Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Creativity highlighted with extraordinary minds on show
Forget the old saying "I don't have a creative bone in my body" – Jan Cross has proved it wrong time and again.
The Extraordinary Mind Project founder Jan Cross (right) with student Asger Rosenkranz
She's the WA-born creator of The Extraordinary Mind Project, an art workshop program that has delivered some amazing results in getting people to re-capture their natural creative talents.
Established six years ago, Ms Cross has worked with more than 3000 people and has turned their artistic abilities around in a few hours, helping them go from drawing stick figures to accomplished illustrations.
Some of this before-and-after work will be on show at the University of WA's Undercroft Gallery from January 17 to 20 featuring 60 previous participants.
Early workshop participants Jeremy Holton and Narelle Manser-Smith have gone on to become full-time, award-winning artists with works in public and private collections and will feature in the exhibition.
Ms Cross said it was an opportunity to see some of the amazing results that have been achieved with each exhibit telling a story of what happened during and after the course in art and other areas of life.
Many people who claim they have no talent end up producing art works that astound themselves, their friends and family," she said.
People start out in life as 'creativity machines' but, as they get older, the brain becomes hard-wired into repeating what it already knows.
This is good because otherwise you would have to learn to walk and talk every morning, decide who you like and don't like, what your opinions and beliefs are and so on.
But this is a conservative function so, while your brain is telling you what you already know, you can't at the same time be having new thoughts, perceptions and insights.
We use drawing courses as a method of learning how to intercept the hard-wiring – this clears a space and allows you to think fresh thoughts and make new connections similar to a child."
But Ms Cross says The Extraordinary Mind Project is not really about drawing, describing it as a method that helps people access the creative mind more deliberately and strongly, which can be used for enhancing creativity in any part of life.
The workshops provide a simple, step-by-step pathway that use drawing as the context to unlock the brain's – as she puts it – "creative flow power".
"Participants get results astonishingly outside their previous experience and become inspired about what is then possible for them," Ms Cross said. "The method also brings about changes in their self-confidence and life skills and has a role in tackling depression."
The Extraordinary Mind Project has proven so successful for Ms Cross that she has taken the workshops interstate and to Thailand with part proceeds going towards sponsoring orphaned hill tribe children in north Thailand.
In addition to The Extraordinary Mind Project exhibition, where visitors have a chance to win some of the works on show, there are two free introductory workshops from 2pm to 4pm, January 19 and 20.