Learning to See More Creatively

Learning to See More Creatively

I hope everyone is cruising along with the first quarter challenge of a Daily Dose of Fiber. Lyn, from Rosie Pink, has been doing the challenge and I really liked her comment recently on the forum about how the challenge was working for her. Lyn said that she got home from work and didn’t really feel like doing anything but because of the challenge, she decided to go into the studio for five minutes to get her “daily dose”. She was only planning on getting a few things set up but three hours later, she had completed felting the outer portion of the vessel that she is working on. That is usually what happens to me as well. I might not feel like doing any creative work after I get home from work, but if I just start, I end up enjoying what I’m doing and I get tasks done that I might have put off.


The challenge is going in to the third week now. How have you been doing? Have you been able to get in five minutes of creative time per day? Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t. You can start this challenge any time. You didn’t have to start on January 1. It is really more of a decision as to how you are going to prioritize your time and what is important for you. For me, it is important to use my time wisely and I have a hard time now, just sitting around without a stitch project or something to keep my hands busy.

OK – enough of that. What I really wanted to talk about today was some fun things to try that will help your “creative” eye to see more clearly. There are inspiring things everywhere you look whether it be in nature or walking down a city street, you can find inspiration anywhere. But you have to look. Most of us rush through life, not taking the time to examine what is around us. Take a few extra minutes and look at the textures, patterns, colors, lines etc. around you. One way to do this is each day is to look for something specific. For example, today you might look for anything orange. The next day it might be crisscrossing lines or lines in broken pavement. Or maybe you want to look for certain shapes such as circles, squares or triangles. Carry your camera with you and take photos of things that interest you. Or better yet, take a notebook and draw/sketch what you see.

I know, I know, “you can’t draw”. I used to say that too. But drawing is a learned skill. It’s like playing the piano, you aren’t born knowing how. You can learn and with practice you will improve your drawing skills. I highly recommend this book:

This book teaches you about looking at the edges and shapes of objects. Instead of seeing a “bottle”, you are looking at the different shapes that make the bottle.  You are learning to really see the bottle instead of just seeing a generic bottle. Learning to draw trains your creative eye to see more clearly. Whenever I take the time to draw something, I always remember more about that drawing than if I took a photo. Even if I look back at the drawing much later, the memory is much more clear. (And that’s saying something these days!) That’s because I took the time to really look and see what I was drawing. I can’t say that I spend enough time drawing but I do enjoy it now and I no longer say “I can’t draw”.

I found this fun idea on the Create Mixed Media blog. It’s an idea from Margaret Peot. The photo above is from Margaret’s post. She does some really fun inkblot sketchbooks. This idea though is a variation on her usual inkblots. What she suggests is to take photos of clouds, sidewalks, old walls, anything with fun texture or line. Then you print the photos out on to regular printer paper and draw into them whatever shapes that you see. You can see her full post here.

Those are just a few ideas to get you started seeing more creatively. Do you have any other suggestions for others to try? Things that you do to get your creative brain working? I’d love to hear what they are. Leave a comment or join in our forum discussions.

17 thoughts on “Learning to See More Creatively

  1. The best teacher I ever had told us that artists are people who see things that others do not see. In college design class, we had an assignment to draw the same outdoor object every day, at different times of the day. I chose a tree in my yard. I had to draw it and make notes for 2 weeks. Each day I saw new things about it.

    1. That’s a really good idea Judy. As the light changes, so will the drawing. Plus as you look more carefully, you see more and perhaps come in with a different perspective.

  2. Kind of like the “Hay Stack” study by Manet, or is it Monet? Mmmm
    Anyhow, I like to create permutations on a theme, or how many different interpretations of a subject can be created. Kind of a collection.

  3. I like the variation on the inkblot photo – it’s great! I did something similar with a photo of a beach in Dorset called Durdle Dor. It’s in a part of England called called the Jurassic coast because of all the dinosaur remains that have been found there, and Durdle Dor has a famous rock formation that when viewed from a particular angle looks to me like an enormous prehistoric horse drinking from the sea. I printed off a photo last year and doodled the horse’s features on it with the idea of turning it into a felt picture….but I never got around to actually doing it.
    Here’s a photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Durdle_Door_Dorsit_England.jpg

    You are quite right about the value of being able to ‘see’ things instead of constantly rushing about. I can easily stop, several times, during a walk and ‘get lost in the moment of really seeing’ – much to the annoyance of whoever I’m walking with!
    If you find it hard to do, borrow a small child and go for a walk – the child will show you how to really observe things!

    1. I saw the horse right away Lyn. You’re right about small children. They haven’t lost their inner artist and they really see so much.

  4. I very rarely go out, but still manage to take 20 to 40 photos most days, there’s always something to see, something to look at in more detail. And its inspiration may not be immediately obvious, but just taking the time to look must get absorbed and used somehow 🙂
    I really can’t draw, my girlfriend is an amazing artist and she bought me ‘Drawing on the right side of the brain’, I really should find the time to learn.

    1. Zed – I almost included your moldy cheese inspiration in this post since it was perfect for seeing inspiration in anything. I tried the drawing on the right side of the brain book and didn’t like it as much as the book above. It’s not that you can’t draw, its that you never learned!

    2. Yeah, I never understood why we ‘did art’ at school right from the age of 4, but never once were we taught how to draw or look at things. I took art in high school and was constantly being told I was no good at it, I knew they really meant I was no good at what they thought was art and that they were very narrow minded, so I was never put off 🙂

    3. It’s a good thing you were never put off – I had the same experience in school and didn’t really start on my creative journey until I was in my 40’s.

    4. Aaw, you missed out on a lot, no wonder you are into so many things now 🙂
      I have had a few laughs at the comments from old school reports about how I have no grasp of art whatsoever 🙂

  5. Great idea the variation on ink blots. I love looking at clouds but never seem to take the time to really enjoy it. well a bit chilly at the moment to lie outside and daydream. That horse drinking was interesting. I looked at it the other way round and saw a sea serpent’s tail as its coming ashore. I need to get that book too. I always found art class frustrating they never seemed to want to teach you how to get the effect you wanted.

    1. Just take a photo of the clouds and then you can study them later. You should try the library for the book. That’s where I found it before I bought a copy.

  6. Ruth i love your stitch project picture. I’ve never been very artist ( i think to much ) lol but i love studying the cloud patterns and making up things with them. We have a tree line in the hills that when your driving at a distance from it theres always been a duck shape tree, kids used to love it cause we were near home when it came up. That books looks great i’ll have to think about getting it 🙂

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