Art is a Metaphor for Innovation (Part 1 of 2)

shield-223326_640Art is a metaphor for innovation. Since art is not restricted by materials or functionality, it is a potent ingredient for change. When I worked as an industrial designer, I was inspired by observing colors, lines and forms from nature. I was particularly drawn to insects, especially their bright colors and funky patterns. I am still surprised by the effect of these wild combinations! Then there are the natural forms of shells, fossils, skeletal structures, plant geometry and so forth. I noticed a certain geometrical law in these, known as the golden rectangle. It is a law that is repeated in nature over and over again. I started applying this law to my designs. Applying this geometry made the designs feel right. This was quite a magical discovery for me! This formula offered a foolproof formula for creating proportions and aspect ratios. I especially appreciated how timeless the designs became. By applying these laws, the designs stayed stimulating years later.

I became curious: why did the golden rectangle feel better to me? I discovered that nature is made up of the same elements (earth, water, fire, and air) as ourselves.

Earth is represented in nature as weighable substance. In ourselves, these are our bones and other physical matter. In art this can be seen as physical substances such as paint, clay etc. It is also represented when earth tones are used.

Water is represented in nature as water and movement. In ourselves, this is constituted by the water in our body. Studies over the years have estimated that we are made up of the range of 50% to 75% water. This variation depends greatly on age, as infants have more water in their body. In art we see water as movement, by the incorporation of water in a piece and the use of the color blue. Imagine the colors of the Caribbean, or the Greek Aegean Sea.

In nature, fire is found in any warming process and in our body it is also our warming process. In art, fire is represented by the colors red, orange and yellow.

Air is found in nature as oxygen and is breathed in and out by ourselves. In art, it is represented as the lighter spectrum of colors from blues to white. It is therefore not a complete mystery why the geometric laws that apply to nature universally feel right for us too.

Clearly, I was not the only one inspired by nature. Visiting museums, I would often recognize these patterns and color combinations in paintings. I still love witnessing interpretations of nature: whether it be on canvas, or as an abstract composition.

The Art of Your Business Tribe

Colourful heads, Creative Commons, Ivan Walsh via Flickr.

Colourful heads, Creative Commons, Ivan Walsh via Flickr.

In the present day, your business may also be viewed as a tribe. Art puts you in touch with the soul of your company and helps you communicate this soul to your clients. Art is a tool for envisioning new products or services, depicting products, creating a new marketing or business plan, and much more. It creates a whole new visual language for your business and aligns the visions of all your employees. Much like the tribal medicine man, art can create your own business’s medicine.

Art was connected to spiritual and religious rituals and ceremonies. Historically, in indigenous tribes, the artist has been called many names; a shaman, medicine man/woman, doctor, yogi, medium, seer and healer. They led spiritual/ religious rituals heavily connected to the natural elements. By communicating through spirituality and the elements to the tribe, they created unity and converted people to their cause. The visual context created an understanding that moved beyond the simple spoken and, later, written word. The spiritual leader spoke to the collective subconscious and inner/instinctive drives. In addition, events in time were often commissioned as art pieces. Think of the biblical paintings lining the walls of major religious architecture worldwide. From the Egyptian pyramids and ancient temples to modern day religious buildings, architecture itself was commissioned to convey religious messages and agendas. A parallel might be argued between the examples above and modern day marketing. Marketing in the sense of propaganda and social commentary, and its power to influence the collective subconscious.

Art is a Mirror

Part of 'Turning the World Upside Down', sculptures by artist Anish Kapoor in Kensington Gardens, Creative Commons Graham Hogg.

Part of ‘Turning the World Upside Down’, sculptures by artist Anish Kapoor in Kensington Gardens, Creative Commons Graham Hogg.

