Tagged Blogging

Collage, then and now…

Thought I would share something different for this blog and do something visual.

One of the tasks, fairly towards the end of “The Artist’s Way”, and one of the more time-consuming ones, is to take about 10 magazines or papers and flick through, tearing out any images that seem to resonate or appeal to you. Once having done so, create a collage. The original task is meant to help you envisage and help you target your aspirations. It’s meant to appeal to you as a developing artist at that moment in time. I never found the collage the first time that aspirational, I couldn’t quite see it as a way to create an image of me in the future and the goals I was going to achieve. It did, however, offer me a chance to just be creative for the hell of it and make something that had no real purpose other than to just satisfy me.

Three months on you’re encouraged to update this and make a new one. Can’t say it’s been three months exactly, I knew it was “due” though and so threw this together over the weekend. If anyone reading this happens to be a therapist or psychologist and wishes to get in touch with some sort of an analysis, please do. I’d be fascinated to know what this came across as. In the meantime, I’ve done my own snapshot evaluation of the differences between the two…

Previous collage, created during “The Artist’s Way”

– The previous image seems a lot more chaotic, the current focuses on form, layout and landscape a lot more.

-The current image involves a lot of property (clearly on my mind as I’m thinking about ways to buy a house).

– The current image feels calmer and much more organised (perhaps insight into my psyche at the moment, I’ve been reading into things like minimalism and meditation)

– The quotes in the current image feel very aspirational and empowering. The previous just seem frivolous and disconnected.

– The current feels like a sense of perspective. The previous seems like an up close examination under a microscope.

I’m likely to do another in 3 months, let’s see how things change… If anyone fancies undertaking the exercise, it can be really quite satisfying to just sit and be creatively indulgent without having to spend a lot of money. It’s a great way of channelling your creativity in a new form or simply reconnecting with creativity in the first place.

 

Current collage, 3 months on

 

 

My review for Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s way can be found here…

As a followup, my thoughts on the 174 days of Morning pages created as part of m journey on “The Artist’s Way” can be found here.

If anyone feels like checking themselves into creative recovery and doing the “The Artist’s Way” themselves, find a link to the book here – I found it really useful to have my own hard copy. I’m a big fan of marginalia and annotation and this is a book that needs that kind of digestion to make it your own.

 

522 sides of paper – What I’ve learnt from 174 days of Morning Pages

Morning Pages, an essential tool from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”, consist of three pages of A4, preferably done in the morning, and are of conscious long-hand thoughts that cross your brain as you proceed to write.

Having done 12 weeks of these as part of finishing “The Artist’s Way”, you’re then encouraged to continue writing them for the next 90 days in a sort of remission like state. I’m just coming to the end of my 90 day stint and felt it warranted a blog of my experiences with them.

The process of writing down everything long as it drifts across your brain to fill three pages doesn’t sound too difficult, or so I thought when I first undertook them. It’s amazing how conscious you suddenly become that you are recording EVERYTHING; soon your stream of thought dries up and you’re left writing “I have nothing else to say. Literally, can’t think of anything.” As with any skill, you adapt and actually realise it’s fine to have these drought like moments. Having a moment of having no thoughts are in fact thoughts themselves. Similarly, this method of notation doesn’t have to be interesting. You aren’t writing to impress or publish. Cameron herself describes these as the lint roller or dust buster vacuum for the brain to clear your head of clutter, and it certainly works.

Morning Pages are an exercise and a safe space. Within that you’re able to achieve quite a lot in just being able to effectively have conversation with yourself – at a reasonable speed so your hand can keep up! – and you’re able to tackle any nagging matters. It’s a space where one is able to gripe and moan and never let the world see, but know you have “exercised your chimp,”, as Prof. Steve Peters of “The Chimp Paradox” would say, and cleared it from your system. Even at times you may find you have been able to debate and come to a more rational conclusion or better perspective.

These three pages of A4 offer a space where you’re able to answer questions, even the most trivial or seemingly irrelevant. Being in a position where I effectively don’t have a solid go-to source for my mentoring and so therefore rely on different networks of people and peers to help me in my development in offering guidance. It’s very comforting to be able to rationalise and expand certain thoughts or queries thoroughly. Note: as thoroughly as your brain will allow before you end up writing things like “I need to buy ______ today” and “Must text _______”

So what have I learnt? Firstly, that my brain manages to sub categorise huge parts of my life and keep them separate, but it’s a struggle to deal with them, and all of their must attend to issues, at the same time. Having gotten into the practise of Morning Pages I find my thoughts are a lot more comprehensible and I’m able to deal with each one much more effectively and succinctly.

