As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, over the next five days or so, we will be exploring each of our senses (sight, touch, sound, smell, taste and our minds) as “creative tools” we can access and use in our creative lives beyond the obvious roles each sense plays in our lives.
The challenge a lot of us face these days is we’ve become so “electronic oriented” and “rushed” that we can be easily distracted from the beauty and creative inspiration we zoom past each and every day. Other than slowing down a bit and glancing away from the computer to seek out sources of creative ideas, we need to take time to train our “senses” to become more “aware” of these inspirational gems. Once aware, we can then stretch our minds to explore fresh new ideas.
Below are two exercises that may help you boost your “creative eye” and start to see artistic vision in some of the most unlikely places. Keep in mind, for some people, it may take a few times practicing these exercises before it feels “natural”. To get the most from your experiences, be sure to give each exercise your full attention and focus; and please, do not feel like you have to finish all of the exercises in a one afternoon. Take your time, break it up, and enjoy the creative process.
Before beginning any of the exercises below, rest your eyes. Your eyes may be fatigued from a long day’s work at the computer, running errands, and such. This will also help to “settle” your mind as well.
- Lie down or sit back into a comfortable chair and close your eyes for five minutes. Try to clear your mind of any thoughts and just focus on your breathing.
- For especially fatigued eyes, make a jar of “cucumber water” and keep it in your refrigerator.
- To make: add 3-4 slices of cucumber (skin on or off – your choice) into a jar of water and place the jar into the refrigerator. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using. To use: dip two cotton balls into the cold cucumber water and squeeze gently to remove a little bit of the liquid so the cotton balls are not dripping wet. Lie down and place a cotton ball over each closed eye lid and relax. When finished, simply remove and toss the cotton balls and gently pat your eye lids/face dry with a dry cloth. Tip: Cucumber water also makes a very refreshing drink 🙂
Now with your eyes “refreshed”, let’s begin.
You’ll need the following supplies:
- A paint color fan deck from a local paint store. The more variety of colors the better.
- Notebook and pen
- 1 gallon Ziplock bag or a plastic grocery bag
- Laminate sample chips in the following colors: white, black, and a medium-neutral grey (be sure the sample chip has a hole at the top like the ones in the photo below – you can find these at your local home improvement store).
- Digital camera – optional, but can be very helpful
Exercise #1: Nature Scavenger Hunt
With your supplies in hand, go outside on a nice sunny day. You can go to your own backyard, take a walk around the block, go to a park, take a hike. The more diverse your surroundings, the better.
As you walk, look intently at your surroundings. Stop frequently during your walk and scan everything around you with your eyes. Be sure to look up over your head as well as down near your feet.
1. Find something from nature with the color orange in it (or as close to orange as possible). Be sure it is something that caught your eye and are drawn to for whatever reason.
2. With your paint color fan deck in hand, find a color that closely matches the color you found.
3. With the color identified in your fan deck, write the word “Orange” in your notebook followed by the fan deck color name and number.
4. In your notebook, just below the word “Orange”, write down what it is that you found.
5. Now, closely examine the object you found the color “Orange” in. What other colors are in this object besides Orange? Use your paint color fan deck to identify as many colors as you can that you see in the object. Write the fan deck name and number for each color in your notebook just below your note about the object you found.
6. If you can, place the object in your bag. If not, just leave it where you found it.
Repeat steps 1 through 6 for the following colors
- Your favorite color
7. Return home
8. Setup at a table where you will be comfortable and grab your favorite beverage.
9. With your notes and paint color fan deck in front of you, look at your notes on the color “Orange” and organize your paint color fan deck so that the only colors showing are the ones you wrote down for the color “Orange” (this includes the other colors you found in the object for the color “Orange”).
10. Observe your colors closely and how the colors relate to one another. Then ask yourself the following questions. You can jot down your answers in your notebook if you like. You don’t have to.
- Are you surprised by the color combination? Why?
- Is the color combination pleasing to you?
- When you look at the colors, what comes to mind?
- Go to your local fabric store and see if you can find a piece of fabric with these same or similar colors in it?
- How can you use these colors in a current or upcoming creative project? Challenge yourself to come up with at least one idea.
11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 for the colors:
- Your favorite color
Exercise #2: Distant Colors
With your laminate sample chips in hand, step outside. It’s best to go somewhere where there is a lot of visual interest you can see at a distance.
1. As you walk, look out into the distance. Find something that interests you and identify one color you’re drawn to within the object.
2. Pull out your three laminate sample chips.
3. Starting with the white sample chip, hold the chip in your hand so you are looking at the white side of the chip with the cutout up at the top.
4. Close one eye and hold the chip out far enough from you so you can see the color you identified through the cutout hole. Yes, the hole is small, but you should be able to isolate that one color. This is a trick some artists use to help isolate a particular color from among a sea of other colors in a natural landscape setting.
5. When you have the color isolated, examine the color closely. Is it the color you thought it was originally? In what way is it different?you want to take it one step further, identify the color in your paint color fan deck and make a note of the color name and number.
6. Move your laminate sample chip around freely to view some of the other colors that are next to the color you selected. Are the colors what you expected?
7. Now hold up, the black laminate chip and isolate your original color through the cutout. In what way do the colors look differently with the darker background?
8. Now hold up the neutral grey laminate chip. Same thing… In what way do the colors look differently with the neutral background?
9. How can you use this information in a current or future creative project. Really think this one through and come up with at least one idea.
Try these exercises in different locations and different times of the day. Observe bodies of water like the ocean, a lake, or even a small puddle of water. Your eyes will become more in tune with the vast amount of colors that surround you in your daily life. Hope you found these exercises useful 🙂
Go to the next post in my series: Day 21: Touch