The Arts is a broad term. As a sensory language, The Arts encompasses visual arts, dance, music and literature. I like to focus primarily on the visual arts aspect in this book. Visual art makes a visible connection with our elements/subconscious and is a term that is loosely defined by drawing, painting and sculpture. How does visual art fit into our world? We have specially designed institutions for both viewing and protecting the definition of art. We have museums storing examples of art through millennia. In these places, we can trace our human evolutionary history spanning the Stone Age to the modern day. Through the art others left behind, we can learn much about what was occurring during different periods of human existence. Art documents history, the evolution of values and changing creation stories. For example, when we compare images from ancient Egypt to those from ancient Greece, we may notice that the Egyptians were less concerned with human anatomy. Ancient Egyptians saw life on earth as a preparation period for their next life, while ancient Greeks very much celebrated the physical body in its current form. Thus each culture reflected in its art what was culturally significant at that time. In this sense art acts as a mirror, reflecting our world back at us and keeping this reflection for future generations.

Art and business are two words that have gone hand-in-hand for millennia. Prehistoric Rock Art was a way of communicating important cultural messages through carvings and drawings. Think of the famous rock art sites at Lascaux at Chauvet,. Through art, researchers have been able to illuminate much of human history. Indigenous people used drawings and paintings as an artistic representation of hunting by marking out animal tracks and waterholes where animals were likely to congregate. Tribal artists were also the source of self-expression on behalf of their tribes. At the same time, they were healers and visionaries, who gained spiritual insights through visions, called in the rain and created healing ceremonies for the tribe.

Intuitive Knowing Leads to Business Opportunities (Part 2 of 2)

Valles Marineris, Creative Commons, Ittiz.

Valles Marineris, Creative Commons, Ittiz.

Through the medium of color, line and form, certain emotions are brought up within us. We meet parts of ourselves that would otherwise be difficult to reach. There are areas in our life and business that are unfamiliar to us. They can be emotions and feelings from long ago. Behaviors that helped us cope with situations. You know, that stuff in the closet. Often, I have seen that those things in our closet are purer then the truths we have adopted from others. The closet can house both fantastic qualities and weak points. When we get familiar with our inner world and hidden qualities, we can make them work wonders for us. Even our so-called flaws can be the building blocks for a potential masterpiece, when we use them creatively. We can allow our inner world to start finding its match in the real world. Imagine how amazing it is to have our inner and outer world in full harmony! Only then we can put away our masks and be the powerful beings that we truly are, at work and in private life!

In a nutshell, creating art is a process of making contact with the essence of who you really are. In a business setting, this means creating art helps you and your employees get in touch with your company’s vision, mission, perspective, emotion, ethics and other team members. The outcome of the art process is to translate these into practical goals and strategies that yield profits in a sustainable way.

Intuitive Knowing Leads to Business Opportunities (Part 1 of 2)

Inverted qualia of colour strawberry, Creative Common by Was a bee.

Inverted qualia of colour strawberry, Creative Common by Was a bee.

When we use art to connect to our natural instincts and intuitive knowing, a whole new world of business opportunities open up. By connecting our strategies, projects and business to the laws and cycles of the natural world, using the tools I describe in part III, we gain clarity about the projects we are working on. Art strengthens our vision of where we are heading and what we need to get there. That is why art can help us sculpt out strategies right before our eyes and build projects from the chaotic clay of floating ideas into sharp business targets.

I have spent years observing people drawing and painting in my courses, retreats, workshops, art therapy and coaching sessions. During my observations, I have seen expressions of happiness, concentration, surprise, focus, anger, sadness, insight, confusion, confidence and fascination. Creating art is generally a joyful and meaningful experience, although we can definitely encounter brief moments of frustration.

There is no doubt that during the act of creation, the act of making art, our whole being makes contact with another world. This is the world of the color, line and form. It is also the world of our innermost drives and archetypal nature.

Linz PA Museumspark Parkbank, Creative Commons-Isiwal

What is Art? (part 2 of 2)

I have played around with the acronym that art might stand for. How about:

Always Reality Today;

A Reading of Time;

Appreciation Reveals Truth;

or Advanced Reading Trance.

