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On Becoming an Artist


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"All it takes to become an artist is to start doing art." - from ON BECOMING AN ARTIST

About the Author

ELLEN J. LANGER is the author of two bestselling books- Mindfulness, which has sold more than 150,000 copies in thirteen languages, and The Power of Mindful Learning. Langer is a professor of psychology at Harvard University. Dr. Langer is the recipient of, numerous awards and honors- a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest from the American Psychological Association, and the Award for Distinguished Contributions of Basic Science to the Application of Psychology. From the Hardcover edition.


In her interpretation of Buddhist mindfulness, Harvard psychologist Langer (Mindfulness) encourages readers to explore their creativity by awakening to the world, questioning rules and routines, and seeking multiple perspectives. Unlike Betty Edwards in her seminal Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Langer does not offer techniques for transforming a stick figure into the Mona Lisa. She does, however, agree that there is an artist in each of us, suggesting that we can all be mindfully creative if we learn to view mistakes as opportunities, refrain from judging our work, and enjoy creative endeavors for their process, not their end product. Langer succeeds in mixing laboratory experiments, personal anecdotes, and inspiration from well-known artists. Yet the book would have been greatly enhanced by more direct application of mindful theory to creative situations rather than supporting its arguments with studies conducted in other realms. Recommended for large psychology collections.-Heather O'Brien, Ph.D. student, SLIS, Dalhousie Univ., Halifax, N.S. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Advance praise for On Becoming an Artist

"An artful blend of psychological research and personal reflection that illuminates human creativity."
-Howard Gardner, author of Creating Minds

"Whether painting, writing, or just being, Dr. Langer, a renaissance woman, offers profound insights into how and why to increase our mindful creativity."
-Betty Friedan

"Ellen Langer's On Becoming an Artist is a profound book, clearly and simply written, that presents scientific evidence as good advice to everyone who wishes to lead a creative life. As a psychologist and artist, Langer sees the process of making art from the inside out. Her book goes beyond art to enable her readers to make important choices, freely to experiment, and to gain satisfaction from what she calls 'living mindfully.' I thoroughly enjoyed, and was inspired by her work."
-Roger Mandle, president, Rhode Island School of Design

"Without making extravagant promises about releasing our inner Michelangelos, On Becoming An Artist is provocative, liberating, and in itself a significant act of mindful creativity."
-Justin Kaplan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain

What keeps us from becoming the artists we dream of being and living our lives to the fullest? Langer (Mindfulness), a professor of psychology at Harvard, shares her own journey as an untaught painter, casually scattering the names of friends and describing her own somewhat unsophisticated choices of subject matter. But her approach is also scientific: without becoming overly technical, she deftly weaves into her own story a wide variety of studies that examine the obstacles ordinary people put in the way of their own creativity. This isn't a collection of exercises or even an inspirational book as much as a gradual breaking down of what holds people back from living mindfully-fully present in the moment. Langer encourages her readers to recognize how fear of judgment, unnecessary self-comparisons and preconceived notions about talent impede artistic expression. Art, in her view, is a process rather than a product. And the very things that make the act of creating satisfying in itself-working in the moment, freeing oneself from judgment-also, she says, make for better art and a better life. Langer's work will strike some as a bit naive-does she believe "real" artists are never self-critical? Still, Langer has much to say that's useful on art as self-revealing and life-enhancing that will inspire many readers. Agent, David Miller. (On sale Mar. 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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