Having slowed down my thoughts I also find I’m a lot calmer. Not everything seems to fly into my head at break neck speed, and when things do I can analyse a lot better. Not just at a surface level too. I’m able to identify where these thoughts might have come from and how to resolve any deeper underlying issues. I’m always reminded in this of mindfulness meditations when you’re asked to consciously observe your thoughts, remarking things like “ah, there’s worry”. It has been a helpful process to not only address surface level thinking, but take into account anything deeper that may need resolution.

Have I learned much about myself? Nothing too sensational or epiphanic that I didn’t know before, having now been presented with my thoughts on hundreds of pages of paper. I’m still me, perhaps a more refined version though. I do realise I tend to spread myself too thin and I’m hugely critical (of myself more than anything or anyone else). I think this a battle everyone deals with though, I’ve just not been as aware of it in my own psyche before.

I’ll continue to use Morning Pages, maybe not as religiously. If I miss a day, I won’t beat myself up over it. They are a great way to organise my brain and put me in the best way to start my day. Big issues suddenly seem logical and conquerable and minor niggles are weighed up and soon vanquished.

I’d recommend to anyone, provided they are happy to sit and openly write that they haven’t a clue what they are doing or why they are doing it, and don’t mind sacrificing a few trees worth of paper to do so! It’s a useful practice, give it a try.

WHY BLOG?

Well, it’s a question I have asked myself a number of times too. Blogs, for me, have always been something other people did and more often than not, something I was asked to contribute to by the production’s marketing team. I’ve never quite understood their purpose.

I’m currently using this year to really engage with my professional and creative development. By that I mean I’m looking at what I do, how I do it and why. I’m being asked to take on new responsibilities and roles, having been out of training for 5 years, my approach to work has changed. I value different things and different aspects of puppetry appeal to me. I feel I owe it to my own progression as an artist to be honest with myself and look at how I can support and steer my development moving forward.

Part of this has been an extensive amount of reading – I’ll be putting some book reviews up later – but this leads me on to answering “why blog?”
I recently read “Art and Fear: Observations on the Rewards (and Perils) of Art Making” by Ted Orland and David Bayles, and “Show Your Work!” by Austin Kleon; coming across both on various reading lists for creative practitioners. Interestingly, both of them  (despite the time difference in publication) discuss the idea of sharing the development of your work and using it as a recording and documenting process.
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“Art & Fear” makes an excellent point saying that art – in whatever form – is only ever seen by the audience as a final product. A painting hangs in a gallery, finished, a dance piece is seen rehearsed and under performance conditions. As such, an audience never really understands the development that the artist has gone through to get there. It may well be the artist didn’t intend to finish the journey with this result however, in the context of an audience engaging with it for the first time, with no previous knowledge, they will base their thoughts and opinions on what they see in front of them.
I remember, years ago, seeing an object/visual/physical theatre piece that involved a performer dipping themselves in ink and thrashing around on stage to create these very violent distressing black and white images on huge canvases, whilst his fellow performer played a xylophone style instrument made out of stones. I was later told after reading a blurb about the piece that it was an examination of the brief moment before a crow lands (specific, non?) An interesting and rich source of inspiration, however I couldn’t work out how they got to having a barrel of ink and a stone xylophone and this very manic performance. Not that I wanted to see the essence or an exact reenactment of a crow landing procedure onstage, that’s not what theatre is about (if I wanted to watch that, I would go bird watching), but I wanted to know how they got to what I saw in front of me. Even if it were to appreciate each moment of the process as individual art pieces themselves.
“Show Your Work!” encouimage1rages artists to share what they are doing, at all stages of the process. There are lots of different reasons for doing so – this book being published much more recently and aware of social media and online sharing platforms – however, in sharing, it encourages artists and audiences to engage in discussion and peak interest in work, educating and ultimately benefiting everyone.
Furthermore “Art & Fear”, being authored by practising artists, talks about documenting your work, and several artists sketch and notebooks which the authors found useful in their own development. Really I should be doing this on a daily basis and engaging with my creative thoughts. I did whilst training. I was expected to keep a journal which was to be a place to express what I was feeling in what I was learning and to document what I was coming across. Since graduating I haven’t really done so. I obviously keep books on projects I’m working on, however these are more pads to make me remember things from  meetings!
So, back to blogging and why I’m attempting to do it. Bearing all of the above and what I’m trying to do,  it’s a chance for me to document and record my experiences and thoughts as I am working, but ultimately share with you. I find a lot of people spend most of their time engrossed in what they are doing without understanding the “why”. As I’m going through a programme of self and creative development, but in understanding the reason why I am doing something, I’m hoping I can make what and how I do to achieve it much more effective and ultimately help my creative development.
I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride and exploring the inner ramblings of my brain.
Finally, some resources for you, in case you are interested…
 Links here for the books listed on this blog – but I’m sure they are also available in many good bookshops: