13 Concepts Picasso and I Agree On, Quotes from the Master on Living a Creative Life
**Previously published on The Mission, Medium.com**
“An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought” –Picasso
This week, I began researching my old articles hoping for new inspiration.
Nothing clicked. My past work felt like I was pulling a dress out of my closet from 10 years ago. What was I thinking?
I didn’t want to write from the same point of view, I wanted to see my story from a new perspective.
Searching for inspiration, I scrolled through quotes about art, and creative minds and came across Pablo Picasso:
“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.”
I’d crossed many stepping-stones and opened many doors to become who I am today. And some of it was pretty damn hard.
There was nothing easy about starting a career in mid-life, or being the sole support of my kids through school and college, or surviving unexpected loss, two of them.
But, in the last seven years, things changed. I resurrected my creative self and discovered the joy of it bleeding into every part of my life. It revived me.
Your creativity is not limited to one form of art.
Creativity isn’t just one form of art; it’s a way of life. It drives you to see options you never had before. It makes you curious and fearless to try new things. It brings pleasure as you see things in a new way.
Creativity is the joy waiting for me every morning when the sun rises. It says… guess what, you get to spend another day feeling creatively alive.
I know living a curious and imaginative life is the reason I had business success and managed my home and finances at a time when it felt like I had lost everything. When one part of my business didn’t work, I figured out another… creatively.
My heart had been broken too many times, but the survivor in me wasn’t about to quit. I had to cooperate with “acceptance.” I felt stages of my life fizzle and die as I entered through a new door, a new phase, a new dimension.
In researching, I learned that Picasso’s ability to transform his art kept it ever evolving. He had his detractors, no doubt, but no one could dispute his ability to see things differently and morph his techniques and execution from one stage to another. His new styles were born from elements of the old.
Picasso didn’t limit himself to a paintbrush and canvas; he allowed his visions to come alive in many forms.
According to Wikipedia, “The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000, comprising 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.”
His ability to produce such a body of work is remarkable, but it all comes down to one thing we all have… creativity. It’s a living, breathing force inside of us, waiting to find expression in whatever we choose.
Creative living means living a creative life.
Creative living is the act of consistently thinking in a new way, looking at it from a new perspective, imagining the possibilities. It’s allowing creativity to be the compass in navigating our lives.
I dove deeper into Picasso’s quotes and found concepts I could tie into my life. He made me excited about what I’ve already lived and achieved, and his quotes made me hopeful about what I look forward to in the future.
Here are a few of my reflections inspired by his quotes.
1. Great ideas and great lives were once visions from thoughts.
“I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” –Picasso
Successful, happy people take time for “visioning.” The process of deep thinking gives birth to life-changing ideas, extraordinary works, and major life achievements.
You first create the idea with your thoughts, then super charge it with desire, and bring it to life by taking the very next step.
“To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.” –Picasso
Try 3 minutes of quiet, reflective time; then spend a few minutes writing about it. The process of deep thinking is where action is born. Once your thoughts are free to “sing,” new ideas begin the process of fulfillment.
2. Awaken your creativity and possibility.
“Every child is born an artist, the trick is remaining one as an adult when you grow up.”
Creativity is a tool that keeps your mind sharp and your eyes full of wonder. It isn’t just about art, it’s about stimulating your ability to be innovative, solve problems in a new way, and a tool to make you great at what you’re already good at.
It’s time to embrace creativity as a partner. It’s an essential link to success and feeling fulfilled. We are born creative. Have no doubt.
We often lose confidence in our talents because of a demanding teacher, a doubtful parent, or comparing our work to others.
But, it’s possible to restore the creative potential you were born with.
Look to your creative yearnings. They are the clues leading to your gifts and talents. It might happen when you feel a twinge of envy when you hear someone sing, or a pit in your stomach when your friend’s book gets published.
Yearnings like these are a calling to return to your child’s spirit and feed the deep creative hunger you were born with.
