ON BECOMING AN ARTIST: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity

Ellen J. Langer, Author . Ballantine $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-345-45629-8

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 naïve—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)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Paperback - 258 pages - 978-0-345-45630-4
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!