19/11/2018 – 23/11/2018
STUDIO: WEEK 8
8 WAYS TO FIND INSPIRATION
8 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR CREATIVE BLOCKS MELT AWAY
Contents of the envelope:
- 1 main instruction
- 8 black envelopes with TASK instructions
- 1 blue Spray can
- 1 blue 7/8 coin
- 1 surprise
READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU START
FOR EVERY LETTER YOU OPEN YOU MUST MAKE A DRAWING DEPENDING ON THE TASK.
ALL 8 TASKS SHOULD BE DOCUMENTED ON THE SAME A3 PIECE OF PAPER.
YOU CAN USE WHATEVER MEDIUM YOU LIKE TO, BUT IT MUST BE IN COLOR.
YOUR A3 SHOULD BE FULL BY THE END OF THE 8 TASKS.
YOU MUST START BY SHUFFLING TASKS 1 TO 5 AND PICKING ONE AT RANDOM. DO NOT MOVE ON UNTIL ALL 5 ARE COMPLETE.
FLIP THE BLUE 6/7 COIN TO DETERMINE WHICH ONE YOU DO FIRST.
TAKE TASKS 6,7 & 8 WITH YOU IF YOU NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE.
1: FRESH HOUSE = FRESH IDEAS
WHAT: Clean something significant in your room/ house. Draw on the A3 what you cleaned.
WHY: Your mind concentrates better when there is order.
In Michael Atavar’s 12 Rules of Creativity he stresses the importance of a neat and tidy space, because he writes: “If you are connected with your creativity, this can be the only space you need to flourish” (Atavar, p.25). He uses the example of Carl Andre, an artist who does not have a studio or office. He has a pen, notepad and a yellow book. He thinks of the idea, calls for the supplies and assembles in the gallery he is exhibiting in. I can’t stress how important this is, your life CHANGES when everything is clean.
2. SLUMBER WITH A KEY
WHAT: Place an overturned plate next to a comfortable chair (if you don’t have a chair, a bed is fine). Sit in a chair with your hands hanging over the edge. Hold your keys lightly between your thumb and index. When you fall asleep, your hand will drop the key and the sound will wake you up. Draw immediately on the A3 what you feel or saw.
WHY: Your subconscious mind is a pool of untapped sources of inspiration and just like meditation, this is another method of accessing it.
Dali used this technique to find new inspiration for his paintings, his paintings are so wacky and look like something out of a hallucinogenic trip. Sometimes we need to go completely over the edge and crash at the bottom of the cliff, look up and realise “thank God I jumped, that idea sucked”. You may also have a new perspective and have solutions to fix or enhance the initial idea. Our subconscious has all the answers, so why not find out what they are trying to tell us? In the spirit of crazy ideas, here is a very famous Dali quote to get you going: “I don’t do drugs, I am drugs”.
WHAT: Find an upright, comfortable position either in chair or a bed. If you chose the bed, place pillows against the wall for your back. Play this video on Youtube by Beyond Purpose: The Five Minute Miracle – Daily Guided Meditation. Go through with it. Draw what feeling you felt on the A3 during the meditation.
WHY: Total peace brings creativity. Less to stress about, more space to explore.
Some of the most successful people in the world meditate: Paul Maccartney, Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, etc. I chose two quotes from famous people that I think describes it pretty well. Steve Jobs said:
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”.
It almost sounds like a dictionary explanation, but then put into human context. It is pragmatic and it does the job, however we can not relate to it. So I found what Ellen DeGeneres said:
“Because it feels good. Kinda like when you have to shut your computer down, just sometimes when it goes crazy, you just shut it down and when you turn it on, it’s okay again. That’s what meditation is for me,”.
It is something most can relate too, it just makes sense when we compare it to an object. We humanise our laptop, because we sympathise with how a computer functions. They ‘behave’ like us. So if it is worth their time, it is surely worth your time.
4: OFF THE AIR
WHAT: Choose the word you hate the most between liquid, colour and food. Now on Youtube, write OFF THE AIR followed by the word of your choice. Watch the whole show uninterrupted (turn your phone off) in complete darkness. After it is over, choose your favourite scene. Draw on the A3 an image inspired from that scene.
WHY: Something completely random that makes no sense is the best way to distract and relax you. It also allows for new ideas to grow.
