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Learn, Create, and Teach: A Guide to Building a Creative Life [Paperback]

Mrs. Clara Lieu
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

18 July 2013
Whether you are a student, professional, or teacher of the arts, this book delivers succinct, practical, and candid advice that addresses both common concerns in the creative path and the real-life challenges an artist faces in the real world. Breaking down the creative arc into “student,” “professional,” and “teacher” reinforces that we all have something to learn, to create, and to teach. Addressing universal problems, fears, and roadblocks faced by artists, this book offers solutions, hope, and motivation. Those starting their art career will value the tips and strategies for becoming known (“Be able to sum up your work in a single sentence.”) as well as staying motivated (“Never ever stop making your art.”). Teachers will gain insights from not only my experiences but also the perspectives of my colleagues, mentors, and students. This easy-to-digest volume has advice that can be readily put into practice by anyone.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (18 July 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1490928960
  • ISBN-13: 978-1490928968
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,358,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Clara Lieu is a visual artist and adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. In the past she has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, at Wellesley College, and at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. For four years she was the Director of the Jewett Art Gallery at Wellesley College. Her work has been exhibited at the International Print Center New York, Bromfield Gallery, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Currier Museum of Art, the RISD Museum of Art, and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Clara Lieu is a visual artist and an adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Learn, Create, and Teach reads like a self-help book for artists. There are three main chapters written for the student, professional and teacher. Whether you are one of them or not is not that important because you'll still gain from knowing how others think.

The lessons and advice in the book are from the life experiences of Clara, both as a student and a teaching professional.There are tips on challenging yourself, managing time, teaching, learning and working. Clara has put in many of her stories to emphasize the point she wants to make. You'll probably be able to relate to many of the lessons. It's written in a concise and candid manner. You can probably finish reading the book in a day.

The last portion of the book deals with frequently asked questions and Clara's answers to them.

Of course with any self-help book, it requires you to put in the effort.

It's a motivating book, a good one to have by the side to read again at times just to absorb the tips at a sub-conscious level.

You can read an excerpt of the book on her website. This book is also available as a Kindle edition which I'll recommend over the physical copy if you have the Kindle.

Be sure to check out her blog as there are many insightful articles there as well.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  77 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Read - Insightful Lessons 30 July 2013
By John Chancellor - Published on Amazon.com
Clara Lieu, the author of Learn, Create, and Teach, has written a very delightful, easy to read guide targeted to the artist community. Even though the book speaks directly to artists, I think the lessons in the book are applicable to a much larger audience. The majority of the insights and wisdom she shares addresses issues that run across all segments of society.

The book is a collection of 60 short essays on various truths Ms. Lieu has discovered in life. It is quite easy to read this book in an hour or so. The fact that the book is a quick and easy read does not diminish the value of the lessons. I would actually say that the real value is in the lessons being short and concise. Ms. Lieu gets right to the point and therefore the impact is much stronger.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one is addressed to The Student, Part two covers the Professional and Part three deals with being a Teacher. It makes sense to separate the book into these groupings, but in real life, we often go seamlessly from one to the other - being a student in one context, a professional in another and then being a teacher. All these lessons apply to all of us even though there are a few instances when you should substitute the word artist for your own role in life. Of course you could realize that at some level we are all artists, creating our own life.

I would suggest a good approach to getting the most value from this book is to read it through to gain an overall appreciation of the lessons and then read one essay each day and implement that lesson into your life.

Some of the more important lessons Ms. Lieu talks about are:
The importance of showing up on time

Success is more about how hard we work than how much talent we have

Learn to let go

Make time - we all complain about not having enough time - we have the
time we just need to allocate it differently.

Follow up and say "Thank You"

This book is really a great collection of key lessons that will help anyone become more successful in life and their chosen profession.

I was provided a review copy of this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sparkling and Wise Manual for Creativity 30 July 2013
By L. M. Keefer - Published on Amazon.com
If you work or live as a creative - an artist, writer, composer, innovator etc. - you will find the strategies in this book on how to lead a more productive and joyful creative life invaluable. A Harvard business prof says we have morphed from the industrial, to the information, to the innovation or creative age. Creativity and innovation are increasingly important. You don't have to be an artist to benefit from this book.

