Injecting Creativity Into Overscheduled Lives

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Danny Gregory sent us this sketch of his breakfast this morning. (Danny Gregory)
Danny Gregory wants to listeners to be part of "Here & Now Sketchbook Skool" and sent a drawing of his own breakfast to get things started. (Danny Gregory)

Think you're too busy to be creative? How about taking a few minutes to draw your breakfast? That's just one of the suggestions from artist and author Danny Gregory in his new book "Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are" (excerpt below).

"We have all these ideas in our minds about what drawing is supposed to be like," Gregory told Here & Now's Robin Young. "Once you start playing and start messing around, you realize it can be anything."

Gregory also promotes parties centered around drawing, and drawing as a way to become more mindful, as with artist Kate Binaman-Burt, who draws what she buys, which makes her more conscious of what she's spending.

Here & Now listeners, we want to see your breakfast drawings! We're giving you three ways to send them: Tweet a photo to @hereandnow; post it on Instagram and mention @hereandnowradio; or post your picture in the comments below.

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Book Excerpt: 'Art Before Breakfast'

By Danny Gregory

Art will make your life richer. And more fun. And better. And cooler. And less stressed. And...

Be here. Now. Art stops time. When you draw or paint what’s around you, you see it for what it is. Instead of living in a virtual world, as we do most of the time these days, you will be present in the real one. Instead of focusing on all the things whirring in your head, you will be able to stop, clear your mind, take a deep breath, and just be. You don’t need a mantra or a guru. Or an app. Just a pen.

Tell your story. Life is just a long succession of small epiphanies. You need to stop and seize them. By making art, you will be recording what you are living through and what you are learning about it. A drawing and a sentence or two in a sketchbook turns those everyday moments into something significant. Your art will set a frame around it and give you perspective on what really matters. Over time you will build up a book of memories—a true record of what’s important in your life.

Welcome to the world. It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful. And the most beautiful things have character and experience built into them. There’s a lot to learn and appreciate in a chipped mug, a half-eaten apple, the tiny lines in the leather of your dashboard. Making art will show you how much you already have. Your real treasures. A brand-new Maserati is a lot less beautiful to draw than a rusty old pickup.

Sudoku no more. You will never be bored or waste time again. Every day is full of those moments between activities. Waiting in the doctor’s office, watching mindless TV. Instead of reading tweets on your phone, you’ll make a piece of art. Every minute of your day counts. Make it worthwhile.

Danny Gregory is author of "Art Before Breakfast."
Danny Gregory is author of "Art Before Breakfast."
Why It Matters

We all live in chaos. It’s the natural state of things. Physicists call it entropy—everything is always changing and unraveling and ultimately turning into cosmic mush. That’s why your desk gets cluttered and your calendar gets filled. It’s physics.

Creativity is the act of shaping the mush of the world around us into something—of creating your own order. I’m not talking about going crazy and compulsive with a label maker and color-coded files. I’m talking about having a vision of what you want things to be like and moving toward it.

I assume that, deep down, you want to have more creativity in your life—that’s why you have this book in your hands. But you just don’t know how to fit it into the chaos of your day. There are always too many things to do, too many obligations and chores that take precedence over you. Maybe you think to yourself, “Sure, I’d love to make art, but I don’t have the time to indulge myself right now. Maybe on the weekend, on vacation, when I retire, etc.”

But creativity isn’t a luxury. It’s the essence of life. It’s what distinguishes us from the mush. And it’s why our ancestors survived while other less adaptive critters perished. They responded to change by being creative in some way, by inventing a new answer to the chaos.


And that’s what you need to do to make the most of your life, every day of it. To be inventive, open, flexible, in touch. To have perspective on what matters to you. To deal with change without being overwhelmed. And that’s what creativity offers you.

Creativity can become a habit that fits into your life, like Pilates or flossing, only a lot more fulfilling. You just need to shift your perspective on what it is to be creative. It doesn’t mean you have to be a full-time artist. It doesn’t mean you need lots of training or supplies. Or time. It doesn’t mean you need to be a so-called expert.

You just have to be you—and express what that means.

art with a small “a”

Art with a big “A” is for museums, galleries, critics, and collectors.
art with a small “a” is for the rest of us.

Art is a business, an industry, a racket.
art is about passion, love, life, humanity—everything that is truly valuable.

Art is sold, resold, put under the gavel, and insured up the wazoo.
art with a small “a” is not a product. It’s a point of view. It’s a way of life.

Art is made by trained professionals and experts.
art is made by accountants, farmers, and stay-at-home moms at restaurant tables, in parking lots, and laundry rooms.

Art takes Art School and Talent and years of Suffering and Sacrifice.
art just takes desire and 15 minutes a day.

You may not be an Artist. Big whoop.
But I know you can make art—with a wonderful, expressive, teeny, tiny a.

Excerpted from the book ART BEFORE BREAKFAST: A ZILLION WAYS TO BE MORE CREATIVE, NO MATTER HOW BUSY YOU ARE by Danny Gregory. Copyright © 2015 by Danny Gregory. Reprinted with permission of Chronicle Books.


This segment aired on February 19, 2015.


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