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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

I’ve been writing a morning journal for the last two months, by hand, using a pen and flowing ink and scrawling my spider-scrawl across a notebook. It’s part of my new morning ritual and it’s a vital part, it empties my head for the day ahead. Takes the top layer off the chatter, tames the monkey.

But there is something that is strange to me that I can’t quite understand, and that is what flows when I’m holding the pen, compared to what flows when I’m typing with the keyboard. It’s like two completely separate voices. So right now, I’ve decided to experiment with my morning ritual and layer in this second journaling exercise, this time on my laptop. See what comes. Surely, as it was hard enough to fill the paper when writing directly into my pad, this flow would be completely void of character, information or, well, anything really.

keyboardBut strangely it seems that once again, my fingers, when dancing over those plastic keys, are more tapped into a creative aspect of my brain. Already I can feel a different voice speaking, or rather typing. Already I can feel creative juices starting to thaw and flow within my mind, they’re stretching and waking up after a long winter. And they weren’t there with the pen. This seems completely contrary to anything I read about the artist being connected to the physicality of the pen and the paper.

This reminds me of a seminar I was in earlier this week, about screen reading versus paper reading. There, the idea was that people are more comfortable reading in the format that they learnt to read in. So, most people over the age of, well, about 12, learnt to read and write using the pen and paper. So that is their default format when reading and processing information. But today kids are learning to read on tablets and computers, so their preferred learning and reading systems in the future are likely to be digitally based.

So why then, am I, most certainly a digital tourist, foreigner, alien, able to tap into a more creative voice (in my opinion) when on the keyboard? One that lies dormant and disinterested when I pick up the pen?

Maybe it’s because of the physicality of typing? I have always felt more comfortable expressing myself when moving.

Maybe it’s the speed of my mind, and my thoughts are more easily accessible when my hand can keep up with them.

I don’t know. It’s strange to me but I’m relieved that I can access it again. It feels like a release, meeting back up with an old friend.

And I was getting a little bored of listening to the action replay of my day in my journal, which the pen was affording me. This is much better.

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I dream of getting a puppy. A house with a garden and a vegetable patch. Time to create, to write, to paint. To spend time doing yoga, dancing, hooping, snowboarding, roller skating and playing for exercise. Meeting new friends and cherishing old relationships; friends and family. Completing new challenges and dreaming up new schemes. Helping others do the same and enjoying the adventure with like minded explorers. Not being afraid to try. Never being afraid to try.

2014 is just around the corner, full of promise, hope, potential, opportunity. It’s time to dream, to let imagination run riot, to paint a rainbow of possibility across your mind. Tint up your glasses with rose, etch those clouds with a silver lining. Make it happen, make it count, build up your dreams and run out into the world screaming at the top of your voice. Come on 2014 let’s see what we can do together.

In 2014 a friend and I are starting a club for 30 women in the Oxford area. It’s called the New Year’s Resolution Club. We’ll meet once a month for “class” which will be a monthly top up of creative journaling, networking and goal setting and tracking. It’s going to be a blast and I’m super excited to meet our first recruits for the year!

If you are in the Oxford area and fancy being part of our group, class enrolment is open! Sign up today and we look forward to meeting you in January!

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A month ago I was in America visiting my great friend and creative inspiration, Anita. I’ve had some short but incredibly powerful adventures with her over the last 18 months, from being slapped and covered in yogurt in naked bathhouses in Korea, to being her “drive-thru bridesmaid” as she walked down the aisle in Las Vegas, to our most recent adventure, tai chi and sand dollar hunting in her new patch on the planet, North Carolina (she followed the man of her dreams from Beijing to Raleigh, Durham!).

As Anita settles into her new groove she’s been dabbling in creating some beautiful art and I was lucky enough to have dinner with her and a tour of her recent paintings with an insight into the technique of intuitive painting. Anita had created some amazing, colourful, evocative, beautiful paintings. They sang and danced with feeling and little peeks of nature and creatures and I was captivated. She also allowed me to peruse her art journal, again each page packed with colour and intrigue; part scrapbook, part wall hanging, this seemed to be a wonderful collision of musing and art itself and appealed to the journal/diary writer in me, as well as the wannabe scrapbooker and closet painter (REALLY!!). As I bade farewell to Anita after that supper, I promised I’d send her some interesting tickets and bits from my next destination (New York) and I immediately wrote a mental note to Google “Intuitive Art workshops in the UK” when I returned home.

So I did both. I sent scraps of tickets and receipts to Anita when I got home, traces of my trip, and I Googled Intuitive Art. Alas, courses in the UK are few and far between. But I found an interesting book, “Brave Intuitive Art”. I read it. Then I ordered two stretch canvases, a box of 10 tubes of economy acrylic paints, and some foam brushes. They arrived this weekend. I got a buzz of excitement. I collected together a couple of jars and a fish shaped dish to mix some paint. And I waited…

It took me three days to be brave. Then, tonight, when my other half had left to go to the gym (a rare quite moment to myself!), I made the leap and ripped off the cellphane covering on the canvases and squirted some colours into my fish dish.

