Tuesday, November 30, 2010




I remembered a story of how Bach was approached by a young admirer one day and asked, "But Papa Bach, how do you manage to think of all these new tunes?"

"My dear fellow," Bach is said to have answered, "I have no need to think of them. I have the greatest difficulty not to step on them when I get out of bed in the morning and start moving around my room."

- Laurens Van der Post

To view the Heron Dance print of this image, Visit Here. (This image is available as a Heron Dance holiday card!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010



The theoretician believes in logic and believes that he despises dreams, intuition, and poetry. He does not recognize that these three fairies have only disguised themselves in order to dazzle him.... He does not know that he owes his greatest discoveries to them.

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wartime Writings 1939-1944


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Friday, November 19, 2010

Ansel Adams



I am always violently in love with something--an idea, a person, a job.

- Ansel Adams in a letter to Nancy Newhall. July 15, 1944


To view the Heron Dance print of this image, Visit Here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Impossible




When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.

- Arthur C. Clarke


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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Simplicity Is Profound


The more experience a person has, the more simplicity is profound.

- Keith Jarrett



(The next Heron Dance book, and the next issue of Heron Dance (Issue 59), gets its title from this quote: Simplicity is Profound: Meditations on Creativity Daybook)


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Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Really Counts


What really counts is to strip the soul naked. Painting or poetry is made as we make love; a total embrace, prudence thrown to the wind, nothing held back.

- Joan Miro


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Monday, October 4, 2010

I Would Say to Any Artist


I would say to any artist,--don't be repressed in your work--dare to experiment--consider any urge--if in a new direction all the better--as a gift from the Gods not to be lightly denied by convention or a prior concepts. Our time is becoming more and more bound by logic, absolute rationalism: this is a straight jacket!--it is the boredom and narrowness which rises directly from mediocre mass thinking.

- Edward Weston in a Letter to Ansel Adams, January 28, 1932


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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


When I have a terrible need of - shall I say the word - religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.

~ Vincent Van Gogh


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Watching - A Pause For Beauty 356


Dear Heron Dancers:

These trees, these woods, bring out the quietness in me. Sometimes, in the late afternoon, around 4 o'clock, the light turns so soft that the phrase "an incredible lightness of being" often comes to mind. That's the name of a film I saw once, a film that has nothing to do with these woods, or any woods really, but it somehow fits. Trees take on a kind of flickering magic as the sunlight reflects off leaves, pine needles and the forest floor. Shades of green shimmer and tremble. When the wind hits the meadow waves form, waves of shadow and light. It seems a single life form.

I've been walking the woods a lot lately, and down through the meadow, and up the hill on the other side thinking about things. The other day, an owl, a barred owl I think, lifted off the forest floor and flew up into the canopy. White-throated sparrows sing a lot in those woods, their song a beautiful, clear penetrating melody (click here to listen).

I recently watched an excellent documentary on the life of poetCharles Bukowski (Bukowski: Born Into This). Yes, Bukowski was an alcoholic and suffered from mental illness, but he also wrote and submitted thousands of poems, stories and essays to hundreds of publications. His work had a kind of penetrating simplicity. In the film, Bono, Tom Waits and Sean Penn read his poetry and talk about the impact his work had on their lives. Bukowski worked at night at the post office. It was a mindless job—one that allowed him to pour his heart and soul into his writing.

As I grow older, more and more of the economic and political details keep pushing in, and I wonder what became of that early inner quietness that allowed me to move out of my own center.

An Open Life: Joseph Campbell in Conversation with Michael Toms


Campbell's right: the creeping, sneaky details subvert your relationship with your inner world, with your creative work. For instance, business management details. An artist needs to think all this through so that the structure of his or her life and work supports the creation of art.

In my twenties, I lived with artists, many of them women. I noticed that when they approached the age of thirty, the marriage problem came up with each one. "I have to get married now and have a child." When the female within calls the sculptor who has found her instruments of power, the mallet and chisel, her art falls apart because she can't carry a serious art career unless she is at it, and nothing else, all day long.

Unless you seek art as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond, don't pursue it.
- Joseph Campbell from A Joseph Campbell Companion edited by Diane Osbon


My problems are not marriage or baby-related (whoa...that's a scary thought!) but management. People management is an art just like painting or sculpture. I've been trying for years and if anything, as I've gotten deeper and deeper into art, my people skills have deteriorated rather than improved. I'm throwing in the towel.

Heron Dance is about to get simpler. Within a week or so, Amazon will take over the sale and shipping of all our books and notecards (Heron Dance will link directly to the Amazon website, and checkout will be through their shopping cart), and our prints will be offered only through Imagekind. Heron Dance will launch a new website to facilitate all this.

And I'm spending a lot more time at my studio in the woods, walking in the soft light of late afternoon, listening to white-throated sparrows and painting from the flow that goes on there, where I find a sense of peace. That's got to be good for my art. And my writing; Heron Dance should be able to better maintain its publishing schedule.

As long as creative people feel in harmony with their work and are progressing they are happy and fulfilled. When therelationship breaks down, their interior life also breaks down.
- Ira Progoff from At a Journal Workshop


Thank you to all who stick with this work, who have supported it through all of the ups and downs over the last fifteen plus years. I am grateful to be able to do this work.

