Saturday, January 12th, 2013

FORGET the old saying “I don’t have a creative bone in my body” – Jan Cross has proved it wrong time and again.

She’s the WA-born creator of The Extraordinary Mind Project, an art workshop program that has delivered some amazing results in getting people to re-capture their natural creative talents.

Established six years ago, Ms Cross has worked with more than 3000 people and has turned their artistic abilities around in a few hours, helping them go from drawing stick figures to accomplished illustrations.

Some of this before-and-after work will be on show at the University of WA’s Undercroft Gallery from January 17 to 20 featuring 60 previous participants.

Early workshop participants Jeremy Holton and Narelle Manser-Smith have gone on to become full-time, award-winning artists with works in public and private collections and will feature in the exhibition.

Ms Cross said it was an opportunity to see some of the amazing results that have been achieved with each exhibit telling a story of what happened during and after the course in art and other areas of life.

“Many people who claim they have no talent end up producing art works that astound themselves, their friends and family,” she said.

“People start out in life as ‘creativity machines’ but, as they get older, the brain becomes hard-wired into repeating what it already knows.

This is good because otherwise you would have to learn to walk and talk every morning, decide who you like and don’t like, what your opinions and beliefs are and so on.

“But this is a conservative function so, while your brain is telling you what you already know, you can’t at the same time be having new thoughts, perceptions and insights.

“We use drawing courses as a method of learning how to intercept the hard-wiring – this clears a space and allows you to think fresh thoughts and make new connections similar to a child.”

But Ms Cross says The Extraordinary Mind Project is not really about drawing, describing it as a method that helps people access the creative mind more deliberately and strongly, which can be used for enhancing creativity in any part of life.

The workshops provide a simple, step-by-step pathway that use drawing as the context to unlock the brain’s – as she puts it – “creative flow power”.

“Participants get results astonishingly outside their previous experience and become inspired about what is then possible for them,” Ms Cross said.

“The method also brings about changes in their self-confidence and life skills and has a role in tackling depression.” 

The Extraordinary Mind Project has proven so successful for Ms Cross that she has taken the workshops interstate and to Thailand with part proceeds going towards sponsoring orphaned hill tribe children in north Thailand. 

In addition to The Extraordinary Mind Project exhibition, where visitors have a chance to win some of the works on show, there are two free introductory workshops from 2pm to 4pm, January 19 and 20.

Entry to the exhibition is by gold coin donation with part proceeds going to the Borderless Friendship Foundation.

“This isn’t an art exhibition in the usual sense but a way of showcasing how this creative process works and also giving people a chance to try it,” Ms Cross said.

For more information, call 0488 755 088 or email [email protected]. More details available at

The Undercoft Gallery is below UWA’s Winthrop Hall with entry off Mounts Bay Road, opposite Winthrop Avenue, Crawley.


emp-asper-jan.jpg: The Extraordinary Mind Project founder Jan Cross, right, with Asger Rosenkranz, helping to re-engage his creativity.

emp-Narelle-Manser-Smith.jpg: Narelle Manser-Smith’s work after 22 hours – she now exhibits Australia-wide and has won numerous art awards.

nola-before.jpg & nola-after.jpg: Nola Doswell's basic sketch before The Extraordinary Mind Project and a portrait of John Lennon 22 hours later.

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The Extraordinary Mind Project

Jan Cross, Extraordinary Mind Project developer, has specialised knowledge and expertise for anyone wishing to uncover and recapture their natural birthright of extraordinary talents and creativity.

So far, over 2,000 people, many of whom started out saying "I don't have a creative bone in my body", have turned around in a few short hours of working with the Extraordinary Mind Project principles to produce artwork which astounds themselves... and their friends and family!

Most of us live far below our potential, though not because we are lazy or disinterested. The first few years of our lives are spent in an ongoing state of super-learning and creativity. Soon though, due to the hard-wiring of our brains, most of us lose close touch with the potential of these natural abilities.

Jan's innovative approach will help anyone who would enjoy experiencing a fast, sure break through the conditioned, unconscious hard-wiring of the brain and reconnecting with their 'forgotten' abilities.

The method uses drawing abilities as a learning context for - and display case of - applying practical information about the functioning of the mind in any learning, problem solving or creative situation. The results are reliably outstanding ... well outside the 5-10% level of potential that we are commonly thought, and seemingly able, to function within.

The courses are designed so that visual and other habit patterns, including perceptions and beliefs about what's possible and what's so, are intercepted or by-passed. The participant is able to enter the natural learning 'flow state' and the environment can be seen afresh and new skills and ideas come easily. The signature course is aptly named Draw Your Way To Creativity.

Participants see themselves and what's possible for them in a new light ... and like what they see! Many new possibilities open up for everyone - in art, sport, business, relationships, communication, life itself.

The method is the outcome of many years of intense interest and study and creative ongoing trialling of information and ideas by Jan. It synthesises information from varied sources including comparative creativity studies, right brain left brain research, cognitive science, psychology of optimal experience, adult learning, teaching methods, leadership studies, personal development, neurolinguistic programming, meditation, social change research, and others.

The spark. Jan's pioneering work was stimulated initially by observation of her first born, and other young children. She saw them brimming naturally with life and enthusiasm, having insatiable curiosity, unconditional confidence, no concepts of fear or risk, and with an unstoppable desire to learn and master new things. In fact, the first few years presented as an ongoing state of super-learning and creativity.

Being left by these observations with an acute awareness of the difference between this state and that of herself and, apparently, many other adults, Jan resolved to find a way of recapturing for herself what she saw as our birthright, our original art of living - natural creativity.

Jan leads courses and workshops, coaches, speaks regularly to groups and has presented at two conferences. Her courses have been presented by invitation in several of The UWA Extension Summer Schools and her work has been featured in articles in The West Australian, The Sunday Times and several community newspapers. Her participants' achievements have been showcased in exhibitions held at the Perth Concert Hall.
Jan Cross
P: 0488 755 088


art gallery exhibition illustration painting UWA University of WA Undercroft Nedlands Crawley WA Western Australia workshops creative creativity



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