Many of the women I share with you are people who inspire me. I stumbled across this week’s creative women when I was doing some research on the value of play for adults.
Californian based Gwen Gordon lives a life of creativity, transformation and play. From designing Muppets earlier in her life to currently writing her first children’s book for grownups, Gwen has made it her mission to spread the word about how vital this is to our wellbeing. This speaks deeply to my passion and belief of the intrinsic need for transformation, play and creativity in all our lives.
And so I felt a need to have her as one of my Creative Women. Take it away Gwen!
Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice.
I’ve spent the past 15 years spreading the gospel of play through talks, articles, and videos. I emphasized all the benefits that play provides as a fundamental human need and a driver for evolution. Mostly I’ve been interested in what it takes to shift our state from what I call the Proving Ground mindset to the Playground mindset.
As I’ve dug deeper and deeper, I find that there are two core obstacles to living life as play.
1. The fundamental identity as a separate, skin-encapsulated ego that leads to enormous insecurity; and
2. The developmental traumas most modern human beings experience.
Realizing this, I have shifted the emphasis of my work from play for play’s sake to transformation and healing, engaged playfully. Now, instead of writing about play, I write about transformation, playfully. The passion I have, to liberate people from the bondage of the Proving Ground to the Playground, has also channelled my creative energy into more individual and group work.
While I started my life designing Muppets and working in world-class innovation think tanks, I now bring all my playful spirit to the most important task of all. The one in which our collective future depends – the transformation that enables us to see all of life as a playmate and wherever we are as a playground.
The Wonderful W is my first children’s book for grownups, which you can find, along with an activity guide, journal and W charm necklace at www.gwengordonplay.com/the-wonderful-w-3/
What is your greatest creative achievement?
Like most mothers, I try not to rank my children and I don’t think much about my past creations. That’s why the latest is usually the greatest. That would make The Wonderful W book trailer the greatest so far. https://youtu.be/dJ8ee0ycAw8
And still greater ones are yet to come. Stay tuned for Mia’s Magic Window, my next book!
What is your first memory of being creative?
When I was five years old, I made a giant stuffed crab out of grey satin that I stuffed with anything I could find in the kitchen: wooden spoons, potholders, napkins, plastic containers and stitched up myself. It took mom a while to figure out that my lovely crabbish-shaped pillow was actually a repository of kitchen items. Fourteen years later I built a crab Muppet for Sesame Street and used kitchen tongs for the mechanism that opens the claws. Full circle!
Who or what inspires you?
#1.NATURE! I just got back from Hawaii and the creativity that gave rise to sea turtles, monk seals, eels, urchins, coral, birds of paradise, you name it…astonishes me.
Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?
First and foremost, I meditate to get very quiet. As soon as I’m quiet, creative ideas generally start gushing in. If I’m not quiet inside, I generally recycle old thoughts.
I keep a good stash of inspiration from other artists around me as well. Then I find the seed of inspiration, the thing I really care about creating and I let it simmer for as long as possible.
I like to wait until there’s a restless impulse in my system to start working before I actually go to the “canvas.”
I don’t put any pressure on myself to work when that creative tension isn’t there. So, if it’s not there, I do other things. Unless I’m working on a project with a deadline! Then I get informed, taking notes as ideas spark. I scan for inspiration from a wide range of sources not necessarily directly related to the project.
Then I do my own brain dump and start making connections and experimenting. I keep the experimentation process open for as long as possible!
How do you deal with creative blocks?
I take all pressure off myself to break through any blocks. I do other things, enjoy my life, see friends, play, cook, garden. When I’m not so attached to breaking through, I come back to the project and look at other people’s work for inspiration. By then the block has usually dissipated.
What is one tip you would give other creatives?
Don’t let your creative projects define you or you will burden them with your identity and crush your creativity. Keep returning to the creative process as play and keep the play of it going for as long as possible. It’s not worthy of your time or gifts if it doesn’t come from love and joy.
What is your favourite, colour, book, song, food and place?
Colour is like vitamins. – the needs change over time. Right now, I’m in love with rusty orange. My favourite book is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and as for music anything by MaMuse. Favourite place is Mt Tam in California and the best food ripe olives!
And don’t forget her amazing new book The Wonderful W. I’ve read it and it is a Wonderful magical journey, into self-discovery and wholeness, all wrapped up in a beautifully illustrated easily readable book.
It’s a book that we not only should be reading ourselves, however also sharing with our children.