In celebration of the Great Dance of Life,

Roderick W. MacIver

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Most days, Rod posts a creativity quote on Facebook and on his Blog. If you'd like to have these emailed to you each day, you can add your name here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Some readers may find this next excerpt a little harsh—it appears influenced by the tough (or worse) love school of music instruction—but I found the passage "and the reason for that is that they simply haven't suffered enough to be worth listening to" thought-provoking. And yes, I do believe that how much someone has lived profoundly affects their art. I also the passage on breath and spirit interesting.

"Let me tell you about the saxophone," says the saxophone teacher. There is an alto saxophone on a stand next to the piano. She holds it up like a torch. "The saxophone is a wind instrument, which means it is fueled by your breath. I think it's interesting that the word for 'breath' in Latin is where we get our word 'spirit.' People once had the idea that your breath and your soul were the same thing, that to be alive means, merely, to be filled with breath. When you breathe into this instrument, darling, you're not just giving it life — you're giving it your life."


Mrs. Winter nods vigorously. She keeps nodding a few seconds too long.


"I ask my students," the saxophone teacher says, "is your life a gift worth giving? Your normal, vanilla-flavored life, your two-minute noodles after school, your television until ten, your candles on the dresser and facewash on the sink?" She smiles and shakes her head. "Of course it isn't, and the reason for that is that they simply haven't suffered enough to be worth listening to."

She smiles kindly at Mrs. Winter, sitting with her yellow knees together and clutching her tea in both hands.


"I'm looking forward to teaching your daughter," she says. "She seemed so wonderfully impressionable."


"That's what we think," says Mrs. Winter quickly.


The saxophone teacher observes her for a moment, and then says, "Let's go back to that moment just before you have to refill your lungs, when the saxophone's full of your breath and you've got none left in your own body: the moment when the sax is more alive than you are."

- From The Rehearsal: A Novel by Eleanor Catton



To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.


Most days, Rod posts a creativity quote on Facebook and on his Blog. If you'd like to have these emailed to you each day, you can add your name here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Life With Picasso


Painting isn't an aesthetic operation; it's a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires.

- Francoise Gilot, Life With Picasso



To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Creative Ideas


Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club? Could the New Testament have been composed as a conference report? Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam, whether it takes the ultimate shape in a law of physics or a law of the land, a poem or a policy, a sonata or a mechanical composition.
- A. Whitney Griswold


To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.

Monday, August 9, 2010


For a year or two past, my publisher, falsely so called, has been writing from time to time to ask what disposition should be made of the copies of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers still on hand, and at last suggesting that he had use for the room they occupied in his cellar. So I had them all sent to me here, and they have arrived today by express, filling the man's wagon, — 706 copies out of an edition of 1000 which I bought of Munroe four years ago and have ever since been paying for, and have not quite paid for yet. The wares are sent to me at last, and I have an opportunity to examine my purchase. They are something more substantial than fame, as my back knows, which has borne them up two flights of stairs to a place similar to that to which they trace their origin. Of the remaining two hundred and ninety and odd, seventy-five were given away, the rest sold. I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself.
- Henry David Thoreau in his journal, October 27, 1853. Thoreau lost $275 on the book; he paid $290 for unsold copies and received royalties of only $15.


To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Think


The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person.
- Frank Barron, Think


To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Art


Art is not concerned with environment either; it doesn't care where it is … the best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel. In my opinion it’s the perfect milieu for an artist to work in.

- William Faulkner Paris Review interview (1958)


To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.

Monday, August 2, 2010




The composer Stravinsky had written a new piece with a difficult violin passage. After it had been in rehearsal for several weeks, the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said he was sorry, he had tried his best, the passage was too difficult, no violinist could play it. Stravinsky said, “I understand that. What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it.”
- Thomas Powers as quoted in Sunbeams, a book published by The Sun Magazine.


To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Nuance: any exploration of the creative process will ultimately come around to the subject of nuance.


Creators operate throughout their creative lives in a project to invent and articulate a language that will convey their sense of nuance and omnivalence. This project constitutes what is sometimes called the articulation of the creative "vision." For both creative scientists and creative artists the language of vision must form a "bridge" between their existentially private perception, cognition and emotion, and the public, consensual constructs of society at large-the consensual language. Creative scientists must ingeniously use the consensual language of mathematics and reproducible experiment to connect their individual visions to contemporary scientific projects. The creative artist must find a form or language that departs enough but conforms enough to the consensual language to break the elements of our shared language down and reveal what the creator has seen lying between them.

- From, Fire in the Crucible, by John Briggs

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Monday, July 26, 2010

North and South


If you say north and south are opposites, you then have to recognize there's a whole range in between. Therefore you have to tremendously enrich the field . . . If you hold these opposites together, then you suspend thought and your mind must move to a new level. The suspension of thought allows an intelligence beyond thought to act. Then you can create a new form.
- Physicist, David Bohm


To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

First Ideas



First ideas are very important; they come from God. And if after working and working and working, I return to these ideas, then I know they are good.
- Stravinsky


To view the Heron Dance limited edition print of this image, Visit Here.