Picasso: Art as a form of diary

picasso #art #artist #painting
Photo by Cecil Beaton 1933 © The Cecil Beaton Archive at Sotheby’s

Art is where our mind’s eye merges with reality to create a theater inside our head, resulting in the form of a diary. This was especially true for Pablo Picasso.

Picasso was perhaps best known for his practice of public journaling via painting. “My work is my diary. I have painted my autobiography,” he said.

Picasso grasped his inner thoughts and projected them on canvass. His art gave us a peek inside his head, such as his relationship with partner Marie-Thérèse Walter in his formative years.

picasso tate modern #museum #art
‘The Dream’ (1932) Private collection © Succession Picasso/DACS London

Art is therapy

Art is an instrument for coping, part mental therapy part expression. Bottling his thoughts without letting them go would’ve driven Picasso insane. Whether it is painting, writing, or playing sports, we exercise our bodies to verify that we’re still alive.

As Picasso and so many other artists illustrate, self-expression has a real and irresistible pulse.

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Seth Godin on writer’s block

writers block
gif via rewire.org

Writer’s block is a myth created by people who are afraid to the do the work.

There are various reasons writers let the blank page get the best of their emotions.

  • Trying to be too perfect
  • Procrastinating en route to excuses that usually include the word “But….”
  • Unwilling to fail or write poor sentences first
  • Living up to someone else’s expectations
  • Being afraid to share the work

Writer’s block appears to be the work of the evil. It wants us to quit and hide in shame instead of “dancing with the amygdala” as Seth Godin pleads on the very subject in his new podcast: No such thing (as writer’s block)

In reality, no one gets talker’s block just as a plumber never get’s plumber’s block. Stuckness is a work of fiction.

Forget inspiration and do the work

If we choose to be professional, we choose to show up consistently and dance with the fear. We develop habits that allow us to unlock what Steven Pressfield’s calls ‘the resistance‘, compelling the muse to work with us rather than against us.

Says Godin on the resistance:

“The resistance never goes away. The more important the work is, the louder it gets. The harder you try to make it go away, the hard and more clever it gets in response. The work is doing it when you don’t feel like it. Doing it when it’s not easy.”

Fear leads to intertia which leads to regret. We start by doing it poorly and zigzagging through the maze of bad ideas. And then we tweak.

As Martin Luther King Jr. alluded to, “Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Perfection is futile. The best time to be ready is right now. Don’t whine, don’t complain, get to work and make things. And refuel with Seth’s podcast below:

Support the blog…

I spend hours each day digging the web for interesting gems and remixing them here. If you enjoy reading wellsbaum.blog, please consider becoming a patron or making a donation. You can also contribute as little as $1 below with just a couple clicks. Thank you.

Make a one-time donation

Contributing to the blog would help me immensely. For every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.


‘To be or not to be. That’s not really a question’

Photo by Stefano Pollio

“To be or not to be. That’s not really a question,” quipped film director Jean-Luc Godard back to Shakespeare’s most famous line.

To be is rather a false start. We think that success breeds confidence, but it’s actually the little lessons along the way that build up our future.

Struggle makes us human

Similarly, it is our impairments that deem to weaken us that actually but end up making us stronger. As we overcompensate for our flaws, we excel in creating our own unique survival methods that are almost impossible to replicate.

Humans should march slowly, unattached to the cult of action, tolerant to their defects.

Said Malcolm Gladwell: “A lot of what is beautiful and powerful in the world arises out of adversity. We benefit from those kind of things,” but “we wouldn’t wish them on each other.”

We are all underdogs in something, a compromise that gets us out of bed in the morning and back to work.

The gateway to light is the eye

A short-term realist, a long-term optimist.

Can one hedge against fear and doubt while simultaneously pushing for a better and brighter future?

Most of us struggle in bear markets, when confidence ebbs into despair. We can only permit pertinacity.

What keeps one going is the light at the end of the tunnel, connecting the slightest ideas to extend the road through all perceived hurdles.

The obstacle is the way, they say.

Necessity is the mother of invention. If we can’t tolerate ambiguity along the way, we’ll most certainly give up.

If the gateway to light is the eye, persistence lies in the guts.

The link between praying and writing

When acclaimed South African novelist and Nobel Prize winner JM Coetzee was asked about the writing process, he compared it to the effort of praying.

