsy. But I had a lot of fun making them. The one below was made for a friend who’s day started off in a less than stellar way.

Looking on the Bright Side (a zine)

If you’d like to read Looking on the Bright Side, email I’ll send you a PDF you can print and directions for making the zine. All you need is one sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper.

Create the life you want to live.

Resources to Inspire Your Creative Mind:

Whatcha Mean What’s a Zine: The Art of Making Zines and Mini-Comics a book by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson

Song Birds (a zine) by Austin Kleon

7 Common Traits of Highly Creative People

“Here’s How Creativity Actually Improves Your Health” – Forbes magazine article

Zentangle YouTube video

Inspired by Blue Sky

Blue skies
smiling at me
nothing but blue skies
do I see.

~Ella Fitzgerald, Singer 

I never get tired of blue skies.

~Vincent Van Gogh, Painter

The traveler who has gone to Italy to study the tactile values of Giotto, or the corruption of the Papacy, may return remembering nothing but the blue sky and the men and women who live under it.

~E.M. Forester, Author

Artists, song writers and singers, poets and novelists create art and music that helps us recall the magic and universal love we have for blue skies. It’s a calming color, according to psychologists, who also suggest that humans see it as a stabilizing, reliable color. Looking at it can even help lower the heart rate and body temperature.

I love to paint skies and clouds in every season. This small 5 x 7 inch oil painting was done with a palette knife. These special painting knives were designed and first used in the 17th century to mix paints on artists’ palettes, but artists will paint with anything that’s available—fingers, sticks, grass, bones, and palette knives. By the mid 1800s, they were in wide use among artists, who used them to apply thick paint fast. And that makes them a perfect tool to use in Minnesota, where I live, because winter temperatures almost always makes paint thick and difficult to manage with a brush.

Who has Rights to Artwork?

When someone buys a piece of artwork, who really owns it? The creator or the buyer? Under copyright law, the creator has the exclusive right to:

  • Distribute the work in any form
  • Make copies of the work in any fixed form (digital or print)
  • Display the work in pubic or on a website
  • Make derivatives of the work by modifying or changing an original work, and
  • Publicly perform the work (includes performing music, book readings, films, etc.)

If you’ve watched home improvement shows, the Property Brothers, for example, you may have noticed that all the artwork hanging in homes is blurred out. The Property Brothers would be infringing on an artist’s rights and violating most or all of the above if they made a copy (captured the work on video/film) and displayed it in public (on their TV show).

Creator’s Rights

Congress passed the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), which grants two rights to authors of visual works: the right to prevent intentional distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work which would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation; and the right to prevent the destruction of a work of “recognized stature.” VARA is limited to only to a “work of visual art,” which the statute designates as paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and photographs, of a recognized stature, existing in a single copy or a limited edition of 200 signed and numbered copies or fewer. Photographs must have been taken for exhibition purposes only. Posters, maps, globes, motion pictures, electronic publications, and applied art are explicitly excluded from VARA protection.

Finally, for works created on or after 1990, protection expires with the death of the author. Also, VARA rights cannot be transferred but can be waived if the author expressly agrees to waiver in a signed written instrument with the required specificity.

Buyer’s Rights

A buyer can resell an original work of art. The artist can object to a sale if their artwork will be used in any way that has a negative impact on the artist’s reputation. The artist still maintains all copy rights to their work, however. For example, the artwork could be sold to a manufacturer of greeting cards, but the card company would not have the right to reproduce the art and distribute cards unless they also have an agreement with the creator of the artwork.

Buyers can display artwork in their homes, but they can’t use the art on, for example, posters or bumper stickers or t-shirts. The owner can, however, make copies of the artwork for personal use on a website or on printed material when the purpose is to sell the artwork.

Copyright can always be transferred and depending upon the stature of the work, it may be in the best interest of the buyer to ensure certain rights are transferred before the purchase, especially if the work has a high value.

Will a Certificate of Authenticity Add Value to Artwork?

The short answer is yes even if you’re just starting out. Don’t assume, if you’re an artist, that your work will never have the kind of value that requires authentication. Having this provenance in place will actually increase the value of your work when that time comes. A detailed Certificate of Authenticity helps collectors trace the history of artwork and prove that it’s original.

The Gift of Dreaming

SPRING ICE, 3 x 3 inches, polymer clay on birch panel. NFS


Until about 30 years ago, painting with oils on canvas was part of my everyday life. Then I stopped painting. Sometime after that I also stopped remembering my dreams. And that made me sad, because I loved my dreams and considered them a gift to myself. I started creating art again in the spring of 2015 and within weeks I also began to dream again. It’s not a coincidence. My dreaming is connected to my creative work.

“Spring Ice” (2015)