Tag Archives: Examining The Creative Mind

Examining The Creative Mind: Alex Iwashyna

Today on Examining The Creative Mind we have poet and blogger Alex Iwashyna.

Alex Iwashyna:

Where do you do your writing?
I write wherever. I once had an office, but we are in the process of moving so it’s not mine anymore. Sometimes I write in bed. Sometimes on the couch. Right now, I’m using my very messy kitchen desk.

Late Enough Workspace
Late Enough Workspace                      Photo Courtesy of Alex Iwashyna

One place I never write is outside. It’s too distracting and bright. I try, but I can’t and end up playing with my dog or cats instead.

Can you tells us a little about who you are and the kind of work that you do?

I once wanted to be a philosopher, but it seemed impractical so while I majored in political philosophy, I also took all the requirements to attend medical school. After I graduated from medical school and had my first baby, I decided to stay home instead of going on to a pediatric residency where I would be gone 60-80 hours per week from my son. After a year and a half, I missed my first love from before family or philosophy: poetry. I found a local class and a mentor found me. I wrote and published until I had my second child. After six months, I turned to blogging as a way to write daily and be accountable to an audience because I didn’t have the time and space and energy to work words into poems. My blog grew, and I fell in love with the genre.

What genre do you prefer to write in and why?

While I love blogging for the ease of finding an audience, it is demanding and fast-paced and unforgiving in some ways. For example, nothing can be taken off the Internet or a misspelled word can garner more comments than a well-sourced thesis. However, it is also too forgiving in that an emotional peek behind the curtain with no value beyond OMG LOL or a controversial slam with no science or research can be shared and talked about for days or weeks. Although I guess “days or weeks” aren’t that long. And I get to write in fragments much like my poems. If I had all the time in the world and needed no sleep to thrive as a kind human being, my preferred genre is poetry.

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you practice?

I am a regimented writer. I do not give myself weeks off or only write when I “feel like it.” Writing is work and takes energy that I rarely want to give. What I mean is that I often feel a compulsion to give it, but the act of getting a story from my head to my screen or paper seems insurmountable. So I practice 3-6 times a week getting over the mountain. I also edit and edit and edit. I don’t sit down and write and am done. I write and rewrite and beg someone to read it after I’ve reread it five times. Yet still I find errors and embarrassments and the following day I can think of better titles. Writing is disappointment within triumph as people laugh and share and think and yell with and at me.

Are you influenced by any other creative mediums such as music, dance, art or film?

One of the most dangerous things I can do is get so immersed in only writing that I forget to dance or listen to music or take a walk in nature or laugh with my children or watch a movie (oh, how I love the movies). I have had weeks where I forget to live, and I find myself with nothing to write.

As a writer, is there anything specific you hope to accomplish?

I wanted my blog to be where I practiced my voice enough to write a book because I knew that writing poetry at regular intervals was (and still is) far off for me. I have both a fiction and a nonfiction book in mind. I have even run the nonfiction work by a well-published author and received a thumbs-up. But I let blogging and my freelance writing become so big that I haven’t had time to work on it anymore. These years of blogging have become a push and pull between making money and how many labors of love I chose to do.

As a writer, how do you define success?

I would like to say that I define it as a piece I am proud to read a week or a month later. I have caught myself defining success by how much money I make in a month or a year. I have been surprised by the success of a piece being defined by how much turmoil or joy with which it is shared across the Internet. I imagine success is more like my 86-year-old Nana using my blog as a jumping off place for her weekly Bible study when I haven’t mentioned God at all.

What do you think is your biggest strength?

I believe in deadlines even if I’m setting them for myself. Even the best bloggers, writers and artist fail when they stop creating work.

What is your biggest weakness?

I want to write about everything. I think if I had stuck to one or two areas of interest, my blog would have grown much larger much quicker. I would’ve been miserable though so it would not have been worth it. Probably.

Do you approach your work within a framework of rules or moral code?

I have a strong lines of public and private on my blog. I never blog about anything that would hurt another person to the best of my knowledge or ability. If I am telling a story that involves a stranger, I change all the details to hide their identity. For stories closer to home? Well, I have many stories that would make my blog more popular or daring, but I don’t believe are my stories to tell. I will tell people one-on-one if they glean something and reach out to me. An adult has approved of the story if they are in it as themselves. Children are trickier because even if they say, “Yes, that’s okay,” my kids are too young to understand what that means. So I don’t blog about my children daily, and I try to protect them in other ways by not using many identifiers. I also use the line, “Would we tell this story at their engagement party?” when I’m writing a post. If the answer is no, the post doesn’t go up. (I don’t actually care if they married — it’s just for perspective.)