This is a manual for creativity for students, professionals and teachers learning, working and teaching in creative fields. The author suggests we are usually all three at once as we need to be constantly learning, working and sharing what we know. As a visual artist, former gallery director, and now professor at Rhode Island School of Design, author Clara Lieu has distilled her wisdom from creating, working and teaching art into 60 unique lessons or strategies.

In this book Lieu promises, "I will help you confront your challenges with concrete strategies to foster your creative drive." She continues, "Whether you are a student, professional, or teacher of the arts, this book delivers succinct, practical, and candid advice that addresses both common concerns in the creative path and the real-life challenges an artist faces in the real world....Those starting their art career will value the tips and strategies for becoming known, as well as staying motivated. Teachers will gain insights from not only my experiences but also the perspectives of my colleagues, mentors and students. This easy-to-digest volume has advice than can be readily put into practice by anyone."

Some of the advice which struck a chord most with me - you will enjoy finding your own wisdom in this book:

* See every assignment as an opportunity ~ If you treat your homework only as homework, that's all it will be. Many students view the parameters of an assignment as a set of difficult rules that strangles their creativity. Instead, think of the parameters as a departure point with the final destination in your hands.

* Ideas will always prevail over technique ~ Exorcise yourself of the most obvious solutions and your work will become more original. The first idea is never the best one. When I get started, I purposefully sketch out on paper my most cliche attempt so I can get rid of it and move on to something more distinctive and innovative.

* Have fun ~ When I was 19 years old I was convinced I was an oil painter, so I started my sophomore year in art school as a painting major. At a certain point I knew something was glaringly wrong when I was having more fun in my stained glass elective than in my painting class. Switching into the illustration department was one of the best decisions I've made in my entire life. My new classes provided the structure and technical instruction I had been craving.

* Jump off the cliff ~ I would rather see projects with blood, sweat, and tears than see safe, incremental progressions. Baby steps take forever. Why not push through by taking one giant risk? You won't ever know how far to go until you've gone too far.

Many of the strategies in this book apply to life, too - although wouldn't take the jump off the cliff one too literally. Art therapists might find this book useful, too. A teaching idea that I loved was how the author showed the progression of her own work in a slideshow to her students. Stephen King did something similar in one of his books on writing - he showed a piece of writing he'd done and then how he edited it. When Lieu suggests strategy #9 to Make Bad Work, it reminded me of writer Anne Lamott's advice on writing and life in her book BIRD BY BIRD: do #@%!ty first drafts.

The section on students' most frequently asked questions in the classroom was as intriguing as the strategies. While reading, I noticed the charming illustrations in the book and realized it must be the author's work ~ lovely accent. The wisdom in this book would take art students and new artists years to accumulate; this would be a great gift - or even textbook - for students and beginning artists. Mature artists and teachers will enjoy Lieu's perspective to enrich their experience. Don't be fooled by the size or simplicity of this book - the lessons within are fairly priceless, and written in very positive, affirming way that is sure to motivate. This book may make you want to sign up for an art class and exercise your creativity.

(review copy provided)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A helpful guide to the artist at all stages in their creative life 2 Sep 2013
By Catrinka - Published on Amazon.com
In "Learn, Create, and Teach: A Guide to Building a Creative Life," the author, Clara Lieu, has compiled a wide assortment of insightful and practical advice to help artists at all stages in their art life. Ms. Lieu is able to share her experiences and knowledge as a former student, successful practicing visual artist, as well as respected professor at the Rhode Island School of Design.

The book is arranged in an easy-to-read format and is divided into three sections: Student, Professional, and Teacher. Each abbreviated chapter is nicely illustrated and offers real-life guidance on a variety of issues relating to the creative individual.

For example, a couple of chapters in the Student section have to do with:
- Behavior issues for dealing with peers, teachers, and mentors
- Exploring your own weaknesses and/or strengths in developing your own style

The Professional section was the most helpful to me, offering advice to the practicing artist on a variety of topics, including:
- Doing whatever it takes to stay motivated (don't ever stop making your art!)
- Holding onto your ideas
- Creating opportunities
- Finding/creating a network of artists

And, lastly, the Teacher section discusses many issues, including:
- Objectivity
- Showing passion for art helps to create the same passion in your students

The book finishes up with a selection of frequently asked questions with a corresponding answer from Ms. Lieu.

