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Topic: Review: CANVAS by Sean Waters
Message: Posted by: dmoses (Mar 26, 2014 11:18AM)
Review: CANVAS by Sean Waters

"You want to do mankind a service, tell funnier jokes!"
--Alien, Stardust Memories

Lately it seems that I delete more posts than I put up… I get half way through a long rant about something or other and I go "Really? Why bother?"

But I'm going to force myself through this one and just keep simple because I know it'll be worth your while.

Let's get right to it:
Canvas, Sean Waters new eBook, is terrific.

I might go so far to say the best he has written-- and that's saying something. I still perform HTP from his first eBook Ponderings, which came out 7 years ago (!). I've been a been fan of his work ever since (and still argue his Tailored Suits was one of the most under-rated card books of last year). In Canvas, however, his effects seem even cleaner and more direct if that's possible, his methods bolder and more streamlined… there's a maturity to the writing and the routines that make this such a pleasure to read.

This is over a hundred pages of not only terrific effects-- good effects are good, but good routines are better! And good routines with a great premise are fantastic… there's a lot of fantastic in here.

<skip this part>

I was out for a coffee with a good pal of mine who is a fine mentalist and a great thinker and we were joined by another magician-- who is pretty well known in the industry-- and it became apparent that this guy didn't know the difference between an effect, a routine, and a premise. If you're not sure you know either, that's another reason to buy this book. But briefly the effect is what the audience sees, the routine is the way you structure the presentation to make it as powerful as possible, and the premise is the reason you're performing the effect at all. The What, How, and Why. It feels that often we focus so much on the What, the How and Why get ignored, whereas if we started with the Why-- 80% of everything else would fix itself.

< Okay, come on back now>

(Almost) All of the effects and routines are about something! They're not (only) "Think of a number… Here it is!" "Draw a picture… Is this it?" They're all coming from an interesting place. They've got a point of view. They have a context!

And I'm not talking about that syrup of meaning that is drizzled on tip of your favourite centre tear, that seems to be en vogue at the moment-- these are organic, cogent, and entertaining areas to explore.

Okay enough… I can already tell that I'm losing Sean more sales than I'm making for him.

The over 100 pages is filled with effects and a couple of essays.

The first draft of this post began-- "When did Sean Waters become such a Reader!" But then I remembered HTP… readings have been a part of his effects from the very beginning. But Sean being such a "psychological-based illusionist" kind of guy, I never think of him that way-- but this book is filled with guideposts, and milestones to help anyone interested in providing readings with their work.


and when you think about it-- how much more is there to mind reading than readings?! The mind reader is always reading something-- micro-expressions, psychic vibrations, spectator's shoes, cards, little bits of paper, doodles, small objects, etc

<aaaaaand back>

A couple effects stand out in my memory for this: RNG which takes a very common and occasionally thrown-away effect and makes a great routine out of it-- with a terrific premise if you'd like to try your hand at readings (psychological or otherwise). I also really loved FRAMEWORK which gives a some clever structure for a drawing dup-- with more reading possibilities!

There are also not one but TWO ESP card effects. The first one Seeing Stars is a very powerful, big middle of your show multi-phase-just-keeps-getting-more-amazing routine. Finer voices than mine have sung its praises, and its been well-deserved. The second is based on Jeff Pierce's Telepa-three. Which I don't have but will have to track down now-- minus two points for that-- minus one for including a routine that you can't entirely learn without prerequisite knowledge-- minus two for making the routine so good we have to track the other one down!

Big Brother is a technique by which you will know a complete stranger's name. Now I know that there are several other routines out there purporting to do the same-- this does it-- Yes, it requires certain circumstances and some glibness, no you can't do it any time-- but when the occasion arises you CAN with NO PRESHOW know a stranger's name. I mean, come on!

Then we come to what will probably be the most contentious parts of the book-- which are hardly contentious but are worth noting because such things matter to some people-- there is an effect (two effects actually) and an essay on Instant Cueing of audience members. What was interesting for me was that I don't know if Sean would have published these effects in an earlier eBook. It feels to me that there's a freedom that's coming from his maturity as a performer and a thinker… there is great stuff here.

In Stardust Memories, Woody Allen plays a tortured film-maker. Everybody loves his "earlier, funnier movies" but Allen's character just wants to make deep and meaningful films. After a surreal and Fellini-esque journey Allen's character near the film's end meets some aliens and asks them the big questions about Life and Meaning and Art... their reply, which opens this review, has stuck with me for a long time. Sean's work helps me tell funnier jokes.... mentalism-wise.