The Webster’s definition of Art is: “A visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination.” When we use the term art, we can encompass diverse media such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, decorative arts and photography. And then there is the age-old debate on whether we can classify a particular modern sculpture installation as art.

Linz PA Museumspark Parkbank, Creative Commons-Isiwal

Linz PA Museumspark Parkbank, Creative Commons-Isiwal

There appears to be a fine line between a practical object, designed to fulfill a purpose, and something that purely has its function in aesthetics, created to shift something in our feelings or thoughts. This brings us to a sore point historically within the stereotypical artists’ community: value. Value in terms of the functional aspect of thought-provoking inspiration that an art piece carries forth through generations.

As an art therapist and coach, I experience first hand how our senses are activated through art. Art moves us right down to our core, and images speak louder than a thousand words. Have you ever stood in front of a piece of art – a painting or a sculpture for example – and felt a message reveal itself in some mysterious way? When I share a painting, people tend to see the same emotion being conveyed in the art. Art is a means of universal visual communication. It speaks the language of our subconscious world, and, as such, is connected with archetypes and nature. It helps us get in touch with cycles, seasons and the natural world around us, and reminds us of our place as part of the larger whole.

Vincent van Gogh Self-portrait, detail from the Venus (Botticelli), temple lion, Japanese porcelain, Chokwesculpture

What is Art ? (Part 1 of 2)

Vincent van Gogh Self-portrait, detail from the Venus (Botticelli), temple lion, Japanese porcelain, Chokwesculpture

Vincent van Gogh Self-portrait, detail from the Venus (Botticelli), temple lion, Japanese porcelain, Chokwesculpture

What is art? When I ask myself this question, my first response is “what isn’t it”? Lets explore the connection between art and business. We will discover how our intuition accesses information from the subconscious mind as an invaluable tool in linking art and business. Through visual art we have invaluable given tools to access and strengthen this intuition. One of these tools embodies the elements of nature.

Everything around us is art, life is art, and the way we do things passionately is art. Think about the art of bookkeeping, the art of finance, or the art of business. Art is interpretation and creation at the same time. More importantly, I find that art reminds me of all the elements that I, as a human, am made up of: earth, water, fire, air. Art also connects generations through ideas in time and space.

We can easily get theoretical about this topic – and yet the word art is so simple. I remember jokes in my corporate days when I was working as an industrial designer. I would sit around the table with electrical, mechanical, software and thermal engineers, talking about a technical failure of a project, jokingly put to rest under the term art. So does the term ‘Art’ stand for a project that is better forgotten and resting in peace? A mistake we have decided to keep? Of course, mistakes have historically been the foundation for invention, though that is another topic all together, or is it?

Spring in the air indeed

Feeling the Spring in the air indeed!

Feels like I gave birth with receiving the first proof copy of my book SMART: How creativity empowers you business. If you want to reflect and gain insight into any business topic, start with art.
I had the pleasure of presenting my book during two workshops on friday at a symposium that took place at Avans Entrepreneurial Center in Breda. The topic of the symposium was New Leadership. In the workshop, we did two mini-hands on painting exercises. After we translated this information into commitments and action items! We had lots of business topic breakthroughs in the room. I received follow up mails from participants which gives me such a smile on my face!
Launch party details TBD. . .For pre-orders details simply reply to this mail. . .In the meantime, painting courses are in their final 2 months before summer break. Summer week retreats are open for registration. Just like last year, I get excited to receive emails from participants all over the world, who will join in!, speak later!
PS. In the tip of this month, discover how ice skating with friends is much more than simply. . .ice skating with friends!

Tip of the month:

Yes, that is the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam that has been built for the 1928 Summer Olympics. Since that time, it has become a landmark used fairly much in all sorts of sports activities. In the whole month of february, the stadium was flooded to allow for public ice skating and hosted the winter skating marathons for the pros. . .

. . .and you might be asking. . .what about the panda? (If you don’t see the image, change your settings to show image, the images are always the best part!)

Yes that is indeed me in the Panda bear hood with my dear friends Erik and Valerie. We let off some steam on our speed skates.

