Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MPOW #18 - You, Artist

The late Gordon MacKenzie, a longtime creative force at Hallmark Cards, once told a story that quickly entered the folklore among designers. MacKenzie was a public-spirited fellow who often visited schools to talk about his profession. He'd open each talk by telling students he was an artist. Then he'd look around the classroom, notice the artwork on the walls, and wonder aloud who created the masterpieces.
"How many artists are there in the room?" MacKenzie would ask. "Would you please raise your hands?"
The responses always followed the same pattern. In kindergarten and first-grade classes, every kid thrust a hand in the air. In second-grade classes, about three-fourths of the kids raised their hands, though less eagerly. In third grade, only a few children held up their hands. And by sixth grade, not a single hand went up. The kids looked around to see if anybody in the class would admit to what they'd now learned was deviant behavior. - From Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind

This mindfulness practice of the week aims to help you learn about your artistic spirit or where it meant. This may be very difficult for you, but the rewards in learning are commensurate with the challenge. Good luck!


Gather some art supplies, it doesn't have to be fancy. Just ensure that you have some media. It could be as simple as computer paper and crayons or pencils or you could delve into paints and canvasses. You decide what's appropriate and convenient for yourself.

Also, and this is important: buy yourself a frame that you like to fit your paper or stock. Get the supplies that you need to hang it, and put the hook up in your home. At the end of this, you will have a piece of artwork to mount on your wall.

Make Some Art
Using your supplies, open yourself up to the creative process. Put as much of you as you can into your pieces. I highly encourage you to meditate before you begin with the pieces and then again throughout if there are any stumbling points for you. This is part of the mindfulness practice. See what you notice as you create your art work. Do you find yourself judging the artwork? Do you notice how tightly or loosely you are gripping the writing instrument? How do the textures of the media feel against each other? Do you have more control when you move slowly, moderately, or quickly? Do any memories or emotions rise to the surface?

Don't stop until you have created at least five pieces. You can create more if you so choose. Be mindful about what it means for you to stop and feel complete.

WARNING: Do not read the next section until you have completed this section.

Judge the Art
That's right, see what it feels like to bring judgment to your artwork. Perhaps you have already done so and this will be very obvious to you at this stage. Perhaps you never did judge either positively or negatively through the process, maybe you can get to know what you did feel or why when you bring your discernment into it. We make emotional decisions and choices every day--in fact, some studies show that without emotions, a person cannot tie his or her shoes because we cannot decide which foot to start with--what does it take to do it?

Rank the pieces in order of your favorite to least favorite. At the very least, choose your favorite one and the one that you least like. Perhaps the favorite one is the one that you want to frame on your wall because it is the most technically proficient, most interesting, best use of colors, reminds you of something. Perhaps your least favorite one makes you feel self conscious, makes you despise your own artwork. Now, do the opposite of what you would expect. Destroy your favorite one. You read that right. Tear it to shreds, burn it, draw all over it. Is this easy or difficult for you? If difficult, explore that. If easy, explore that, too. Are you attached to it? Then, frame the least favorite one and hang it on your wall. How do you feel about it when you see it? Does your missed line frustrate you? Do you not want others to see it? Is it hard to look at it yourself? Are you proud of having mounted it?

There's so much to explore and learn about yourself through this.

Happy Practicing!

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