That's it… my apologies for the digressions… in the interest of full disclosure I would consider Sean a "friend-in-mentalism" but I paid full price for this book and it was a pleasure to do so.

And you can get it here: http://watersmindworks.com/releases/canvas
Message: Posted by: Waters (Mar 27, 2014 05:58AM)
"Subconscious Themes" Dave, not readings.

All kidding aside, there are structures meant to enhance the depth of impact of standard tools you are already using. Others routines including "themes" are meant to provide context for the effect itself. Why did I think of number ____ ? Etc.

And yes Dave is my "friend in mentalism", but he is not afraid to call my babies ugly. Let me refer everyone to this thread:

Look, Dave values the aspects of a presentation (and methods) that support a worthwhile experience. I like that about him. There is novelty in Canvas, but not for novelty's sake. The new methodology in the book exists because it enhances some element of the experience for the audience (great or small).

Thank you for taking the time to post on my behalf, Dave. I am proud of this material and I hope that readers enjoy it and I am looking forward to hearing what readers think.


Message: Posted by: dmoses (Mar 27, 2014 10:22AM)
Ha! I honestly forgot writing that post... Ah well, but look what a handsome effect it grew up to be.

Interesting to me, when I was re-reading Canvas last night -- it occurred to me that I failed to include my two favourite effects in my little review. (one of which I mentioned to you)
Hmmmm. I wonder how that happened?

The other thing I neglected to mention what that I think there's only one effect with playing cards in the whole book-- and there are a LOT of effect-- and that one effect is a BIG card effect.

Message: Posted by: Waters (Mar 31, 2014 06:23AM)
Thank you Dave for the comments. Since the original thread (In Latest and Greatest) mentioned the contents, let me do so here:

RNG: An extremely practical way to predict a series of numbers, then have someone think of one of them and both are predicted via a method that you will apply to any number of things. I use this as a bridge to unconscious themes related to the number they are concentrating upon. This gives context to the routine.

Seeing Stars: To be honest, this three phased ESP routine with Zener cards is one of my favoreite creations. I am really proud of how this builds over each of the phases and the denouement offers a genuine surprise, which is a rare treasure in mentalism

Big Brother: This is a genuinely impromptu opportunistic method of determining someone's name, without having spoken with them or asked anyone anything. This is a suational method that will make you smile. I promise.

Eternally Jung: This is an expanded presentation for the routine I described in Wonders. This features a structure that ensures compliance with a three-phase compliance staggered approach which creates an implied contract for the experiment to work and also creates psychological tension that keeps your participant focused on a sucessful outcome. While I think the routine is very nice, what I think you'll love is the undercurrent that aids in clarity and compliance.

Inclusion: An essay on a method in mentalism

Framework: This is a way to squeeze every savory ounce of meaning and impact from a DD. Again, there is no extra work, just some psychology that helps paint the expeience in a meaningful way

Nomenclature: This is a method to determine emotions or themes that you decide upon. What I like so much about this tool is that using it creates a great "process picture" for other people to see, while it serves as the means. You will likely add this, just because you can.

Blunted Affect: A no-nonsense outgrowth of the Nomenclature process. People write down names and you already know which emotion that the person evokes.

Chaos Theory: The is a presentation structure that can be applied to any number of themes. In my case thus far, it has been a human deck of cards effect in which cards are genuinely mixed, freely chosen and in spite of this the performer can reveal a number of things, in a mulit-phased revelation including the chosen card. This is an out of the box method combination that I think you will truly enjoy. It is simple and it creates impact.

Whispers: A nuance to add to routines that suit

Random Sample: This is an ongoing experiment in which people all think of words and they are revealed. People are told to think of what pops into their minds and the performer has a few people take part . This routine offers a synergistic combination where the simple means provides much more than it should.

Catalyst: This is my take on Banachek's Reversal from PS1. My method harvests hits (yes's) to maximize impact

Rhine (and Roses): Is my handling of Jeff PIerce's "Telepa-Three". My handling of his wonderful three phased ESP routine with Zener cards. This is my favorite stand-up Zener card routine. My routine simplifies the means and increases impact. My handling leverages boldness and psychology for maximum effect.

Playing the Numbers: Is an esssay that desribes a frame of mind that opens a world of possibilities for people who choose to embrace it. This is an anti-method, so this will not appeal to all. Elements of this have been incoporated in all that I do. This explains a way to have people roll a dice in their minds and reveal the thought and other ideas of a similar ilk.

