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. . . There are rules that every artist must abide by. You will never succeed if you break them” [Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel].

I’m currently reading the biography of Dr. Seuss. I enjoy learning the life stories of people who inspire me. I want to know about the path they have traveled, those who have influenced their decisions, and the challenges they have overcome.

How did they do it? Why did they do it? I’m intrigued to understand how their family or education or experiences conspired for or against them. I look for sparks of inspiration that I can claim and use in my own life. Which brings me to Dr. Seuss.

As a child, I wasn’t aware of his drawings or the unbelievable adventures of The Cat in the Hat. Fortunately, as an adult, I have come to thoroughly enjoy his work and extraordinary talent.

Two years ago I was introduced to Dr. Seuss, the artist, while visiting Stephen Clayton Galleries on Coronado Island during a visit to San Diego with my sister, Dawn. There were so many unique and unusual Seuss paintings and sketches, I became infatuated. I truly felt like a kid in a candy store — with the candy being the colorful and untamed imagination of an incredible story teller.

The story of Dr. Seuss’s life is quite interesting, and filled with unexpected twists and turns. The quote I used to begin this post was uttered by his high school art teacher, as he was struggling to find inspiration in a vase filled with “tired old daises.” Seuss had simply turned his tablet upside down to draw from a different angle. (Oh, the horror!)

Obviously, in her mind there were rules that should apply to everyone. These rules were meant to create conformity, comfort, and a means to a certain end. Perhaps this art teacher felt uncomfortable coloring outside the lines, so she prohibited anyone else from straying beyond what she deemed unacceptable.

“My goodness, whatever will people think,” she probably thought to herself, “if I allow my students the freedom to express themselves in ART CLASS?” (Do you hear the absurdity in that question?)

Ever encounter people like this? You can identify them by their comments: “We’ve always done it this way,” or “We can’t just allow our employees the freedom to do ______________ (fill in the blank) — it’s too dangerous or not prudent or who knows where it will lead?”

So small-minded, fearful people, make extravagant and unnecessary rules which demand compliance and destroy commitment, while employee creativity, satisfaction, and enthusiasm is swept to the floor like useless eraser crumbs.

Be aware that others aren’t the only ones who have a way of minimizing our contribution. We often sabotage our own efforts by establishing ridiculous rules for ourselves. Don’t let your fear, or concern about what others may think, create limitations that choke your brilliance and imagination.

We set boundaries for safety.
From fear. Because of habit.
Test them. See why you drew them.
Push against them.
Break through them.
Feel the exhilaration.

~ Patrick Lindsay

Take a step outside the line. Use all the colored pencils in the box. Speak out. Step up. Find the resources. Use the good paper. Discover a new way. Show your very best work. Take a risk. Turn the drawing pad upside down.

Don’t keep your ideas and dreams and songs and colors penned up inside — let them run around off their leashes! Who cares if the neighbors get nervous?

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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