What is the most important idea, belief, or dilemma you hope to address through your work? Is there a theme at the core of the work you do?

We aren’t defined by one belief. We, as thoughtful human beings, can come together to laugh and think and agree and disagree and come back the next day to the same thing.

Thank you, Alex!

Examining The Creative Mind: Carrie Schmitt

Today on Examining The Creative Mind we are incredibly lucky to have the talented Carrie Schmitt talking about her art and her life. I am in love with her beautiful paintings. They energize me with their vibrant colors and instantly put me in a happy mood. I hope you enjoy her interview today as much as I have. Links to her website and Etsy store are at the bottom of the page so don’t forget to check them out.

Carrie Schmitt
Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

Can you tells us a little about who you are and the kind of work that you

I am an artist who lives on a moss-covered mountain on the outskirts of Seattle WA. I began painting in 2009 when I developed a life-threatening allergy to heat and could not leave my home for several months one sweltering summer in Cincinnati. Today I have licensing deals with home décor and stationary companies, such as Hallmark, and paint as often as possible despite a busy life with kids and freelance writing jobs.

Where do you do your work? Can you describe your workspace?

My studio is a room in our home with lovely windows.  Making it my dream studio is a work in progress. I have a wish list for what I want and am slowly acquiring things. I love that I only have to walk down the stairs in the morning to get to work, and I love being near my family so that I am always available when they need me.

My kids are often in the studio with me studying, playing, doing crafts or just talking. We have some great talks in there. It is nice because I am not going anywhere as I paint so it creates an ideal time for conversations.

Scmitt studio
Carrie Schmitt’s Studio                 Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

My favorite item so far is a vintage garden cart that holds my paints so that I can easily transport them around the studio to the different areas I paint. Because I paint florals, I couldn’t resist the garden theme.

I was given a table that had heavy drab curtains and wanted to replace them but didn’t have the patience to sew new ones. I tore colorful mismatched fabric scraps into strips and tied them to the rod—it complements my painting style quite well.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Que Sera                                                                           Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt

Do you have a favorite artist? What attracts you to their work?

I love too many artists to name—so many take my breath away. I do have a Pinterest Board of art that I love if you would like to join me there. I think each artist I see influences me on a subconscious level, leaving imprints on me in ways I don’t realize that come out in my artwork.

How would you describe your work in 3-4 words?

Colorful, joyful, vibrant.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Kitchen Window                                                      Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

As an artist, is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish?
I want to always be learning and growing as an artist. I hope to have enough success that I can support myself through my art, which would allow me the time I crave to dedicate myself to this every day.

As an artist, how do you define success?

Success to me is getting my art out in the world and sharing it with others. Also knowing that I am always learning and growing. I figure if I keep creating and putting myself out there, hopefully other forms of success will come as a byproduct to living my authentic life.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Where Love Resides                                        Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you practice?

I’m a mom of 3 busy children, so my only ritual involves flexibility and acceptance of my time constraints. I’d love to say I light a candle, meditate and do sun salutations before I paint, but that is just not going to happen at this stage in my life. I run into my art room every chance I get and paint while I am quizzing my daughter for a test, trying to find my son’s baseball hat and running back and forth from the kitchen trying not to burn dinner.

What are you hoping to communicate through your art?

I believe in beauty. I think it has a transformative effect on our psyche, our thoughts and actions. Plato said, “Children need to be surrounded by beautiful things.” I think adults do as well. My paintings are my peaceful and non-intrusive attempt to make the world a brighter place. To bring delight and light-heartedness to a space. My hope is that my art makes someone pause and smile.

I just don’t understand our culture’s obsession with violence and negativity in all sorts of media. I think this is my own little subtle response to this. We need more people creating beauty every day.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Friendship                                                     Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

How do you come up with ideas?

I often find inspiration from floral bouquets and the farmer’s market flower stands that Seattle is famous for. Home décor magazine covers, such as Country Living and Better Homes & Gardens, are another favorite source of color inspiration. A lot of time is spent designing those covers, so somebody has already done the work for you as far as color scheme. Sometimes when I paint, I look at the magazines shapes, colors and patterns and paint very quickly and loosely to see what happens. This is almost a painting exercise for me to see what happens. It is a great starting place to begin painting.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt

What do you think is your biggest strength?

I’d say my biggest strength is perseverance. There are so many times when I have doubted myself or felt frustrated for a myriad of reasons, but I don’t give up. I think this is the key to most success in anything you do.


