Friday, March 23, 2012

On Creativity (featuring Maureen Doallas)

In this series of posts (which I’ll occasionally post on Fridays), I will feature an artist, writer, blogger, or thinker. I’ll include a little information about them, and their answer to a question or two about creativity.
I “met” Maureen Doallas a couple of years ago, through her blog (so in blog years, we’ve known each other for a decade). She is a writer, poet, and editor, and runs Transformational Threads, an art-licensing business. She is a tireless champion of the arts, sharing the work of many types of artists on her blog, Writing Without Paper. I admire the diversity of work she features (as in her Saturday Sharing posts or artist profiles), and her ability to unearth multitudes of resources. The word that always comes to mind when I think of Maureen is generosity.

Q: How does learning about other artists affect your own creative work?

A: As you know, Hannah, art is close to my heart. I have long collected art (I have a special interest in artists' books), and I visit as many artists' sites and studios, virtual and real, as possible. I never tire of looking at art, reading about art, thinking about art, or writing about art. And I couldn't imagine living without artwork in my house. I especially enjoy sharing conversations about the artistic process (though "process" is not a word I particularly like), what influences the making, how concepts are realized, where materials are found. I find not only a common language, if you will, but also inspiration. A painting or photograph or piece of sculpture can set me thinking about something in a new way, send me on a search for information, or serve as a writing prompt.

A: In what ways are research, curiosity, and education helpful to you (and to other artists)?

I think deep and abiding curiosity is characteristic of anyone who's creative. Curiosity impels investigation into how things work, what someone thinks, where influences overlap or diverge. It urges both a looking within and a looking without.

People often express surprise at what I share on my blog, wondering how I find what I do. I let my curiosity be a guide (I sense it as second-nature) and, inevitably, it leads me to research - I consider knowing how to do research on the Web a skill - and, more important, to taking a chance on looking behind first one link and then another, until I'm satisfied I have satisfied my interest. When I'm doing an interview, I find it's curiosity that leads me to ask a particular question and research that tells me whether that question is going to be relevant to the artist with whom I'm conversing. I'm not content with the usual questions, and I like to get at the underside of things, where so much truth waits to be mined. If I'm writing a poem and it's based on something or someone in the news (as, for example, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei or the revolution in Egypt, for which I have written poems), I might research the event or the person, especially if I'm incorporating facts, so that I can better feel my way into the subject. I don't approach poetry-writing analytically, however. For me, writing poems is a way to make sense of my world and what's happening in it, and when it works, that is, prompts personal response from others, I consider myself lucky.


  1. Thank you, Hannah, for the lovely opportunity to be featured. I very much appreciate your kind words.

  2. what a lovely introduction to Maureen who always makes insightful comments to your poems...I will be back to check out her blog but not today...I am sooo busy! Have a great weekend! I like how blog years = many more physical years : )

  3. Thanks for introducing me to Maureen's blog and excellent series Hannah!

  4. Your new short and sweet Friday feature is a good idea. I look forward to more of them.

    I also agree with Maureen about getting a glimpse into the creative process of others. That's endlessly fascinating to me.


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