Golden: This is another group presentation that is a backwards type of charades. They do nothing but you can reveal the actions that they are thinking. Later they project an action to you, and you know what it is. This incorporates a seldom used method that all of us are aware of.

Head and Shoulders: Is a group presentation in which people type the words they are thinking of on your back and you reveal the words. The group is surprised when the audience memeber can do the same.

Unwritten: Is an emotionally evocative routine with pictures. This is both entertainment and wise advice. It is a prediciton effect, which also incorporates surprise. I think you will really like the simple means and the emotional impact.

I hope a desription of the effects help you. As always, I use simple methods layered with psychological elements to increase impact and expand the wonder. I hope you enjoy the ideas should you choose to entertain checking this out for youself.

It can be found here:

Message: Posted by: IAIN (Apr 5, 2014 05:16PM)
Just to echo dave's review - this is a splendid and very well thought out ebook, and sean's attention to detail, and clever use of subtle persuaders and timing(s) are always welcome, and always useful to me...

he has also written one of the very best sentences ever written in any mentalism book, in my opinion...
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Apr 7, 2014 11:45AM)
There seems to be a trend in many of the higher quality DVD's and eBooks being produced right now. It goes something like this: A clever designer (or a radical thinker) will share something. I'll sit back in my chair and think about it for a minute. I'll make all kinds of contemplative noises like "Hmmmm" and then I'll sigh. Eventually, if it's the right "something" I will take my pen in hand and start making notes and doodles in a vain attempt to capture fragments of inspiration. What I HOPE will happen is that the germ of an idea will start growing until it becomes something brand new and exciting to me.

Canvas, by Sean Waters, is one of those books. On the surface, I looked at many of these routines and decided that, not unlike TPR, a lot of them are perfectly geared to readers. And I'm not a reader...although I can certainly appreciate the cleverness of the systems suggested. The thing is, though -- that most of us in mentalism ARE readers in some context. I use TPR in nearly every show I do in one way or another. I have the sneaking suspicion that Canvas is cut from the same cloth.

To really "get" some of the ideas Waters is suggesting, I need to break down some of the concepts and re-construct them inside of a framework more customized to me. And there's some very "me friendly" stuff in this book.

You can read the specific routines elsewhere in this thread...but to be honest, I found more value in the nuances suggested: a fascinating idea for adding punch to a DD...a passionate argument for the use of con*ederates...along with an interesting idea or two for divining names in public places.

There's a common sense approach to many of the methods. But underlying a simpler system are the ideas of a performer who spends a lot of time thinking about how to do what he's doing more effectively. There are a number of off the wall routines -- and some inventive concepts, like a completely new take on "charades."

I have the sense that many of these routines will work perfectly for the performer who is looking for very good impromptu material -- and absolutely for anyone who does more conventional readings.

This book oozes attention to detail. It's beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated.

There are a pile of new books and DVDs on the market right now. Some will make you roll your eyes. Others will make you open them. Canvas is one of the good ones.

Message: Posted by: Waters (Apr 10, 2014 09:58PM)
Thanks David and Iain. I appreciate you both taking the time to post your thoughts.

Iain is referring to a question contained in the script for Seeing Stars, BTW.

While I can certainly understand the sentiment that much of the material is well suited for readers, I (in the strict sense) am not a reader. Instead it seems to me that a mind-reader should be able to be aware of themes related to personal choices and see the underlying meaning beneath seemingly innocuous choices. I hope those who read the book see it as such. Much in the ilk of "Mind Readings" by Kenton Knepper,my thinking is that we should see the entire iceberg (not just the tip above the water-line) .

We have countless methods at out disposal already, I have sought to take these ideas and reach a more resonant tone. Maybe some will find this to be the case for them.

And as Dave said, a mind-reader should be able to have a laugh (we are entertainers).

For those who have purchased this, It is my hope that you have found a meaningful touch or two to strengthen your arsenal.

With Regards,

Message: Posted by: psychomind (Apr 11, 2014 05:53AM)
Thanks for the review.
Message: Posted by: John C (Apr 15, 2014 10:33PM)
As far as a long drawn out detailed review.... It's not going to happen.

The key thing here is in trying to explain Sean and his way of thinking, creating, writing and always offering a very and more than fair product. You'll always get more than you pay for.

First of all don't take me wrong when I say trying to explain and use words to describe Sean is like trying to bring someone to Jesus. OK, see, already lots of controversy and grumbling. Well, too bad. What I'm saying is it's up to the seeker to find out for themselves.

In other words, with everything you've read about Sean at the Café, all the accolades from some of the finest performers, all the reviews and good things said about his books and effects by this time you'd think it's a no brainer that Sean is someone well worth looking into.

What I'm trying to get across is that Sean is someone well worth looking into!! Now, how hard was that?

Message: Posted by: Jeff Wassom (Apr 16, 2014 10:26AM)
Still haven't had a chance to read this, but in terms of creations, Red-Handed (from Ponderings) as a principle created a massive disturbance in the power of the psi-force.

Also, the general quality of Sean's writing shines. Need to get on CANVAS.
Message: Posted by: Ben Blau (Apr 27, 2014 02:06PM)
Ordered this earlier today, but have not received download instructions yet. This is an ebook, yes? Forgive me if I've missed something. Can anyone shed some light on this?
Message: Posted by: Waters (Apr 27, 2014 04:01PM)
Thanks Ben. I appreciate your purchase. You should now have the ebook. Please let me know if you do not see this in your inbox. I have sent a something extra for your wait.


Message: Posted by: Ben Blau (Apr 27, 2014 04:40PM)
Received! Thanks so much, Sean. I can't wait to read it!
Message: Posted by: Ben Blau (Apr 27, 2014 08:46PM)
Having my mind blown and expanded already. Sean is a genius. Not kidding here.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Wassom (Apr 28, 2014 05:05PM)
Just finished this gem. Lots of things for me USE.

My faves:

Galaxy has left my repetoire in favor of Dunn's Deal, but I don't currently have an ESP routine so SEEING STARS was a perfect fit. Brilliant use of a built-in feature for suprise ending.

I've performed CATALYST already to an astonished result. Probably my favorite item in the book in terms of how much use it will see.

NOMENCLATURE was awesome as well, and can see myself using this as much or more than CATALYST. Great anyplace, anytime, anywhere mentalism.

FRAMEWORK gives six pack abs to drawing dupes.

WHISPERS will fit perfectly in a card routine I've been perfecting.

CHAOS THEORY is a wonderful frame for P*TEO force.

PLAYING THE NUMBERS will probably end up proceeding a Dani Daortiz ACAAN I've been considering, and is another great anytime, anywhere, anyplace stand alone piece as well.

HEAD & SHOULDERS is a fantastic modern psuedo premise for revealing words.

I ordered this at the pre-sale price and feel like I stole something! Great work and good fun Sean. =)
Message: Posted by: Waters (Apr 28, 2014 06:32PM)
Thank you kindly for the comment (though, I am sure the compliment is not deserved). I am anxiously awaiting checking out your project. It has been one of the things "on my list". Your demo videos were incredible.

I am sincerely grateful for you taking the time to post your thoughts regarding a number of the routines. All of my work is pretty simple from a methodology standpoint, but I hope the nuances and structures help squeeze all the juice of out the "oranges". I am particularly glad you've enjoyed Catalyst as it really does provide a lot from such a(under-appreciated) method.

By the way, www.lybrary.com and www.monumentalism.net (which will list this soon) and my own website are the only authorized locations to purchase this. I appreciate all of you who have.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Wassom (May 3, 2014 05:58PM)

There is a large amount of retirees (38 year old kid here) in the condo community I live in, and accompanying women's group I'm sometimes asked to perform for on a moments notice (how can I say 'no' *lol*).

With an audience of ten or so looking on last night on 'right now' notice, I attempted Red-Handed with a Duplopia style effect as an out. Good response, and all I really I planned to do, but they wanted more, so did my version of Untouched/Specators Card Trick.

...wow, cool, show us one more...

Catalyst it was, with PIN frame I PM'd you about, drawing them in and justifying the process. Direct 'hits' on pretty much everything, finishing with a Peter Turner ruse (Penguin lecture PIN divination routine) where they lie and create a playing card divined along with last bit of info.

They were absolutey stunned in a 'how is that even possible!!??' way. Might as well have thrown the deck of cards away in terms of comparitive reactions.

High risk, high reward, in a pretty novel scenario. Good fun. =)

Message: Posted by: Looch (May 5, 2014 09:29AM)
Canvas is a fantastic ebook. My favourite of Seans to date, and that's saying something because I love all his work!
Message: Posted by: Waters (May 9, 2014 09:45AM)
I am glad you are finding material in Canvas that you can put to good use. I could not be more pleased.

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments. That is high praise indeed.


