Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Whitney Ferre - Creative Insight

Whitney Ferré has been helping the average person unlock their creativity for over 12 years. She has helped hundreds of people to find their creativity as founder of the Creative Fitness Center. The Center first gained national recognition on HGTV. Today she continues her outreach leading corporate seminars, teaching art classes, and as a creativity expert on television & radio. Whitney is also an artist, a wife, a mother, and a co-owner of Rumours Wine Bars that build communities around food, wine, and art. She lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.
In this blog she talks about the role of creativity in her life.

Wayne: What part has creativity / creating played in your life?
Whitney: In the two houses in which I grew up, my mother and I created an “Art Center” under the stairways going down to the basement. We painted the first one all yellow and the second one all red. Both times we bought stencils and spray painted the words, “Art Center ” on the small triangle of wall under the stairs. There were shelves and all kinds of art supplies. Only really advanced and fancy projects were encouraged! Favorites were covering bottles with masking tape and staining them with shoe polish (to look like leather I guess? It was the 70’s…) and dripping old crayons onto salad dressing bottles to use as candle sticks. Instead of lemonade, I sold tooth pillows on the corner that I had sewn from fabric scraps. I STILL grew up saying that I could not draw and that I was not artistic. But, I was always told that I was creative. Maybe that is why I have been drawn to a bit of a pioneer existence. I have thrived on blazing new trails, even if they were just new for me personally. Don’t tell me I “can’t do” something. That will get my wheels spinning!
For me, my creative spirit means that I will have no regrets when I look back on my life because I have never/at least rarely said “that can’t be done” or “I can’t make that work”. I have climbed mountains, sold books door to door, opened 4 small businesses (including an art center and a restaurant), and gotten off to a stellar start raising three little kids! When I visit with others who did not receive this creative encouragement, they are often frustrated in their current situation and don’t seem to realize that they have the power to create change in their lives. It makes me sad and wish I could sprinkle some creativity dust over them so they would strike out into the unknown to create the life they desire.
To that end, I am doing the best I can.

I am the author of a newly published book, The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit. The “Artist Within” is what I call our right brain voice. It is the voice that is focused on the big picture, unconcerned with your past failures or any fear of future worries. Becoming “Creatively Fit” is about our physiological ability to strengthen our mental capabilities, specifically our right brain/creative muscles. The book is a future best seller and readers are energized and inspired by what they read and their own personal experience as they brave the blank canvas and the canvas that is their lives!
So creativity has truly been the unifying force of my life and the magic I love to share!
www.creativelyfit.com www.creativelyfit.wordpress.com

Wayne: In what ways do you express your creativity?
Whitney: It is expressed in everything I do. It is the playful attitude, the courage to reach for new heights, the never-give-up attitude because there is always something we can do to change a negative situation….I would love to just paint more, but creating opportunity, creating connections….Creativity is elemental and infinite. It keeps life interesting!

Wayne: Was there a point in your life when you recognised that you were creative? How did that come about?
Whitney: The biggest thing I remember is my mom always saying, “You are so creative.” I don’t think I felt THAT creative. I really wanted to be able to paint like Liz and draw like Jennifer. I knew it could not be normal to have heart palpitations walking into a yarn store at age 11. I have always freaked out over color. That stood out for me.

Wayne: How would you describe / explain your creative process, in particular do you have any 'habits' that support your creativity?
Whitney: For me, it is when I stop the voice that says “You can’t…”, “You’re not qualified, or old enough, or good enough.” It is when I confidently say, “I can do that!” when I never have. But that is because the creative force is not simply contained inside of my physical body. It is an energy, a force outside of me. If I become fearful it is because I am denying that external force. When I relax, it is able to channel through me and create amazing experiences. Watch Liz Gilbert on
www.ted.com speak about Creativity. That is what I am talking about—the “genius” of ancient Roman civilization that hovered in the top corners of the artists’ studios and was responsible for any phenomenal creations. So fun!

Wayne: What suggestions / tips would you give to others who want to explore their creativity?
Whitney: Give your right brain something to do so it can get stronger. The more you think, “I can’t do this. I have other more important things to do…. (left brain talking) the more you are on the right track. It can be easy, easy, doodling, cutting and pasting,etc. Realize that you have the ability to strengthen your mental muscle just like your physical muscle. Get in shape!
More about Whitney and her book in a later blog - I want to read it!!

Creativity Questions

I like talking with creative people - always have - and I have been interviewing people as part of my on-going research [term used loosely] into things creative for sometime now.
I have decided to do something with the information I have already as well as seeking more so . . . . .

I am proposing to write two 'playbooks' [as opposed to workbooks] - working titles - The Dimensions of Creativity and Habits for Creating. They will contain a variety of activities, quotes, games, profiles of creative people etc. I wanted to expand my research a little wider so I emailed a bunch of people around the world through a creativity network of which I am a part [The Creative Skills Training Council - http://www.cstc-apa.com/] seeking answers to the questions below.

The questions were:

1. What part has creativity / creating played in your life?

2. In what ways do you express your creativity?

3. Was there a point in your life when you recognised that you were creative? How did that come about?

4. How would you describe / explain your creative process, in particular do you have any 'habits' that support your creativity?

5. What suggestions / tips would you give to others who want to explore their creativity?

6. What role do any of the following 'creativity dimensions' play in your creative process?

  • vision

  • reality

  • courage

  • curiosity

  • competence

Now, if you read this blog and would like to contribute then I would welcome your contribution.You can email it wayne@future-edge.co.nz. All contributions will be acknowledged.

So keep a eye on this blog because each of the contributors will be profiled - adding to those that are already on the blog.