“In both cases it’s hard to say to whom one’s discourse is directed. You have to subject yourself to the blankness of the page and you wait patiently to hear whether the blankness answers you. Sometimes it does not and then you despair.”

JM Coetzee

Of course, some writers believe the blank page is non-existent. They suggest that one should write poorly until they produce something of substance. Better yet, consider the work philosophy of Vincent Van Vough: “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile.”

Faith can move mountains

Photo by Kristopher Roller

“There is a positive correlation between the fear of death and the sense of unlived life,” writes Oliver Burkeman in The Antidote.

Futuring is a tough business. We toggle between our present number of choices along with desires and goals that reinforce the prioritization of time.

Knowing that we can’t do it all, most people reach for what’s most immediately accessible and end up regretting about what could be. They stifle themselves in exchange for feeling ‘safe.’

For others, death compels action. Their gut instinct refuses to accept standing still and succumb to mediocrity. Yet, their expedition may incorrectly rest in jealousy, a fear of missing out, rather than chasing a purpose.

Faith in the unseen

Our vocation chooses us. We grade our impact by how much we cling to that sense of priority rather than chasing other people’s dreams.

In reality, there is nothing out there that will make us fulfilled forever. But the attempt to cultivate happiness by pursuing what’s meaningful remains a noble attempt to maximize our time on Earth.

All writing is in the edit

Like photography, all writing is in the edit.

When you fall into writer’s block — a myth, by the way — you should move freely between devices, formats, and even different places in order to shake out of it.

Here’s one recommended writing approach

First, start writing on paper to help generate ideas. Anything goes. Then type out what’s worth keeping on to your phone to finesse your text. Better yet, throw the first draft onto different apps like WordPress, Byword, or iAWriter and then process it for grammar through the Hemingway App or my favorite writing assistant, Grammarly.

Blogger Michael Lopp sums his writing process up nicely in “How to Write a Blog Post”:

Repeat until it starts to feel done in your head. If it’s handwritten, type it into a computing device. When you are close to done, print it out on paper. Sit somewhere else with your favorite pen and edit your work harshly. If this piece is important, let someone else edit harshly.

That’s right! Print it out and edit it in a different place altogether. Some writers think better to the hum of the coffee shop, JK Rowling included. Others need absolute silence, preferring to stare at a wall so that the only work to look at is the one being created in the mind’s eye.

The writing process is messy one that includes not only different formats but also different spots and positions. Sometimes a paragraph starts on paper; other times it starts on your smartphone. Just be ready to review it a few times before you hit publish.

Take a break and debug yourself

The work isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it just keeps coming. Your productivity will ebb and flow to the whims of the daily grind.

But there is one thing you can do to bring back your focus: take a break.

“Taking regular short breaks, of even just one minute, gets you out of habitual thinking and behavior. It provides you space for awareness to arise and to see things clearer.”

A simple break may also release you from the prison of traditional thinking. Our dominant thoughts aren’t always the best ones.

As Umberto Eco reminds us: “We like lists because we don’t want to die.” But in order to stay alive, we also need to destress and unthink.

There will always be another chance to ride the wave of opportunity. A clear mind may increase your chances of surfing the right one.

There is a time for everything

giphy (48)
gif by John Corsi 

The time you spend away from your task still qualifies as work. That includes doing the dishes, running errands, and taking care of the kids—whatever responsibilities you think to impede your central occupation contribute to its success.

British novelist Jon McGregor gives a good example of how he manages his writing despite making time for everything from Tweeting to taking care of his children.

“I rarely manage a whole unbroken day at the desk. And it can be frustrating, sometimes. Once or twice a year I manage to get away somewhere and live like a hermit for a week, eating and sleeping next to a desk and talking to no one and getting a lot of work done. Imagine if I could work like that all the time, I think, then. Think how productive I’d be! But if my life was always like that, I suspect I’d have very little to write about.”

Locking yourself away in isolation is a forlorn attempt to escape all that matters. Patterns can backfire, especially when it comes to creativity which thrives on observation and sudden randomness.

There is a time for everything

While productivity can be messy, time away from work is not squandered time. Instead, it is spent accumulating experiences and visualizing how the ideas you’re chewing on will all come to focus when you sit down in and commit to the day ahead.