Message: Posted by: j100taylor (May 21, 2014 10:34PM)
I posted this on another thread but I wanted to echo my thoughts here:

I wanted some mentalism to read during my vacation in Florida last week. I have never read any of Sean's work, but I know I wanted to read Canvas. I took advantage of an offer for all of his ebooks (sorry I think its expired now). Boy am I glad I did! What great writing and some really good ideas. I am already almost done with Canvas and its good to know I have all his other stuff to read now. However, I think I am just going to re-read Canvas again. It deserves careful study. Great work Sean.
Message: Posted by: Waters (May 26, 2014 03:32PM)

Thank you for your interest in my material and for your comment. I am glad you've been pleased with what you've found. I hope you enjoy the rest!

Best Regards,

Message: Posted by: j100taylor (May 26, 2014 03:37PM)
I just got back from the supermarket where I was actively applying your DC principle. You are changing the way I approach mentalism. No lie.
Message: Posted by: Waters (May 30, 2014 04:22AM)
[quote]On May 26, 2014, j100taylor wrote:
You are changing the way I approach mentalism. No lie. [/quote]

I could not ask for a better compliment. I am honored.

Message: Posted by: pedrao15 (Jun 4, 2014 04:57PM)
Holy hell, just 2 hours in the forum looking for some "new stuff" and I already have put into basket an Osterling, Ken Weber and now Sean Walters' book.. ***.. R$ 350,00 already.. Haha, and the reviews look soooo great that I can't remove any of these 3! So excited to read them all ♥

Ah, btw, it's great to see that people are using the Golden Cricle principle, its just so great =)

Thanks for the review!

Message: Posted by: kannon (Jun 5, 2014 03:28AM)
Another quick shout out for Sean Waters and literally everything he puts out. Whenever I feel like incorporating or playing with a new idea, I always look through my library of Sean's material - whether for an effect, presentation or idea for a method.

Canvas: Great thinking, engaging presentations and beautifully put together.
Message: Posted by: Waters (Jun 14, 2014 06:25AM)
Your comments are appreciated gentlemen. You have my thanks!

With Regards,

Message: Posted by: John Locke (Jun 17, 2014 03:14PM)
I wish to add my praise for this book and my thanks to Sean for sharing it with us. There is a wonderful mood created by this group of presentations and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share in it.
As others have suggested, Canvas is a tour de force!

John M, Toronto
Message: Posted by: tgplano (Jun 18, 2014 07:19AM)
Canvas is an excellent book. I also got "Tailored Suits" and "Wonders". Both of these are also excellent with some interesting ideas.

But, just as important as the content of the books is customer service. Sean has gone above and beyond to correct some small problems with this order. There isn't a better vendor out there.

Message: Posted by: John Locke (Jul 1, 2014 12:47PM)
I finally found a location for the original Telepa-Three effect. For anyone looking for it you might try vermont-magic.com. They did not charge me an arm and a leg for postage.

Message: Posted by: John C (Jul 1, 2014 03:17PM)
[quote]On Jun 4, 2014, pedrao15 wrote:
Holy hell, just 2 hours in the forum looking for some "new stuff" and I already have put into basket an Osterling, Ken Weber and now Sean Walters' book.. ***.. R$ 350,00 already.. Haha, and the reviews look soooo great that I can't remove any of these 3! So excited to read them all ♥

Ah, btw, it's great to see that people are using the Golden Cricle principle, its just so great =)

Thanks for the review!

*puff* [/quote]

I would have put in the basket the Sean Water's effect. The Walter's effect is a ripoff! ;)

Message: Posted by: Waters (Oct 25, 2014 02:23PM)
I don't know what this guy said, but I like how it sounded.


Just saying!

(Thanks for reviewing Canvas, Julien)


Message: Posted by: ma-j-cien (Feb 27, 2015 11:11AM)
Hello !

hahaha, my pleasure ! I really enjoy your material, it's really inspiring !

Kind regards,

Message: Posted by: Waters. (Mar 24, 2015 06:23PM)
Thanks Julien! You are too kind.

Best regards,

Message: Posted by: Demitri (Mar 26, 2015 04:21PM)
Ummm... I'm confused. Do you have 2 accounts, now Sean?
Message: Posted by: Waters. (Mar 26, 2015 04:38PM)
[quote]On Mar 26, 2015, Demitri wrote:
Ummm... I'm confused. Do you have 2 accounts, now Sean? [/quote]

I accidentally got locked out of my account. I contacted the Café but could not get in using my former (now unaccessible) email account. I would love to be rejoined with my former self, but...
Message: Posted by: Demitri (Mar 27, 2015 12:07AM)
Well, it's good to have you back - whichever account you're on.