Sunday, April 08, 2007

Building Blocks

Easter Sunday is just another Sunday for me, but I couldn't help thinking about the millions of Christians celebrating the Resurrection today. That must be cause for a little more positive energy, don't you think? Maybe if there was a day in which the whole world thought only spiritual and positive thoughts, we could all be blanketed in good energy, even if it only last that one day.

Meanwhile, I am going through a Resurrection of my own. I often stop at my friend's blog site and last week came across this entry. It's a little art project she got from another blogger. I thought it would be fun, too. Instead of Post-Its, I decided to use half a normal US letter size paper for each day's artwork. I like the size and I had just gone through printing hell in which my printer munched up dozens of sheets of paper before I could print out the 6 invoices I needed, so I had lots of unusable sheets that would still be perfect for my daily drawings. Besides, I'm terrible at following other people's instructions, so I'm making it up as I go.

So this is what I do… I just draw something that represents how I feel that particular day. And add the date. It was already days after April first when I began this exercise, but I backtracked and began my "picture diary" from the first of the month because that's just the anal retentive Virgo I am. Well, I am fully caught up now and can do a picture for 8 April, later today.

Well, this is what I have discovered in doing this exercise: that it is a really, really good exercise similar to the one that was in the book The Artist's Way. I was given this book by someone who thought "the artist" in me was "blocked." One of the exercises it recommended for removing the "block" was to write a page a day in longhand. I did this for several weeks before realizing what that exercise was about. Writing -- or drawing for that matter -- stimulates a certain part of your brain. In both cases, it's really not about content at all. In The Artist's Way, it tells you not to be thinking about what you are writing and to never re-read it. That's because the exercise is not about what you write, but that you do it -- by hand. In fact, I think you could perhaps get the same results by doodling. The point is to do it every day, make it part of your routine. When you take a pen or pencil in your hand and make the motions that put something on paper, you are stimulating a part of the brain that is different from the part that gets stimulated by typing on a keyboard. I am guessing that it's also different from using an electronic tablet, though I'm not sure about that.

By the time I realized what the exercise was about, it had worked its magic on me. I went through a burst of creativity. Unfortunately, like exercising at home, without the discipline, the social reinforcement, the support system, one day you don't do it and then it's all over.

But I don't think creative blocks are a negative thing. In order to "create" you need time to "absorb." Can't have output without input, you know? In that sense, a "block" is a part of the "building block." Unfortunately, if it's your job to be creative, you don't always have that luxury and then it becomes a problem, but since I am not trying to make art a commercial venture now, I can take all the time I need, so I take the non-productive times in stride. Or at least, try to.

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