And suddenly I was so excited, and inspired.

I’ve been thinking about the white space on the canvas for a couple days. I’ve been projecting a scene from my memory when with Anita in North Carolina – walking along the beach with a sweep of yellow sand to the right and the tumbling blue sea to my left. So this is what I painted. And then I washed a sky – I read and heard from Anita that the starting point is the wash of the background. From there you add and build and it really takes its form through the layers and peeling and revealing the underneath.

I was using a foam brush, a completely foreign implement, but it was perfect. I let go of any desire for perfection, found my inner child and painted without judgement or criticism. It felt amazing! I then dipped the foam in water and swept across a stormy sky. The watered down paint dribbled and drooled down the canvas making beautiful lines like tears down the picture. I swept across with a clean brush and it revealed white streaks beneath the paint. It just got better and more interesting and more fun.

I was ready to leave that canvas for now and lay in out to dry, I’d suddenly been struck with inspiration for the next canvas and had to get cracking.

So I’m off to Australia in January and I’ve never been before. I’m looking forward to it a ridiculous amount and have so many expectations and dreams about what it will be like. So I thought it would be really fun to paint my current idea of “Australia”. Reds, browns, oranges. Rocks, mountains, roots. And a blazing sun scorching down.

And before I knew it, the doorbell rang. He was back from the gym. I had finished my brave intuitive painting just in time and I felt elated! I can’t wait to do the next step and start layering and building on my ideas.

So here are my paintings so far. They are just the start. I’m hoping they’ll look better by the end, but for now I’m revelling in the experience and the feeling of being swept up in a waft of inspiration. At the moment I am naming them “Kure beach” and “Australia” but that may change with time. I’m going with the flow, and it’s all thanks to Anita!

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This week, in the MOOC the topic is “Redefining the Human”. After last week’s readings and viewings around “Reasserting the Human” things start to get a little bit futuristic as we contemplate what the Posthuman will look like. And on the way to that, the TransHuman (even spookier).
And it’s pretty cool.

Again, there are some videos to watch, some are disturbing, some sad, some funny. And plenty of reading, all of which is, as ever, thought provoking. One particular article by Nicholas Carr (2008), Is Google Making Us Stupid? sparked an observation of my own behaviour…

“You are right,” Nietzsche replied, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Under the sway of the machine, writes the German media scholar Friedrich A. Kittler , Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style.”

This quote was in response to an observation from a friend of Nietzsche’s that his writing, once delivered through a typewriter (as Nietzsche’s sight was failing so he had to resort to the machine) had changed dramatically. In this case, it seems, for the worse, I however have the reverse experience…

I am a BIG fan of The Artist’s Way, although not having ever fully completed it, I have attempted several times and every time got something profound out of the experience. There is a fundamental component of the course, which is known as “morning pages”; a morning journal in which you write your thoughts and general stream of consciousness on waking. You’re supposed to write 3 sides of A4 and even if you run out of things to write, you should just keep going. Eventually you’ll uncover inner burblings and wisdom that reveal all manner of insights into your inner and outer life and generally help you to overcome artistic (or in my case just life) blocks.

Writing with a penI struggled with this for months, first of all I couldn’t commit to a notepad, then after writing for a few minutes my hand became crippled in a claw as I was unable to properly drive a pen. My handwriting has grown messy from years of underuse and I’d find the scrawl off-putting and ugly. BUT my main stumbling block was simply that my mind just wouldn’t work properly when holding the pen to paper. My thoughts would falter and tripping over themselves when trying to flow down my arm through my pen and onto paper.

One day, I stumbled across a post on some random website (aren’t they always random?). The writer admitted that that he also had a problem with the flow of his morning pages, until he tried typing on the PC. And then the magic happened.

Ok, so the pretty notepad goes out of the window, where’s the artistic connection as the energy flows along your arm and into this beautiful carved pen onto the page? Isn’t that part of the experience?

Hell no. I just need to express myself and do it NOW! I have a tonne of inner ramblings and musings all pressing against the door to get out. I’m starting to suffocate in a sea of those thoughts – let them out and I don’t care how!!

text on screenSo I did the same. I powered up the PC every morning, as the birds started singing, with my first cup of tea of the day, before I talked to anyone, and I wrote. And wrote and wrote. I found my voice.

All of a sudden ideas, expression, fears, hopes, dreams, and entire streams of consciousness poured forth and I couldn’t hold it back. I had literally unlocked my authentic voice.

And it was so good to finally hear it (only thirty something years into my life!).

It turns out how I write – typing on a device keyboard – is a fundamental part of my thinking process – part of an internal system that I use to access my thought stream. I simply can’t do it the ‘free hand’ way anymore. Or at least not in the same way. I should have known this to be the case, I find it easy to rattle off long emails full of expression to friends and family, and I love to blog – and always write straight into the “Add New Post” section, never constructing offline on paper first. This is HOW I write.

