Creativity is the ultimate problem solver. The next time you have an issue at the office, a dilemma at home or are simply feeling like you are in a bit of a slump, try tapping into your creative side. Science proves that giving your analytical mind a break and allowing your mind to relax is one of the best ways to shift from confusion to clarity.
However, it can be difficult to relax if you have a deadline looming or an issue that continues to resurface over and over again.
My top 3 relaxation practices include meditation, moving my body (on my yoga mat or in the forest) and doodling, colouring or drawing. The latter are the cornerstone of an artist’s practice, no matter their medium. Just like an entrepreneur, a CEO or a parent, artists problem solve all day long. Sketching, doodling and drawing is a fast, inexpensive way to tap into a creative flow.
If you are intimidated by the thought of picking up a pencil or have scathing memories of previous attempts at drawing, I have some ideas for you.
Doodling is highly under rated. It is one of the most effective ways to slow your busy mind down to actually listen and concentrate. The word means to “scribble absentmindedly,” and synonyms include tinker, fiddle and trifle. No wonder it gets such a bad rap.
Here are some alternative thoughts and evidence from Sunni Brown’s website – sunnibrown.com/doodlerevolution/
- That doodling is as native to human beings as are walking and talking;
- That human beings have been doodling in the sand, in the snow and on cave walls for over 30,000 years;
- That we are neurologically wired with an overwhelmingly visual sensory ability;
- That doodling ignites four learning modalities—auditory, linguistic, kinesthetic, and visual—and dramatically enhances the experience of learning;
- That doodling promotes concentration and increases information retention by up to 29%;
- That doodling supports deep, creative problem solving and innovation;
- That doodling has been an ever-present tool, a pre-cursor and a catalyst for the emergence of intellectual breakthroughs in science, technology, medicine, architecture, literature and art;
- That doodling is and has been deployed by some of the best and brightest minds in history;
- And that doodling lives outside of the elitist realms of high art and design and is a form of expression free and accessible to all.
If you are still not convinced or want to learn more, watch her 2011 Ted Talk –www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown
I always doodle during a webinar or at a boardroom table. It helps me focus on what’s being said and keeps me from being distracted by my electronics!
Blind contouring drawing is another way to let go and learn how to go with the flow. The idea is simple. You focus on an object or a scene in front of you, place your pencil on the paper and slowly draw the outside lines of the shapes you see. You try not to lift your pencil off the page and the blind part means, you don’t look at your paper while you are drawing. I love to do this exercise in my workshops with people because whatever happens on the paper is just going to be interesting and can’t possibly look like the object or scene because we are “blind” during the process. I love the mark making of this style of drawing and the freedom it creates. I’ve been working on a series of blind contour drawings of famous women artist’s work (see my blog posts). It helps me slow down and really see all the bits and pieces. I appreciate the art even more after studying it this way. This is a great exercise to do to slow down and really see your surroundings. The results are surprising and fun!
A great reference for drawing in general is a book called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” by Betty Edwards. It is a classic. If you are interested in the science behind drawing and want to improve your drawing skills, I highly recommend it. It is full of exercises like blind contour drawing.
Colouring for adults has hit the mainstream in a big way over the past few years and I’m glad about it. I believe that most of us forget how to play and we forget that it is actually beneficial to create things that have no purpose, except for perhaps to just have fun. It is sad that we collectively feel that play time for adults is a waste of time. I’m so glad to see this colouring revolution, we need creative play not only to relax but to grow just as much as kids do.
There are so many amazing colouring books out there, I was so inspired that I created one too! It is called “Outside Your Lines.” I made a book for all of you free spirits who don’t necessarily want to colour in the lines or maybe the rebel in you is intrigued by the idea of creating something outside the box! I also made sure that there are not too many small bits so that you don’t need reading glasses to enjoy it. And lastly none of the designs are scenes or are symmetrical so you won’t feel restricted in colour choice. The book is also an introduction to the chakras (because yoga and creativity go hand in hand in my world), it is printed on 100% recycled paper and I’m pretty proud of the project! Reach out if you’d like to purchase a copy or follow this link.
If you want to see what inspires me, I’ve been sharing my blind contour drawings and some of my watercolour and ink doodles on instagram .You can even “win” a card from me, I mail one out each week!
Lastly, if you really think you can’t draw, Graham Shaw is out to prove you wrong. Grab some paper, a pen and give him 20 minutes of your time. Enjoy!