In Michael Atavar’s 12 Rules of Creativity he asks: “How do we get through a brick wall?” (Atavar, p.142), to this he answers: “The easiest way is to drive right through. However, take a more intelligent route. Push each brick out, until a small space appears.” (Atavar, p.142). This is what this video does, by diverting your attention to something else, your subconscious is not hello back by the conscious because it is distracted. Giving it freedom to push out the bricks. The goal is not to take down each brick individually, because with just one hole the whole brick wall can collapse into a pile of dust. By watching it in complete darkness, you won’t be distracted by what is around you.
5. 6 WORDS, 1 STORY
WHAT: Write then illustrate a story in 6 words on the A3 sheet.
WHY: By making something fun and completely unrelated you disconnect with the pressure of creating your finished piece.
In Danielle Krysa’s book Creative Block all the artists can not stress enough the importance of doing something unrelated, completely different or comfortable. E.g. Holly Chastain on page 143 suggests asking a friend for an assignment, on page 53 Anthony Zinonos proposes going to a thrift store, buying old magazines and making 5 new collages or on page 267 Jen Altman tells you to “get on the road!”. From making sculptures to tearing up artwork, doing something else always helps and if it is artistic, even better because you are still creating more content.
6. HUG A TREE
WHAT: Hug a tree, stay as long as you possibly can, don’t stop until you feel the tree hug you back. Take a picture of the tree and when you are home, draw the tree on your A3.
WHY: If it was not for trees you would not be reading this.
Gratitude is very important, thank those that make it possible for you to create art. All the middlemen that you do not see play a big part in your existence. Farmers, pilots, garbage men, they work so they keep the world spinning, and you make the art that keeps them from going crazy. Thank those everyday that make your life worth living, call your mother, call your father, call your best friend, tell your pet you love them. You are hugging a tree, but the hug is for everyone.
7: THE BIGGER PICTURE
WHAT: Type legal-walls.net/city/london and find the nearest, legal, spray paintable wall to you. Spray paint your own face from imagination with your eyes closed. Sign your name + date. Take a picture and redraw it on your A3 when you are home. WARNING: DO NOT PAINT OVER ANYTHING THAT LOOKS REALLY GOOD.
WHY: Leaving your mark on something bigger than you that you can’t take home is an act of charity. Leaving your mark on the community.
This exercise does it all. Changes perspective, changes surroundings, pushes boundaries, challenges you, opens you up and changes medium and surface. I think, as an artist, we all have a deep desire to paint on walls. It is something innate and subconscious, a little fantasy we all dream of doing one day.
8: THE SMALL DETAIL
WHAT: I give you this piece of chocolate as an act of thanks, now do the same for someone else, your mother, a friend or even a stranger. Give without expecting anything in return. Draw what you gave and how you felt on the A3.
WHY: Being nice goes a long way. What goes around, comes around.
In Danielle Krysa’s book Creative Block she interviewed 50 artists and asked them all what methods they use to unblock themselves. Warm-glow giving theory: The altruistic feeling of giving without expecting anything in return was a term coined by James Andreoni. I won’t go into the mathematics of this theory, but there are many reasons why to give and he calls it the warm-glow because that is what it feels like. One of the artists in the book called Amanda Happé uses altruism to fight creative blocks. She says:
“I challenge you to make and something and leave it somewhere public – somewhere it might be found. Something not too grand or careful, but honest and perhaps lovely. When you’re creating it, think about one person happening upon it. Make them a message. If you enjoy this feeling of caring about something without feeling precious about it, do it again.”
Going back to the warm-glow feeling from Andreoni, this is specifically what Happé wants to make you feel with this exercise. To make in order to please, it is as simple as a smile, because there is no pressure about what you are making and who is receiving it, by making something with love and releasing it freely in the world, you spread some more joy in the world.
Another method and little more direct is by Alyson Fox on page 273, although this can be purely altruist it works better when the recipient sends something back. She picks three random addresses and sends and scans personalised letters of a true story that happened to her. She adds a return address in hopes someone sends a letter back. This is such an amazing exercise I think one we should all do, it’s so intimate and secret, a letter is like meeting someone with meeting them. Because they’re holding a piece of you and you’re talking to them, you can tell the story over and over, until they are ready to answer you. Watch the animated movie Mary and Max if you want to see how one letter could change someone’s life.
Atavar, M. (2014) 12 Rules of Creativity, Kiosk Publishing
Krysa, D. (2014) Creative Block, Chronicle Books, LLC, San Fransisco, California
Dali, S. Available at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/salvador_dali_154013 (Accessed: 20 November 2018)
Ranker (2018) Famous people who meditate. Available at: https://www.ranker.com/list/celebrities-who-meditate/celebrity-lists (Accessed: 20 November 2018)