3. Your abilities are uniquely your own; you get to choose who you want to become.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.” -Picasso
When I began writing, I spent a lot of time worrying about the value I contributed. In my recent book, How to Survive the Worst that Can Happen, I wrote about the devastating loss of my son, and what it took to restore my life. I wrote it as a guide for other parents who have experienced the unimaginable loss of a child.
In the early stages, I questioned, “who am I to offer parents hope of healing?” I am one woman who experienced it, and there are many other books out there on grief recovery.
I didn’t have a PH.D. I wasn’t a therapist, I wasn’t a pastor, but I am a writer with the ability to put my thoughts into words.
I persevered and realized I was the perfect person to tell my story. I had lived it; I survived it, it’s my story of triumph.
Your stories and ideas are unique to you. No one else can do what you do.
"My mother said to me, “If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.” Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.” –Picasso
4. Ideas are out there for everyone to catch.
“An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought.” –Picasso
Did you know ideas are vibrational and pulsate through your brain thousands of times a day? I have some of my best thoughts while I’m doing a sprint in spin class, or washing my hair in the shower. Both places have no paper or pen for me to capture the fleeting thought. Darn. I lose so many.
“Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.” –Picasso
Leave nothing to chance. Get the tools ready: a pen with index cards in your car, a white board in the shower, a chalkboard in your kitchen. Always have some form of “capture” with you at all times…
Once you’ve captured an idea, use “visioning time” to bring the idea to life.
5. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense.
“The world doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”-Picasso
I’ve asked “why” so many times in my life…
I ask the good questions with gratitude, Why am I so lucky?
And I scream the bad ones…
It’s easy to celebrate the “whys” connected to joy. They feel more within our control. But, the terrible events in life don’t often make sense at all.
I still cry out the words, “Why did my son have to die?”
And damnit, there is no answer.
We all have a story about our lives. It’s the way we view it that dictates the quality of life. Picasso says:
“There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes.”
It’s easy to get stuck in your story. I’ve felt that way. For the longest time I believed I couldn’t dig my way out of being a victim. How could I? I’d lost my son and my husband. My heart was wounded beyond repair.
Or so I thought. But as I regained my strength and made the decision that my 3 living children deserved a mother who loved life again, I reframed my losses as a will to live. No… Not just live, but have a great life.
I’ve learned to accept that life happens, and it doesn’t always make sense, but it has made me stronger than I ever thought possible. And, I get to write about it.
6. When things aren’t working out, come up with a new way of looking at it.
“If I don’t have red, I use blue.” –Picasso
It seems so simple. For Picasso, it was those kinds of choices that catapulted his work into the genius zone.
Sometimes I get stuck on only seeing something one way. I like things I can count on. That’s why I order the same food when I go to my favorite restaurants, or pick out yet another pair of black boots because they go with everything.
I want to be more like Picasso and remove the “sameness.” It’s a stretch for me.
Many great works and inventions have happened as a result of trying something new. CS Lewis didn’t just write fiction, one of his greatest works changed my life, “A Grief Observed,” (it became a movie called Shadowlands). Because of it, I learned grief means looking at life in a new way. The physical manifestation of my son was gone, but his love still grows inside of me to this day.
It’s time for me to be bold and make a change… when I believe my only choice is red, I will turn to blue instead.
7. Embrace chaos as an opportunity and a season of change.
“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.”-Picasso
Life has cycles. We resist change to the point of fear, but what if you embraced that fear and the chaos that goes with it as an opportunity to shape the next chapter of your life?
The word “chaos” may seem daunting, but it might be the next step in the right direction. William Bridges, author of The Way of Transition says the next phase of your life doesn’t happen until you’ve experienced chaos.
Feelings of disorder don’t always mean something is wrong; it is a sign that something is going to change. It might be a door about to open that soon becomes the greatest chapter of your life.
8. Find symbols that strengthen your belief in yourself.
“If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse… but surely you will see the wildness!” –Picasso
Symbols represent a belief or a desired belief. They are used to strengthen one’s conviction or uplift in a time of need. Eagles are symbols of courage. Wild horses represent exuberant freedom, doves embody peace, and roses are symbols of undying love.