What I love about this picture, besides the fact that we had a blast, I see it as a snapshot fusing two passionate art areas.

You see Erik has been actively participating in the year courses for intuitive/ expressive painting at Atelier Molenpad for 5 years. I have gotten to know Valerie more recently during my co-active coach training.

What a peanut butter and jelly sandwich fusing these two disciplines together, yum!

And I call this sandwich as you may have guessed: ARTworks!

This makes me curious, as to what two passions of yours you can fuse together into a unique, yummy sandwich?

Go ahead, play around with this!

For example, Erik is a Manual Therapist and an Artist. Can’t wait to hear about how these two fuse together!  I am excited for hearing everyones breakthroughs! Yippee!

ps. Do let me know what you have discovered!

pps. So what about the panda? Well the panda is one of many totem accessories of mine that I bring to Burning Man. A place where everything is possible. It symbolises gentleness and strength.

Start the year as a rainbow

Here’s a rainbow in your honor. . .

Lot’s of love for this 2014!

This rainbow is such an insiration to me. It reminds me of gratitude. Especially for the small stuff. Had I not looked up, I might have missed it, I might have not believe it was there. Just taking a moment out of the day to smell the roses, admire the sky, count my blessings etc. . .I think you get it, I know you do this. . . Lovely to have an image to show for it!

We have had mild weather here in Amsterdam, as I sit to write this note, I am enjoying the sun beaming in! I have of course been watching the news at the record breaking temperatures in other parts of the world. . .hope you are all staying warm this season!

We have lots of inspiring things happening at the studio this year. From the hearbeat of the weekly courses, to the evening artjams and week retreats happening this summer. Out of the studio some exciting projects are now brewing up. . .I will participate with 2 art for new leadership workshops at a symposium in Breda happeing in March. More details as we get closer.

Indeed, my wish to have art incorporate into businesses is taking offf this year. I am quite proud of this! I am also at the tail end of my book, of which I plan to have the first copy off the press at this symposium. Nothing like a deadline to move things forward. . .reminds me of my corporate days. . .

Look forward to seeing you at Atelier Molenpad and UnleashAVision soon!

with all the elements,


ps. The tip of this month is about energy. . .and burnout. . .read on. . .

My tip this month is around energy. Or rather said. . .avoid burnout. . .nurture your energy. . !

Every living form on this planet exists because of energy. We have activities in our day to day environment that create energy for us, and other activities that take energy from us. Think about how the following activities work on your energy level: meetings, presenting, thinking, calculating, and negotiating. What about eating, exercise, brainstorming, doodling, walking in nature, zoning out. A great measurement that can be used to see how the activity is serving you, if to ask yourself the following: Am I looking forward to this activity, or do I feel immensely tired even thinking about doing this activity. However, do be aware when answering this question, if it isn’t resistance lurking there as well, as Stephen Pressfield mentions. Sometimes it is easier to check accurately after the activity. How do you feel now? Energized? Or deflated. Clear to say that if you feel deflated, these show energy blocks.

In this fast paced world it is a fact that we can be active on-line 24 hours a day. We can now work from the most remote locations, with team members located all over the world. It is us, and not technology that limits the amount of work that we can do and for how long. For many managers, when they get home the work continues through emails and phone calls. I too am guilty here. . .and remind myself. This used to be the opposite. It used to be that when a business day was over, that was it, we would have to wait for the next day.

Energy management has to be considered if we want to function at our optimal level. There are lots of factors in our workday that can deplete this energy from our system if we let it. Consider stress, and its effects on every level of our being. Consider the difference between incidental stress (fight of flight) vs chronicle stress (60 hour workweek). Stress drains our energy. On the other hand, when we build up a continuous reserve of energy, we are able to take on much more with less effort.

Consider burnout. This is a fairly common word among managers. It simply means that the energy that is coming in is less than the energy being used. It is a fairly straightforward principle. As straightforward as it is, many of us only take the time to smell the roses, so to say, when they are forced to. I have seen managers find themselves stuck so deeply that they simply cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. When this realization sinks in things can get pretty dark in that tunnel. Therefore maintaining our vitalization is of key importance.

