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This was a quick little job in the lobby of a Fifth Avenue apartment building. An access panel behind the doorman’s desk had been created, and the building’s manager was scratching his head. What on earth should they do with this eyesore? How could anyone make this plain flat door look nice in this fancy marble lobby? Should they put molding on it, paint it a different color, make it look like the metal panel next to it?

As the building staff puzzled over it, the contractor, one of my steady clients, arrived and said, “Well, it’s obvious, we’ll paint it as marble and make it disappear!” Having never seen this type of work done, the manager was doubtful, but with no better solution presenting itself, agreed. A quick call, and I was scheduled to jump in and wave my magic wand. The panel was about 20 x 24 inches/51cm x 61 cm.

I taped off the edges of the door, which was flush with the marble, protected the floor and started in on it. It took three or four hours.

When painting marble, there are so many layers involved that things always look a bit dodgy at the beginning. I tactfully ignore the doubtful glances cast my way, although once, on a wood graining job, the homeowner called the designer to ask, “Are you sure she knows what she’s doing?” But the streaks and blobs all come together at the end and suddenly it’s marble.

It was interesting that the building staff couldn’t come up with the solution of painting the door to match the stone. It made me wonder about what encourages and what stifles imagination. As Einstein, my favorite vegetarian, said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

So, in the interest of encouraging creativity, I did a little research and have compiled a few pointers for fostering imagination. These are intended for children, but seem to apply to adults as well.

1. Be curious.

2. Go outside and play.

3. Choose toys that let you play make-believe and make up as many stories as possible.

4. Turn off the tv.

5. Play on your own now and then.

6. Read.

7. Make art using stuff you already have.

8. Give yourself time to putter around.

9. Set aside a space for playing.

10. Daydream.

I think we should all give that a whirl. Sounds like a relaxing afternoon!

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