The Creative Epiphany – Albania’s Newfound Self-Esteem

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Here in the USA it is Sunday morning and several of the news programs aired segments about some tenement buildings in the capital of Albania – broken-windowed buildings torn by war, neglected, abused and abandoned, that have been transformed and revitalized by the bold and joyous colors of new paint. The EU apparently objected to this radical change – for reasons we are not sure. The Prime Minister of Albania objected to that proclamation, persisted, resisted and basically said, “We are going to go for it,” in a gutsy move.

He went on to say, in one of my favorite quotes of all time, “Beauty is more intimidating than brutality.”

What an epiphany we have here!

To think that pride, creativity, thinking outside the box and positive initiative manifested in the addition of simple, stunning COLOR in some coats of paint could bring about such a paradigm shift in public thinking and collective self-esteem. Drab, often mafia infested neighborhoods, wasted, forgotten and forlorn, accepted and rejoiced in the jolt of some paint and ….what resulted….was optimism, pride and hope. That absolutely can only be seen as great. Sometimes it is the simplest things that make the most monumental changes for the collective good.


The Creative Epiphany – The Evolution of Your Creativity

DSC00133  Whether you are an artist, a designer, a writer, a musician, a chef, a dancer, a climber – whatever creative path you have chosen that tests yourself – your creativity reaches maturity at some point, given your particular set of skills and how far you are willing and capable of taking them. It has nothing at all to do with chronological age. You can be a fine painter and have mastered your craft by the time you are 40 or even earlier, or perhaps you do not reach artistic maturity until you are 68. But at some point, if you have been diligent about your skills, you feel that you have gained maturity in that particular expression. It does not really mean you have totally mastered all aspects of your craft – it simply means that your expression of it is leveling out to some consistent quality of predictable  goodness. You have reached your full potential, you are as satisfied as you will ever be with your mastery of the craft and you continue to float there, happy as a clam. OK.

The question then becomes, how innovative are you? Will you continue to bravely evolve? Evolution of your creativity is a whole different animal than maturity. Are you mature and stagnant or are you mature but still young at heart and adventurous? Are you stuck in achievement’s sweet success or are you gutsy enough to experiment beyond your comfort level and actually continue to evolve, risking raised eyebrows and looks of confusion in your loyal clientele when they witness the new direction? Will you continue to test yourself and question yourself? Many fine creative people will decide to stick with the known, resting on their laurels, maybe even talking about them incessantly, rather than putting their established reputation on the line and offering the world a fresh, new idea.

It might seem as if an artist, for example, who changes his/her style dramatically and almost overnight has lost his mind, because as a general rule an artist’s  voice evolves gradually over time…. people can track the subtle changes over the years and see them up close in retrospective shows. They can see things coming – they are never too surprised because nothing very drastic has happened. If that artist is thinking outside the box only in the back of his/her mind, down through the years, he perhaps has always considered a second style of expression without doing anything about it.

But many fine artists are multi-faceted and jump from one media and style to another. You know their famous names. Rarely, except in the case of the creative genius, does that happen almost over night and unexpected, but it does occasionally occur. And it has nothing to do with the number of years that have passed or the level of maturity. I will offer my opinion here that most often a giant, somewhat shocking creative leap of faith is purely emotional in origin, set off by some set of circumstances that happen to that artist that  scream CHANGE to him/her. Implementing and revealing that change through creative arts becomes almost involuntary and reactionary – it is after all, an expression, a vision, an epiphany of sorts, the cause of an effect, a previously unuttered  statement. It reveals things, often resulting in shock and awe. How exciting! How stimulating! What a great surprise! Who knew?

In the extremes, dramatic change can signal the end of a long struggle, and the re-emergence of bright optimism. It can also signal the entry into sadness or depression… chances are, the observers will know which it is, or that it falls into the gray areas between. Everyone has a story to tell about how their styles evolved and what the catalysts were for those morphs into the unknown, uncharted territory of new creative expression. We should applaud them for opening a vein and bleeding it all out there. That requires courage and adrenaline because it involves private information of personal internal change.  Your creativity is a visual diary, after all. Use it or lose it. Show it so we know it. Be yourself. Be authentic. Hide little. Share. That is true creativity at its best.

For some examples of stories illustrating this subject, read my book THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY by Jo Ann Brown-Scott available on, in particular the chapter by Southwest artist Randy Pijoan, titled “My Majenta Return.”

The Creative Epiphany – Sea Changes

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If I had to go back over my life and single out the biggest, most life-changing epiphanies, they would number 10 or less. Of course I’m grateful for the smaller but much appreciated epiphanies and I don’t mean to discount them, but in the overall scheme of things they were not the cause of paradigm shifts. They were not on the grand scale of the ones that rocked my world, added wisdom to my years, and affected a “sea change” type of transformation for me.

The phrase “sea change” is frequently used these days. I like this description, in large part due to its origin. A century or more ago when men went to sea for long stretches of time, their women waited. They had no idea when the ship would come back and no dependable way of finding out. A year? Maybe much longer… They climbed the stairs to the “widow’s walk” at the top of their homes and stood there for hours searching the horizon for incoming vessels. When and if the men returned, they were often deeply changed by the adversities of the journey they had endured; their eyes had a permanent vacant stare, they spoke little of the things they had seen such as starvation and brutality. Their women referred to it as a “sea change”, a profound change brought about by the time spent at sea. I believe that change can be considered a change similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But now the phrase “sea change” is being frequently used again, this time to describe a major life change, a 180 degree reversal of some kind, a  transformation, a paradigm shift. When you have a gigantic epiphany the result is often a permanent “sea change” – for you it has brought about a transformation, a realization, an illuminating discovery or a light in the darkness showing you a clear path. I can only hope that you have experienced this phenomenon, because you will be a better person for it. It doesn’t make you perfect, but it does make you a more authentic human being. What greater change could you ask for than one of the sea variety?

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