Learn the science of creativity, the art of the possible-

The Adjacent Possible!

Being an artist is about continually evolving your art. It’s about cultivating your fullest self-expression and getting to the elusive deepest work your heart yearns to create.

The Adjacent Possible: Evolve Your Art. From Blank Canvas To Prolific Artist is your guide to continually evolving your art.


★★★★★Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers’ Favorite

The Adjacent Possible: Evolve Your Art from Blank Canvas to Prolific Artist is a fascinating presentation on the science of artistic creativity by the psychiatrist and abstract artist Nancy Leigh Hillis, M.D. It is written with the stated purpose to “guide, nudge, and inspire” the reader to reach their fullest artistic expression by venturing into the adjacent possible.

Dr. Hillis describes this as existing on the creative edge where every brushstroke or artistic expression reveals new possibilities which didn’t exist before. The inner journey of creativity is discussed, followed by topics such as tips for artists, mistakes even the pros make, traps artists face, and the paradox of creation including the value of ugly art. A link to a website and an invitation to join the Artists Journey community are also provided.

As someone who has admittedly produced a few pieces of ugly art, I have to say that in The Adjacent Possible, Dr. Nancy Leigh Hillis has hit a home run.
 As an engineer, I appreciated the references to science as she explored creativity and the role of attitude. “Art is an inside job,” she tells us. “Your inner landscape, your inner dialogue, your mindset is your most important asset because it affects everything.”

It’s not the refining of artistic technique that will have the greatest impact on your creativity, but your willingness to experiment. The well-written narrative flows from one topic to another, using stories that are sprinkled throughout to convey the concepts that are beautifully presented. This book will challenge you to re-evaluate how you approach your creativity and artistic expression.

Libby Gilpatric, Artist

Following the notion of the adjacent possible, the creator is able to determine not the outcome, but rather what is the input. Knowing that we have this capability with our own art makes this truly an original approach to the painting process. 

Rhonda Campbell, Award winning Abstract Artist

The book is fabulous…most inspiring & reinforces all Nancy has been discussing with us through the last couple of years. 

Creating art is about continually stepping into the unknown, the terra incognita of creation, and taking risks.

It’s about being vulnerable. It’s about allowing the full and unfettered expression of your gestures. It’s about continually evolving your work.

The perils of being an artist are of falling into the safety zone of the known, of the familiar, of the “how-to”, of relying on technique, of repeating what’s worked before, of emulating others.

Technique is a false god. It is helpful yet it’s only a means to an end, not the end itself.

The risk of too much focus on technique is boring yourself with repetitive, reductionist, formulaic, predictable paintings.

Creating art is a long game.

Early in one’s life cycle as an artist there’s a tendency to fret over every single painting. Each painting is fraught, each one precious. Making matters worse, you may have only a few paintings under your belt since you may be painting sporadically at best.

Even if you’ve been painting for decades, you may also be trapped in this predicament of fretting over every painting.

Does this sound familiar?

The problem with this approach is that it places enormous pressure on each creation. Each painting becomes a life or death psychological battle.

And when you finally create a painting you love, you’re terrified that the next one will be disappointing. You fear you won’t ever be able to consistently create paintings you love.

A big part of the problem is you’re simply not painting enough. This places enormous pressure on the few paintings you create.

Compounding this problem is the tendency to approach each artwork with the notion that it has to be a masterpiece. This sets you up for frustration and disappointment.

The antidote to this predicament is to cultivate an attitude of exploration and experimentation in your painting practice.

Many Starts, Miles Of Canvas

A powerful studio practice is to apply the concept of creating many painting “starts”.

Creating painting starts moves you out of perfectionism and overthinking and into a process and attitude of “not knowing”, of allowing yourself to step into the unknown territory, the terra incognita, and see what emerges in your art.

Artists continually evolve their art.

By creating many starts you activate your creativity and unleash unfettered self-expression. In this process, new and surprising images emerge. You step into uncharted territory, out on that ledge, not knowing what’s going to happen next.

Raw, immediate images emerge. Some of these images scare you, some repel you and others you don’t recognize.

It’s all part of the process of experimentation in your art.

If I could recommend only one studio practice for an artist, it would be to exhort them to continually experiment in their art. The easiest way I’ve found of activating experimentation is by creating many starts.

If this lesson is compelling to you, I think you’d love my new bestselling book: The Adjacent Possible: Evolve Your Art. From Blank Canvas to Prolific Artist.

This book is about the art and science of the possible- evolving your art, cultivating your fullest self-expression and getting to the elusive deepest work your heart yearns to create.

Quieting the inner critic, being able to take big risks, make mistakes and continually experiment- this is how you innovate.

Feel released and liberated to not only create, but embrace “ugly” art. This is how novel things emerge- they don’t come from the known but from the unknown.

