What’s Yupo? Learning a New Technique

A few months ago, an artist friend from a Facebook creativity group began to post gorgeous paintings she had made on paper called ‘yupo,’ which is synthetic paper. Among its advantages are that you can wash off what you don’t like, you can blow the watercolors around the page–with your lips or a hairdryer, you can add gouache and then stencils and who knows what as you create something from very little.

While visiting friends last summer, I gave their daughter $20 to run down to the local art shop, buy 2 sheets of yupo, and get something for herself. Well–the two oversized sheets were $20. (Better prices online, from Office Depot to Blick and  Jerry’s Artarma.) So I chopped the oversized sheets into the 6 x 8 inch pieces I’m more accustomed to working with, and waited a while to figure out what to do with them.

I finally learned, thanks to a class last week with the Muddy Creek Artists Guild, of which I am a happy new member (though I still hesitate to say that I’m an ‘artist’.) An instructor showed us one approach to painting on yupo–clean the paper with rubbing alcohol and, once it has tried, splash a bit of water here and there, and then add up to three complementary colors. You can swirl the paper, or patiently watch the colors swirl. I’m glad I took a picture at this point, because mine was so beautiful that I made it into a card (for sale soon on my Etsy site!).

On sale at JustByJanice on Etsy -- $15 for set of 5!

On sale at JustByJanice on Etsy — $15 for set of 5!

The next step was to pick up the still-damp paper and move it across the room, to set it on the floor with all the other yupo-work, where a fan blew the images dry—and all over the place. I did not have my final one made into a card!

Yupo, large

The next time my daughter came to visit, we took my watercolor pencils and small sheets of yupo, and came up with our own designs–mine, the giraffe with runny mascara and hers the Monet-like abstraction. I may frame them both.

Giraffe with bad mascara and Monet lilies

Giraffe with bad mascara and Monet lilies

The point of all this was that it was joyful, intriguing, and fun. When was the last time you played with watercolors? And why did you stop?

Key Words: yupo, watercolors, Muddy Creek Artists Guild, creativity, learning

This Year’s Resolution? Create Healing

For all my years on the planet, 52, there are still times when experience is no teacher—or when futility seems to be my master. Nowhere is this more true than in my annual list of New Year’s resolutions. (It is a relief to know that I am not alone in this one.) Many of us share the idea that with an annual tick-tock-bank, we can fashion ourselves anew by resolving to achieve certain goals.

Full text of the article, which originally ran via Disruptive Women in Healthcare, is here.

Creative Minds Needed: Barriers and Opportunities to Better Care of Frail Elders

Posted originally by Disruptive Women In Health Care, June 14th, 2012


Janice Lynch SchusterBy Janice Lynch Schuster. When I was majoring in math, I was often stymied by theoretical problems that asked me to imagine things I could not conceptualize. I’d turn to my professor, JR Boyd, for advice, and it was invariably the same: Go home, lie in bed, daydream.

I thought of JR’s advice this week as I read Jonah Lehrer‘s bestseller, Imagine: How Creativity Works. Among the book’s many neurological, psychological, and sociological observations is that creative people daydream—a lot. They daydream not mindlessly or purposelessly, but with attention and intent.

Creative work, Lehrer suggests, also requires engaging outsiders, drawing in people for whom a problem is not old hat, and who can bring to it new ideas, visions, and possibilities. He suggests that creativity also requires a steady interaction with others and with the world, a willingness to see and make connections to which others are seemingly blind or indifferent.

Lehrer’s observations have some implication for work we do to make a better world for an aging population.  It may take all of us daydreaming to create a society in which we are able to see, understand, and respond to the needs of increasingly old and frail people.

As it is, the current health care system is anything but. For our elders who run into it—and run into it they do, with scores of doctors’ appointments and prescriptions and hospitalizations each year—the system is too often fragmented, failing to meet their needs for daily support and care.

Millions of Boomers will enjoy a longer old age than has any previous generation, most living into their late 70s and beyond. As they have with every other lifestage, Boomers are likely to want the current system to change, and change fast, to accommodate them. It’s what they’ve always done, only this time, they really will be charting new territory. No other generation has ever lived in such numbers for so long. But Boomers will be shocked to discover that the system they encounter  is in no position to care for them. Instead, in its current configuration, it will leave many people impoverished, isolated, and ill. We do not have the kind of comprehensive social and medical services that could enable aging people, and their caregivers, to thrive, or to live through to the end of life with meaning and dignity.

Some forward-thinking organizations are working to change the course, and have set sail in many directions, trying to find a way that will work best for most of us. Among the many innovations underway, the Community-based Care Transitions Program (CCTP) funded by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is injecting half-a-billion dollars into communities that are trying to improve what happens as people move from one care setting or provider to another. These innovative programs encourage the usual health care players to go beyond their walls and boundaries, and to work with untapped but essential partners, specifically community-based organizations. The first thirty of these awards have been made, with more to come. All are committed to breaking out of their usual medical model, working across agencies and programs to find ways to help people as they move across care settings. In the course of their work, CCTP communities are likely to find new ways to interact and engage with one another. They have the opportunity to apply some of what Lehrer suggests is essential to problem solving and creative work—the chance to work with outsiders, to welcome new players, to find more effective ways to communicate with one another, to brainstorm, to be critical, and to daydream.

With any luck, their daydreaming will become the foundation for real improvements not only in the selected communities, but in others around the country. More and more, local communities and organizations are finding that they have the ideas and the passion to overcome long-standing barriers, and to see opportunities to improve the care system. These local efforts have a long way to go—but they are a start in the journey now to secure a better future (and end) for us all.


Key words: aging, caregiving, frail elders, creativity, problem solving