Achieve a Beginner’s Mind When it Comes to Your
Creative Practice

I encourage folks to take up making things with an open mind and a playful attitude—using our innate creative abilities to express oneself. Art making is enjoyable and fulfills a boundless array of needs in human beings—please do not stifle your own natural innovation and imagination. Enjoy the process and have fun—there are so many delightful surprises awaiting you in your work.

Sherri Lynn Wood advises on page 92;

Cultivate a beginner’s mind—the practice of having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject—when approaching art making.

Consider these suggestions on moving forward;

Focus on questions, not on answers

Respond to everything that comes with an attitude of not knowing

Be curious

Take it one step at a time—do not worry about a destination or making a masterpiece

Maintain an open mind about how to apply your wisdom and experience in each new situation

Let go of being an expert—take risks

Celebrate mistakes and look for fresh possibilities to solutions

Feed your sense of wonder and awe—tap into the excitement of life

Remember that we are mysterious and complicated, even to ourselves. Mkaing art does not require or mandate explaining everything that you create to others

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, Sherri Lynn Wood. NY: STC Craft, 2015.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau

You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.

Barbara Sher

If I get back into the beginner mindset, I can unearth energy and a fire that I didn’t know I could even still possess.

Peter Hedges

Write every day. Make writing a part of your life, but also don't be afraid of learning from others because I think you can. I still try to think of myself as a beginner because that way I can keep on learning.

Kimberly Willis Holt

From James Clear, “Others don’t need to lose for me to win. If you’re having a conversation and someone makes a statement that you disagree with, try releasing the urge to correct them. They don’t need to lose the argument for you to win. Letting go of the need to prove a point opens up the possibility for you to learn something new. Approach it from a place of curiosity: Isn’t that interesting. They look at this in a totally different way. Even if you are right and they are wrong, it doesn’t matter.”

Today's Inspiration Comes from Artist Philippa Stanton

How to combat burnout;
These small efforts are invigorating for creativity in some shape or form.

  • Plan and visit at least 3 different museums or galleries during the next month.

  • Draw something on a 3X5” index card or a “Post-It Note” every day for the next month.

  • Cook a meal that you have never cooked before---share it with someone, if possible.

  • Create and personalize a month’s calendar page. Write 1 word both every morning and every evening on each day.

  • Watch a documentary or read a book on a topic outside of your accustomed area of interest.

    Enhance Your Observational Skills by Looking;
    ABSTRACTING---a practice of visually defining objects by simplifying your view of their shape/form. A viewfinder is terrific for this practice.
    MATCHING---a practice of looking out for objects, colors, patterns or shapes that visually match others, but are functionally completely different.
    COLOR IDENTIFYING---a practice of identifying colors, particularly when at first glance you may not realize they are there.
    PATTERN SPOTTING---a practice of consciously noticing and looking for patterns, no matter how random, abstract or farfetched.
    JOY SPOTTING---Check out Ingrid Fetell Lee online!

Exercises for you;

  • Look up and find 3 things you never noticed before

  • Look down and count the different number of surfaces that you walk/move on during your daily travels

  • Look straight ahead and notice how much you cannot see all around you

  • Look for shadows and contemplate their unlimited shapes and tones

Daily Practice of Taking a Walk

  1. Decide first on your destination

  2. Try walking for at least 30 minutes (no smartphones)

  3. Take notice of everything around you

  4. While you are walking think about why you like or dislike the area

  5. Be mindful of your feet (or wheels) on the ground and your breath—how does the air feel?

  6. If you can, allow yourself to touch, hear and smell what is all around you

  7. Go back on the same walk, on a different day, and take photos of everything that interests you

  8. View and contemplate these pictures from a week’s time---what do you observe in each photo? Similarities? Differences? A story line?

  9. Organize your week’s observations into a record, journal, sketch or artwork

Perceiving Color Practice;
As a simple exercise, cut out 2 small squares, about 1X1”, of the same-colored paper. Explore placing the 2 squares on different colors of backgrounds (use paper, fabric, furniture, sidewalks, flooring, etc.). Play a bit with the spacing utilized between the 2 squares. How does the background/base color affect your perception of the color in the 2 squares? If you wish, record your impressions with writing or drawing.

Abstract Design Practice;
Choose an uncomplicated abstract painting and recreate with objects and/or papers (with cut or torn edges) that match/echo its shapes, colors and composition. Look for several objects or papers that can create a similar look to the painting—experiment with placement of elements. How deeply does texture affect your designs? Notice various textures: smooth, scaly, rough, spiky, feathery, crumbly, furry, shiny, matt, leafy or ragged. Contemplate your resulting compositions and document your research with photos or sketches, if desired.

SOURCE: Conscious Creativity: look, connect, create by Philippa Stanton. London: Quarto Group, 2018.

Inspiration From Nature

Sketching in Nature

In a nutshell, the best thing about drawing in nature is being in nature! Unlike in landscape drawings, however, in nature studies we lessen the distance.
Pay attention to the specific shapes of your subjects. Study their individual aspects. Shapes and textures can be seen in trees, symmetries in flowers. In other words, you will discover design principles in natures. Ultimately, your drawings will benefit from the specificity of your observations. Incorporate these design elements into your work.

When preparing for a drawing expedition outdoors, don’t forget sunscreen, insect repellent (ticks!), and perhaps a raincoat---not to mention the picnic basket!

SOURCE: Dare to Sketch: a guide to drawing on the go
, Felix Scheinberger. Watson-Guptill, 2017.
Page 83.

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