Creativity Afloat

“Creativity is not a talent, but a way of operating.”  John Cleese


Painting is my passion. Studio space onboard? I wish!

I am often asked if I am able to paint while living onboard Cortado. The honest answer is easy: No. However, I do find myself completely “creative” on Cortado. While I miss oil painting outdoors and in my RI studio, I still live an abundantly creative life afloat.

I sketch or draw on occasion. I photograph daily. I paint with watercolors sometimes. I bake, sew, write poetry (and blog posts!) often. Every single day on the boat I know I am creating (along with Tony) a significant life for our family.

beach clean

Writing messages of poetry and nonsense on the beach and building sand-castles = art! 

I have often tried to explain that teaching is one of the most creative things I have ever done (Teachers out there – do you feel the same?).  Teaching is profoundly creative – it is a fluid attempt to describe material in several different and original ways until the message is absorbed. The capacity to grow, learn and change is vital to an artist’s work and imperative for teachers as well. Needless to say, I incorporate a lot of art into our daily class-work.


Oliver, drawing fish in his marine-life journal.

Cruiser-artists have a challenge while living on the water.  One’s medium must be flexible. However, in spite of limitations, our creative process can still grow exponentially. Art and science merge in nature. Therefore, boat-living results in a simultaneous osmosis of beauty and mystery.

The changing landscape of an ocean passage or limited space on a boat hampers the freedom and flow most artists are used to. However, there are many ways to create one’s art. In studying the physicist David Bohm, I found a similar thread respecting the creativity that comes with taking on adventure:

“The creative state of mind is impossible if one is limited by narrow and petty aims, such as security, furthering of personal ambition, glorification…… Although such motives may permit occasional flashes of penetrating insight, they evidently tend to hold the mind a prisoner of its old and familiar structure of thought and perception.”  For sure, petty aims have no home on a boat.


Sophia and a friend sketching in the v-berth.

Find art in everything you do!  The anthropologist, Margaret Mead had a domestic view of art and I find it comforting and quite to my point.

“If we make one criterion for defining the artist… the impulse to make something new… — a kind of divine discontent with all that has gone before, however good — then we can find such artists at every level of human culture, even when performing acts of great simplicity.”


I guess I am an “artist” because I am an oil painter. I love to paint. But in my mind, I am an artist not because of what I do, but because of who I am.  Like most children (!), I embody a creative spirit that is like an open fountain. It bursts forth as it pleases in any way my life will allow and cannot be suppressed. I suspect all artists are this way.


My advice to any artist thinking of ditching land? DO IT. Let go. Have big adventures. Be creative in any way you can. Cook, read, draw, sew, photograph, teach, write… sail!  Whatever it takes to make your art. Your studio time will come again, and you will be changed (for the better) when you return.

Creative efforts in every form combine to alter one’s sense of self and without a doubt, the self of others. Go.

ref: (quotes by Margaret Mead and David Bohm)

LRD studio images by Maaike Bernstrom Photography

* John Cleese is famous for acting, writing and producing, but he is becoming well known for his work on the mind and creativity. See:

** More about David Bohm that I like, though not particularly relevant:  “Bohm believed that the general tendency for individuals, nations, races, social groups, etc., to see one another as fundamentally different and separate was a major source of conflict in the world. It was his hope that one day people would come to recognize the essential interrelatedness of all things and would join together to build a more holistic and harmonious world. What better tribute to David Bohm’s life and work than to take this message to heart and make the ideal of universal brotherhood the keynote of our lives.”  (Reprinted from Sunrise magazine, February/March 1993. Copyright © 1993 by Theosophical University Press)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Debbie Schuler says:

    Very nice post!!!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lynne Rey says:

      thank you Debbie! xxx


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