We need to be gatekeepers of our energy, now more than ever. The statistics of burnout are increasing. This is relevant both as an individual and as a business. Our task is to keep our energy stream flowing, no matter what ranking we are in business. Our products must keep a renewed spirit, you need to keep in contact with what you are offering your customers. Customers can directly feel if the energy of a company has shifted. They feel that through the service that they receive. For instance that extra bit of energy that finishes up a conversation, that extra bit of follow through, that extra alertness during the summarization of a meeting or brainstorming session. This all leads to sales conversions, clear goals and focused decision-making.

I love how Seth Godin speaks about that the only thing that we want to talk about are the things that are interesting, like art. It is new, it will touch us, it is valuable. And then many spend all of their money, all of their time teaching people not to work on your own creativity. . .mmm.

Creating any type of art is a great way to build up and store energy. This energy is created within us on a physical and psychological level.

What do you feel in your energy level after a free afternoon playing around with colors?

What about this is important to you?

What’s next now that you started?

Ceremonies and Rituals


Now that we are off to a great zooming start in the year, I have been thinking about cycles, patterns, rituals, ceremonies and traditions.

Have you ever stopped to think about the value of ceremonies both in your personal life, and at work? Ceremonies allow us to celebrate milestones, keep stories alive from generation to generation and create a legacy for our hearts and souls. Hereby we can stand still to special moments in time that we cherish and share with loved ones. Sometimes they help us cope beter with circumstances by giving it a place in our hearts. They also help us create a unique sense of purpose that is attatched to time.

While nature’s laws have changing seasons, I, am so grateful for rituals that each season brings. Now in winter I have been able to receive beautiful gifts of white snow sprinkles throughout the month (at least this has been the case over here in Amsterdam). At the same time, it is becoming clear that underneath the snow and frozen grounds, the first hint of buds are poping their heads way up above the ground and all over the tree limbs. And so the snow melts away into the energetic rituals of spring.

The aspect that I love the most about Ceremonies and Rituals, is that it brings me closer to nature’s law. In my experience, of spiritual and religious practices, I have enjoyed the symbolic interpretations of nature’s way. What an experience I find it to re-inact Spring for instance from a sensory aspect. Holiday get togethers call for communitiy experiences of creativity. How about creating by hand: painting, cooking, sculpting, writing. Or singing and dancing together with ceremonial tunes that we sing just during these times! This gets right to my core!

To me it is so similar to gift giving. Isn’t it a totally different feeling to get a gift all wrapped up with a bow! All of a sudden there exists the ceremony of opening the ribbons and packaging, creating an all round experience. A sense of wonder exists. The wonder of holding the present right in our hands, without knowing the content. It is after all the care and thoughtfullness that is appreciated the most!

After all, OUR WHOLE LIFE IS A RITUAL OF EXISTANCE, mmmm there’s a statement to ponder over!

If that is the case, what new RITUALS do you care to add on in 2013?

In the atelier I have been looking to add a ritual to start and end our weekly painting sessions. Wouldn’t you know it, that this week a gorgeous Tibetan Cymbal found me, and begged me to be brought to the Atelier! Aaaah a new ritual has been born! Can’t wait to share it’s deep and clear tone with you!

with all the elements,


ps. If you would still like to visit my current exhibit at the LJG Synagogue in Amsterdam, the show is up until mid April.

pps. Helen and I have postponed our SOUL PURPOSE IMMERSION RETREAT, a 2 1/2 day retreat event in Dallas Texas to May! We decided to make it a LARGER event (you know everything in TEXAS is BIG! Ha Ha) Dates are now set for May 17th 18th 19th. Come on y’all!


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Article reproduced with permission of Daniella Rubinovitz, Unleashing your heart, Daniella offers individuals to visually SEE messages from your SOUL, both through teleseminars and live courses.


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