The discipline of work is just as necessary as the chaotic daily tasks of life. In fact, the best things in life often disrupt it, forcing you to rethink priorities and see how it all connects.

Contrary to popular opinion, busyness is not a badge of honor. Life seeds all the ideas.

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Write a memoir to make sense of your life

via giphy

“Why write? To write. To make something.” – Claude Simon

Most people think of writing as a creative outlet. But it’s also an instrument for coping.

According to recent studies, writing your own memoir has various psychological benefits. Whether for private eyes or for public viewing, writing extensively about traumatic events helps you break free from the cage of anxiety.

“Psychologists believe that by converting emotions and images into words, the author starts to organize and structure memories, particularly memories that may be difficult to comprehend and accept.”

Words can save your life

Making sense of the past not only gives you perspective, it also strengthens your personal operating system by refocusing attention on what matters.

Want to better control your inner-narrative? Consider funneling your thoughts from mind to paper by starting your own memoir.


Goal setting 2018 where all believing is betting

Photo by Wells Baum

Offbeat, except in normal life.

Shaken, not in rage to be stirred.

A contrarian, narrowed into a consensus view.

Constant surprises, a search for settlement.

Ludicrous ambition, tolerable mediocrity.

Finally a new year, with more conviction this time.

Writes Gary Lachlan in The Caretakers of the Cosmos: “Without goals, without some purposeful anticipation, we live, Frankl said, only a ‘provisional existence’, a kind of marking time which is really a death in life.”

In the game of goal setting, all beliefs are gambles.

10 Products That’ll Make Interesting Holiday gifts 🎁

Below is a list of ten items I think you might be interested in, including products that’ll help improve your cognition, creativity, productivity, your inner-spirt, and maybe your wallet too! Note that if you do buy anything from the below, I may receive a tip of sorts.

1. Get yourself and others some Bitcoin.
giphy (10)

Who knows if it’s gambling or investing, both? It’s not too late to get into Bitcoin — remember you can buy a mere fraction — or any of the “cheaper” alternative currencies. If you sign up at Coinbase with this link, both of us get $10 worth of bitcoin!

2. Study the genius mind of Leonardo Da Vinci.


“To truly be creative, you have to work across disciplines,” said author Walter Isaacson earlier this year on Leonardo da Vinci’s creative genius. After five years of writing and research (‘gathering string’) comes the eponymous book Leonardo da Vinci, an excellent gift for art lovers and creative types.

3. Field Notes“I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.”

This is my favorite notebook because it’s small and sturdy enough to fit in your side pocket so you never have to miss a good idea. If you’re looking for a good pen to go along with it, I can’t recommend the smooth writing of Pilot 35334 Precise V5 enough.  

4. Give your fellow traveler or athlete good feet massage with Foot Rubz.

5. Start standing now with Spark desk by Ergodriven.

They say sitting is the new smoking. When I was looking for a standing desk this year, I didn’t want to spend more than $100. Luckily, I stumbled upon the $25 Spark desk from Ergodriven. It’s sturdy and easy to put together, highly recommended.

6. Stand on something comfortable with this anti-fatigue mat.

If you’re going to stand and work, please also consider the Topo by Ergodriven. It’s not your typical standing mat; it encourages various stances that will sustain your work energy.

7. Doodle your heart out with 140 color gel pens.

“Children learn through play, but adults play through art,” said Brian Eno. Doodle your heart out with your kids or in your own adult coloring books with these 140 color gel pens.

8. The PureRelief XL help relieves back pain.

The best part about the PureRelief XL King Size Heating Pad is that it heats up immediately and goes after 2 hours so you don’t have to remember to unplug it.

9. Start the new year in the right mood

After reading Spontaneous Happiness: A New Path to Emotional Well-Being by Dr. Andrew Weil this year I immediately stocked up on some of the essential fish oil, Vitamin D, B-6, and a good multivitamin he prescribes to sustain a healthy mood.

10. Keep your phone charged 24/7 with this portable charger.

Until Apple develops solar-powered rechargeable phones, we’re stuck with external phone batteries. Still, this portable power bank gets the job done. I took one with me on a recent trip overseas and stayed charged the entire time so I’d never miss a good photo opportunity.

You can also shop all of the above items minus Bitcoin on my influencer list here.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out Amazon’s Gift Guide for even more gifting ideas.