You can see more of Carrie Schmitt’s work on her website Carrie Schmitt Art + Design or purchase some of her work in her Etsy Shop. Her work is so beautiful. I can imagine her work makes you feel as if you have brought your garden inside with you. I can’t imagine a better way to bring some cheer and happiness into a home! Don’t forget to visit her on Pinterest and like her on Facebook too!



Examining The Creative Mind: Micheal Brillas From Zendigity

Today I am happy to introduce Micheal Brillas as a contributing artist to my Examining The Creative Mind Series. His work is unique and thought-provoking. Links to his Facebook page and website will be at the bottom of this post. His business is called Zendigity. Enjoy!

Photo from Zendigity productions.
“Hamster Powered Fish” -photo courtesy of Zendigity

How would you describe your work in 3-4 words?

Awareness through Perceptual Juxtaposition.

What are you hoping to communicate through your art?

I think ultimately I’m looking to deliver a message about perception that too easily gets overlooked by people. This existence is something that we share with each other, yet we all view it independently. Together, we form a social consciousness, a mutual understanding of reality as it’s defined by the group. This then reinforces the idea that everyone’s existence must be the same. I try to interject the idea that there’s always another way to look at something, and that we only really know the reality of our own existence.

Photo from Zendigity productions
“How Many Sheep” -photo courtesy of Zendigity

As an artist, how do you define success?

I define success as being an artist. I currently work as an IT guy supporting clients in 3 states.

My life is in a state of constant evolution and change. The company I work for is in a stage of success where we’ve outgrown our ability to keep up with the pace of our own growth. It’s crazy, it’s manic, and it’s a pressure cooker of potential that most people aren’t able to comprehend, let alone manage.

By nature, I’m an introvert, what’s known as a “high self-monitor”. I spend a lot of time in observation, and I’m able to dissect problems within social interactions. That’s not an easy thing to describe, which often keeps me from trying, but it means I need to be able to decompress after resolving stressful situations. That’s where my artwork comes in, MacroAbstractography. I create tiny abstract sculptures and photograph them up-close in various backgrounds. Once enlarged out of proportion, the images take on something akin to a Rorschach test. Setting up the correct angles, lighting and backgrounds in order to get the right shot, takes a lot of focus and concentration. This takes my mind off of my work.

table photo
Table – photo courtesy of Zendigity

What other media do you work with?

Recently, I’ve gotten into working with acrylic epoxies creating ‘second life’ artwork with Jennifer Tallman; one of the artist’s you’ve previously featured. Second life artwork takes discarded items, (mainly old tables and cabinet doors) and transforms them into something new through the use of specially pigmented epoxy resins. The moment you mix the epoxy you have a limited amount of time to work it before it hardens. The moment something gets added it can’t be undone, so mistakes have to be mitigated quickly. At the same time, you’re working with something that’s already been thrown away, so it encourages you to take risks. The moment it hardens, you’re done. Then it becomes all about building upon the layer. Each piece consists of multiple layers, built upon one another to create the illusion of depth and movement.

photo of a Zendigity table
Table – photo courtesy of Zendigity

As an artist, is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish?

I’d like to one day leave behind the manic world of IT and focus my effort fully on selling myself as an artist. Right now, I have a difficult time considering myself an artist. I can’t draw or paint, and my hand-eye coordination is terrible. But I am able to sometimes see things that others overlook. While I love to create for the sake of creation, I do tend mostly to create for the sake of communication. I’m not sure if that makes me more of a communicator than an artist, but at this point, I don’t think it really matters.

I built Zendigity.com as a place to display my images. As I shared my work with people, I noticed how the things people saw in my work reflected the way they saw other things as well. This was what led to the ideas behind MAZE.

MAZE is the Modern American Zen Experience, a way of finding peace and harmony through the entanglement of conflicting perspective. One day I plan to write a book on MAZE, but at this point I don’t have that map ready to be drawn.

You mention Zen a lot, are these Buddhist ideas?

Not entirely. The Zen I reference is more a Taoist principle applied to the modern American experience, at least as far as it’s known to me. This can sometimes cause confusion for those who might think I’m attempting to teach Buddhism or Zazen, a Buddhist meditative technique. Zen from a Taoist’s perspective is more defined as being within the flow of one’s individual existence. That’s what I’d like to teach, how to find that flow.

How do you find that?

By being aware of perceptual juxtaposition. 🙂



Thank you, Micheal Brillas for participating in my series and sharing your work with us. I am looking forward to going back East one day and buying one of those tables. I think they are gorgeous.

Please visit Zendigity on Facebook

Check out more of Micheal Brillas MacroAbstractography on Zendigity.com