When I was suddenly on my own, responsible for the support of my children, and about to start my new career, my therapist gave me a shiny blue stone. She found it on the beach where a turbulent ocean tossed and buffed it to a beautiful sheen.
She said, “Put this in your purse. Every time you start to feel afraid, touch the stone; it will remind you of your steadfast strength through these turbulent times.”
Find something that symbolizes you as the indestructible stone, the courageous eagle, or the wild horse who is ready to be set free.
9. Choose your work as you choose your lover.
“It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction.”-Picasso
Work is a fact of life, but what if work provides more than making a living?
Shouldn’t your worklife be something you love? You can choose to work in a field you enjoy, or you can find something within your work that makes you come alive.
“Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.” -Picasso
I earn my living as a real estate agent. Contracts aren’t my passion, people and stories are. I love blending the two to make my days creatively satisfying… and yes, even seductive.
I often end the workday, inspired by a client’s story, a beautiful home, or a challenging transaction. I rush home to write about it. Writing is my lover.
Keep romancing your business. Let it seduce you to falling in love with it every single day.
10. Be curious, mentally alive, and filled with awe.
“Everything you can imagine is real.” –Picasso
A healthy mind is a curious mind. A curious mind ignites the imagination. Be inquisitive, mentally alive, and filled with awe as you charge into the future.
Become a sponge. Your brain is limitless and ready for you to download new information that leads you to greater purpose, more confidence, and deeper fulfillment.
Let curiosity be your entertainment. Continue reading books, taking classes, doing seminars, working with coaches, participating in masterminds, belonging to book clubs… just continue.
Now your life has infinite potential.
11. Cultivate a World View. Our compassion and reverence for others unite us.
“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” -Picasso
Cultivate your “world view.” As a mother who lost her son, I cannot help but be connected to other mothers who are grieving. I reach out to dry their tears, knowing it will likely bring back my own… and that’s okay.
Honor the bond of humanity. Whatever the circumstance that unites you, use it to build a bridge to greater understanding and compassion.
What can you do to offer help today? (Preparing a meal for a sick neighbor, offering to take a walk with a lonely friend…).
12. Never say “Someday.” Give yourself a timeline to actively pursue your dreams.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”-Picasso
The only cure for “someday-itis” is a commitment paired with taking action.
Even though you say, Someday I’d like to paint, or Someday, I’m going to write that book, the intention doesn’t satisfy the desire long enough to send it completely away. It’s still a living thought inside of you that feels disappointed every time you use the word, “someday.”
Picasso’s body of 50,000 works is proof he never got distracted from his passion or put anything off into the distant “someday.”
Ask yourself: Am I feeling a calling, a transition, a pull to try something new? Once you’ve named those dreams, take action.
“Action is the foundational key to all success.”-Picasso
If you long to play an instrument, sign up for lessons. If you’ve always wanted to write a book, open a blank document on your computer and write the first sentence. If your heart calls you to be an entrepreneur, write a business plan. You’ll be surprised how good taking that first step will feel.
Once you commit, you’ll no longer be stuck in the myth of “someday.”
13. Creativity is my alarm clock.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”-Picasso
I wake up every day knowing my destiny is to live creatively.
And that’s your destiny, too. We are creative beings. It can be as simple as preparing a beautiful dinner, having a lively conversation, or putting your brush to canvas at the end of a long day.
It’s no fluke that Picasso had an astonishing body of diverse work. His quotes leave clues and state the obvious from a new point of view.
He was in tune with his creative mind and acknowledged it every single day. Creativity was his muse, his lover, and his life’s blood running through every vein of his body.
He wasn’t any different than you or me. Like Picasso said, everyone is born an artist, the trick is to remain one by showing up for inspiration.
Living a creative life is a commitment and a privilege. Don’t fight it… it’s your internal destiny. Make room for it every single day as the sun rises. Let it wash away the old and illuminate the new. Your soul will thank you for it.
If you’ve got creativity on your mind… I have a free gift for you. A short ebook on how to establish some simple habits to set your creativity on fire: How to Develop the Creative Mindset.