All in all, I found the short essays in this book to be refreshing and helpful. The casual expression of ideas reads much like a blog post and I found the book works well as a daily motivator by simply reading a short chapter or two each day to help keep me inspired.

A copy of this book was provided for reviewing purposes.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Literary Cuisinart to Unlock Your Creative Juices 12 Aug 2013
By Kevin Quinley - Published on Amazon.com
One of the best books I've read this year -- a pleasant surprise. As an avid reader and sometimes active Amazon.com book reviewer, I receive many review copies of books and overtures from authors to read their works. Most of these I politely decline due to time constraints. There are so many books to read and I rarely take the time any more to review unless the book made a large impression on me -- positively or negatively. I made an exception recently in taking on "Learn, Create and Teach" and I'm glad I did!

This slim and concise book packs a wallop of insight for anyone interested in "elevating their game" in life. Author Clara Lieu is a visual artist and adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. The danger is that many readers will look at this book, figure that it is only for artists -- painters, sculptors, performing artists -- and irrelevant for them.

What relevance could the book have for a lawyer, business writer, consultant, nurse or pizza-maker? (For that matter, what relevance to a wonky insurance consultant?)


What Ms. Lieu offers transcends the realm of fine arts and performance art. Hers is a methodology that applies to whatever you are doing in life that captures your passion. This could be your job or a side hobby. The subtitle, "A Guide to Building a Creative Life," sheds light on the book's broader applicability. It should not be marginalized as simply a pithy manual for art school students.

Especially for today's knowledge workers who must consistently generate new ideas and projects, Lieu offers dozens of useful tips for keeping the creative juices flowing amidst the struggle to create. However, those who are not knowledge workers, who work with their hands can approach their jobs as their craft, their art.

The book is divided into three major sections: Student, Professional and Teacher. There is a medical school saying, "See one, do one, teach one." This approach works for more than just doctors-in-training.

One other nice feature of the book is that it is very reader-friendly. Each chapter averages about one to two pages in length. You can graze in and out, in whatever sequence you like and extract useful "nuggets" of insight. In many ways, this book is a worthy companion to others on the creative process, such as Todd Herman's, "The Accidental Creative" and Stephen Pressfield's "The War of Art." If you liked those books, I predict you will love "Learn, Create and Teach."

No matter what you do -- writing a novel, mowing lawns, drafting blueprints or cooking blue crabs -- you can approach your endeavor as your "art." That mindset is one that emerges from Lieu's book and make for compelling reading .. and re-reading.

Postscript. I intentionally wrote this review before going on-line to see how others had reviewed the book. Looks like it has tons of five-star reviews. I am in lockstep with this assessment but reached that rating before peeking to see how others had assessed it.]
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meditations for an Artist 27 Aug 2013
By Lauryn Welch - Published on Amazon.com
Immediately after I finished reading Clara Lieu's new book, Learn, Create, and Teach, I gave it to my dad who is also an artist and a teacher. Rather than flip through a couple pages, he spent the whole evening reading and contrasting each chapter with his own anecdotes. That is what I really like about Learn, Create, and Teach. It is written in a staccato and concise manner. Objective and universal. It is relatable to any artist, and anyone can take something away from it, whether you are an art student like myself, or a professional like my dad. The book is like Marcus Aurelius' Meditations written for artists. Most of the tips Clara writes about are not profound secrets. They pose common sense ideas that serve as reminders or jumping off points for the artist to contemplate on a personal level. With this in mind, you will get more out of this book by taking one chapter at a time on an as needed basis, than from reading it cover to cover in one sitting. There is simply to broad an array of information to fully process at one time. For me personally, the reminders in each chapter have been a substantial motivator for my own work. I would recommend this book to any young artist heading off to art school, as well as those practiced individuals who find themselves stuck in a rut or isolated from the art community. This is a book you will keep referring back to.

Semi-disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. But hey, I am buying another copy for my sister to take with her to art school this fall.
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