Jack Canfield Jack Canfield author. speaker. motivator.

Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]

 
Arianna Huffington Arianna Huffington political powerhouse. media mogul. author.

Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]

 
Seth Godin Seth Godin author. speaker. linchpin.

Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]

 
Krishna Kaur Krishna Kaur yogi. philanthropist. dynamic teacher.

Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]

 
Norman Lear Norman Lear producer. philanthropist. tv legend.

Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]

 
Leilani Münter Leilani Münter race car driver. activist. carbon free girl.

Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]

 
Kevin Bales Kevin Bales Freedom Fighter. Philanthropist. Game Changer.

By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]

 
Sophie Chiche Sophie Chiche mom. big dreamer. lady in red.

Sophie Chiche, lifebyme.com founder and curator, enjoys asking deep questions and living a life of meaning. Today she's launching Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, a place to melt away fears and fat. [www.shapehousela.com]

 
Mastin Kipp Mastin Kipp Writer. Entrepreneur. Daily Lover.

Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]

 
Liz Phair Liz Phair singer. musician. crier.

Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]

 
Desmond Tutu Desmond Tutu archbishop. author. peaceful leader.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]

 
Zainab Salbi Zainab Salbi author. ceo. humanitarian.

Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]

 
Sean Stephenson Sean Stephenson speaker. psychotherapist. life embracer.

Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He's a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]

 
Kia Miller Kia Miller yogi. meditator. teacher.

Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]

 
Simon Mainwaring Simon Mainwaring creator. writer. idea geek.

Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]

 
Shannon Bindler Shannon Bindler Strategist. Writer. Life Coach.

Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]

 
Mathieu Bitton Mathieu Bitton Designer. Art Director. Passionate Creator.

Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He's a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]

 
Jorge Perez Jorge Perez Agent. Producer. Photography Enthusiast.

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blooming

Diana Mercer Diana Mercer teacher. natural innovator. clementine artist.

Teacher, natural products innovator, and founder of Clementine Art, Diana Mercer works in pursuit of a world where all children are artists – even after they grow up. [www.clementineart.com]

PostMERCER

Somewhere along the line, we decided that creativity isn’t for everyone. You have to be a special person or a specially talented person or have a special set of skills to participate in the creative process. This has been my personal experience and my observation – of children in particular, but also of my peers.

Every kindergartener walks into the classroom in September believing they’re an artist. By about fourth grade, very few of them still have that feeling. Slowly, our schools and our culture, through their ways of approaching the creative processes, are killing creativity in children. It happened to me. At some point in my life, I shut down creatively. I stopped believing in myself. It took me a long time to overcome the demand that my art look a certain way that’s good enough.

Ours is a culture of correctness, where if you don’t draw a dog that looks like a dog, your art isn’t correct. Something’s the matter with you or you don’t have what it takes to be an artist. I’ve seen art classes in schools for children younger than seven where the focus is on correctness and representational art, as if that’s the only form. When children aren’t able to pull that off, which is more often than not, they end up in tears. They throw up their hands, crumple up their papers, and say, “I can’t do this.” And they stop trying.

I’ve taught art to children for 20 years. As I’ve worked with them, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to unlock their effortless creativity, simplicity, and self-expression. I’ve grown fiercely protective of the creative process young children go through, trying to preserve the period of experimentation and creative development as long as possible so they can go deep into what makes their art fresh and unencumbered, uninhibited and direct. I’ve used what I’ve learned as a model for myself and for whole families, to give us the courage to make creativity part of our everyday lifestyles.

Open-ended, non-judgmental, safe, exploration-based artistic play, where there are no expectations about the outcome, gives children a chance to be authentic. They’re not expected to create something someone else designed. They’re creating art that connects them with their own emotions and their own creative voice, and that helps them discover what they want to say.

The creative process has to do with blooming –  organic seeds growing under the right conditions and with the right nourishment. The result is creativity for everyone at every age.

– Diana Mercer

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