Should I be worried? Have I lost the ability to write by hand? Have my neural networks for that purpose been lost forever and completely rewired for devices? Does this make me one step less human and more robot?

It doesn’t frighten me. It excites me that I’m able to access my voice. It’s voice that I wasn’t able to “hear” (at least in the same way) before. I also feel like in some small way I’ve adapted to the technology age. I find it fascinating that by simply having my fingers dance across a keypad enables me to fully express myself, whereas grasping a pen and trying the same doesn’t. I can’t quite explain but it feels better too. I probably have stronger “typing” muscles in my fingers.

So whether or not I’m already on my journey to adapting and moving towards being a posthuman, perhaps not. I’ll have to have whizzbots implanted in my brain so I can think-type instead. Lord only knows what inner madness THAT will unleash. Stay tuned, it may make it onto this blog:)

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This week I’ve been interupting my daily grind with the wonderful excuse of the August Break. I’ve been stopping and looking at the food I’m about to eat, walking home on the other side of the road, looking down my straw at my coffee, peering into shop windows… It’s a fun experiment, and I pity the fool who is walking close behind me on the street when I suddenly stop dead and hold my phone aloft, zip it over to instagram and pap a random picture. But it’s a lot of fun. It makes the walk home from work longer, but infinately more interesting. It feels like I’m being a little more mindful as well.

Here is a selection from my week of random snapping. Well, not random, when the spirit took me…

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper of the Park

Iced coffee down a straw

Iced-Coffee-Cam

Leaves in the drain

Is it wrong that I’m looking forward to autumn?

Oxford

Walking on the other side of the street

Orchids and laptop

Breathing life into the office

Oxford Bridge of Sighs

Our bridge of Sighs

Dog walking sign

One day I’ll own many dogs

Sniffing out the action

Sniffing out the action

A tree to hug

A tree to hug

Squirrel Knocker

Squirrel knocker

Shop window

My favourite shop window

Weird world

Weird world

You can see the complete photostream of my August Break by hopping over to my Flickr stream, and a fabulous feast of all the other lovely photos from the whole group, here.

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The August BreakBeing a big fan of “papping”, when I’m out and about, I’m excited to stumble across this project – The August Break – on Susannah Conway’s blog. Yep, I know I’m more than half way through August, but there are no rules and I want an excuse to get my phone (Samsung Galaxy 2 with Instagram) out and zap a few things that tickle my fancy on a daily basis. Let’s distract ourselves from the routine for a few seconds each day.

So, here is a smattering of photos from my weekend adventure “Up North” – highlights included hanging with the swans at Rother Valley Country Park, indulging in 16 flavours of french macaroons from Chateau Gateaux, hitting the beach in Sheffield city centre and discovering it was twinned with Mars (!?!). Ace.

SwanBeach in the CityMarsMacaroons

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Lara came up to visit yesterday and we had a good old catchup on the sofa, which continued into a dinner and cocktails and ended with beers and bopping house music. During our musings, we covered our usual ground of work, love, life, hopes, fears, dreams, mortgages, babies, body, mind, spirit, travel, creativity. Coincidentally we both had copies of Wanderlust to hand, and we discussed our ideas for our next trips. Lara to Nepal, me to Costa Rica.

So after my crazy 12 hours with Lara, today has been very contemplative. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and mulling, and dreaming. Buzzing over ideas for creative projects, books I need to read, places I need to visit, towns I need to move to, alternative careers I need to explore.

With so many thoughts whizzing around I’m starting to feel a little all over the shop and desperately need to ground my thoughts somehow – catch them in a butterfly net and closely inspect the contents (and see if they’re telling me anything) – which leads me to my lightbulb moment – something I actually discussed with Lara on this very sofa 24 hours ago.

The answer is scrapbooking.

ScrapbookI have a scrapbook I bought years ago, waiting for me to dust it off and open the pages. I need to start collecting my ideas and sticking them in. Creating mood boards. As Lara said, you can have one for places you want to visit, one for your dream house, one for clothes you want to buy, for things you want to make. As well as creating a physical scrapbook, I can also make one online, via Pinterest (Lara’s already hooked), so I eagerly signed up today and am awaiting my login details…

Conincidently, I was just surfing to find out more about scrapbooking, and yesterday (May 5th) was actually National Scrapbooking Day (in the US, I think) – this feels like some kind of scrapbook intervention!

So, I’m going to experiment this month, starting tonight, by dusting off that scrapbook (I just bought glue) and starting to stick, and… we’ll see where it leads. It may be just a bunch of pretty pictures assembled in random splotches, BUT it may also help me to see what inspires me the most and start to navigate through the crazy networks of my hopes and dreams and it COULD reveal new directions and ideas to me. I feel a creative breakthrough coming on!

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