The Adjacent Possible is about bringing visibility to the invisible, shining light around corners, noticing what you’ll pursue from experimentation.

You have a dream but you don’t know how to bring it to life. It has lain fallow for years, like a dormant seed, sleepy in the cold earth, waiting for sustenance. waiting for you to bring it alive.

Being an artist is about continually evolving your art. It’s about cultivating your fullest self-expression and getting to the elusive deepest work your heart yearns to create.

Learn the science of creativity, the adjacent possible!

This is a revolutionary method influenced by groundbreaking research in biology and physics to guide you to embrace the unfolding of your art.

Every brushstroke, every decision in your art, creates a set of possible paths that were not only invisible before, but didn’t exist before you made that creative move. This is the adjacent possible.

This book will:

guide you to evolve your art
nudge you to create art that excites, scares and wows you
inspire you to move past emulating not only others, but yourself in your art.

Becoming a great artist is about the movement of coming closer to who you are and reaching the fullest expression of YOU in your art..

With one foot in the known and one foot in the unknown, you’ll become aware of your creative edge where the adjacent possible lives.

At the pivot point between creation and collapse, you’ll experience a state of poised instability. This is the art and science of the possible- a world of continuous creation.

The Adjacent Possible book has free companion resources you can access when you get your copy.

The Adjacent Possible is a bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon.

In the first week, it was #1 Best Seller in the super competitive category of Self Help Creativity, right there beside Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection!

#1 Best Seller: Creativity Self-Help- The Adjacent Possible

And then… The Adjacent Possible went on to hit #1 Best Seller in Art Study & Teaching- right up there with Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work!

The Adjacent Possible Best Seller Art Study & Teaching

And…The Adjacent Possible hit #1 in Painting.

The Adjacent Possible- #1 Best Seller in Painting

#1 Best Seller in Cognitive Psychology

Best Seller- The Adjacent Possible- Nancy Hillis MD & Bruce Sawhill (Editor)

#1 Best Seller in Self-Esteem Self-Help.

The Adjacent Possible- #1 Best Seller in Painting

As well as #1 Best Seller in Behavioral Sciences

Best Seller- The Adjacent Possible- Nancy Hillis MD & Bruce Sawhill (Editor)

The Adjacent Possible is a reflection of the work of my life in art and psychiatry- guiding others to believe in themselves.


The big idea of this small book is that in order to create your deepest art, you must cultivate being surprise-able and nourish discovery rather than merely trusting luck and hoping for the best. There are principles you can embrace to weigh the dice.

Being an artist is about continually evolving your art. It’s about cultivating your fullest self-expression and getting to the elusive deepest work your heart yearns to create.

Evolving your art is one of the ways of cultivating surprise. You are engineering luck.

The Adjacent Possible is my invitation for you to move closer and closer to your deepest self- expression in your art and life.

I received a lovely note about the book from a wonderful artist and friend.

Here’s my response to this wonderful artist:

Your lovely note just absolutely made my day! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Yes, yes, yes!!! You intuitively get what the book is about. It’s about YOU, your unique and irreplaceable journey. It’s about exhorting you to continually move closer and closer to your deepest self expression in your art and life- to move closer and closer to YOU.

Artists make a difference by making a positive contribution to the world.

This belief in the power of art to heal, to inspire and transform yourself and the world is at the heart of what I teach in my book The Adjacent Possible.

In my books I explore the inner journey of art- but art is not all inner. It has an outer reality. Not only does art affect your psyche, it affects the world’s psyche and I assert, in a positive way.

So I’m excited to tell you about a simple way you can make a huge impact in both your community and globally.

By supporting the book, you are part of a larger mission- not only to encourage and inspire artists to believe in themselves and evolve their art, but also to alleviate the problem of food insecurity one book, one action at a time.

100% of proceeds from the first 30 days of publication will be donated to Community Fridges and Feeding America, which brings food to those who need it most!

I can’t think of an easier way to make a difference in the world, which to me is what being an artist is really all about.

Our Community Fridge: Before

Give/Take Community Fridge Before Enclosure

Our Community Fridge: After

Our neighbor built this lovely enclosure for our community fridge. After that, food donations materialized.

Give/Take Community Fridge With Enclosure

We’ve already generated hundreds of dollars for Feeding America and Community Fridges so they can bring food to the hungry around the world.

It’s astonishing… and it’s all because of you helping me spread the word about this special promotion. We’ve had members of The Artist’s Journey community sharing the news, posting on social media, buying copies for friends and community, sending out emails to their lists… it’s been amazing.

I wrote The Adjacent Possible to help more people trust themselves, get started painting, experiment deeply and evolve their art— and it’s helped so many get going on the path to creating and living their most meaningful life. It’s been so gratifying to see all this happening. You can be a part of it, too. 

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