Doodling, colouring & drawing

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.

doodle
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 contour drawing
BCD – Skull by Georgia O’Keefe

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.

 

 

 

Outside Your Lines, a colouring bookColouring 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!

 

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Unity in Diversity Artist Statement via video!

 

This is my artist’s statement about my new series of oil paintings called the Unity in Diversity series.  Less than a minute and perhaps, my more serious philosophical side.

 

 

If you’d rather read than watch – here’s a slightly longer version:

Unity in Diversity

It comes from the shadow and the light.

It comes through the torment of Orlando, Istanbul and Nice.

It comes from my inner dialogue about gender, race, religion and power.

And out of the magic and memories of our retreat in Spain.
It is from the jaw dropping beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the experience of hiking in alpine flower meadows. And inspired by the music of Peter Gabriel and Sting on stage together.

It even comes from an encounter with a Grizzly bear.

It is from the pure beauty of colour, a celebration of rainbows and the joy of creating from a place within – that I feel so blessed to access.

It is about letting go of the idea that unity is somehow perfect, that it is circular and smooth.

It is about acknowledging the contradictions of your wants, words and actions.

It is rocking a pinstripe suit and a tattoo.

It is about recognizing that conflict and difference need to exist – they are the seeds of innovation and creativity.

And that being Whole doesn’t mean you’ve got it all together.

Unity is messy and dynamic and it is ok if pieces stick out and bits hang out on the edge.

This is the celebration of unity in diversity within our own nature,
in our relationships, in our communities and in our shared humanity.

Namaste,

Marlene

 

A few pieces from the series:

 

Insights from “Inside the Painter’s Studio”

Cover of Inside the Painter's Studio by Joe Fig“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Chuck Close

Those words drew me into a book review published on brainpickings.org and eventually to purchase “Inside the Painter’s Studio” by Joe Fig.

The book is for a very specific audience. Fig interviews 24 New York artists and asks them a series of questions about their studio life.  He asks them about their studio set up, painting tables, kind of paints they used, where they sat to contemplate and what their daily schedule looks like.

Tea in my studio
Tea in my studio

I ate it up.   I loved hearing about their quirky little rituals (I have to bring tea with me to paint, I’m convinced it helps me resolve problems). I learned that contemplation is not the same as procrastination.  It was a relief to know that established artists have just as much difficulty titling their work as I do. He asked whether or not they listened to music (most did – I believe painting and music are sisters, muses for each other). I also enjoyed the plethora of stories around the “professional artist” label.

The magical bits came at the end of each interview, when Fig asked them if they have a personal motto about art and what advice they would give to new artists.

I’ll share the collection that I plan to post on my studio wall (or tattoo on the inside of my forearm):

“I believe very much in the power of artwork… it provides another kind of tonic in opposition to the kind of brutality and violence that we have around us.” Gregory Amenoff

“Life is short. Life goes fast. And what I really want to do in my life is to bring something new, something beautiful, and something filled with light into the world.” Ross Bleckner

“….the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will – through work – bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great “art idea.” And a belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel everyday.” Chuck Close

“…I want my work to have a little bit of a living spirit in each one…” Inka Essenhigh

“…the making is more important than the object for me.” Barnaby Furnas

“…great art should be vulnerable to interpretation.” April Gornik

“…you have to let the paintings lead you. You really have to let them have a life of their own.” Bill Jensen

“You are the best guide for your work and its path.” Julie Mehretu

“I think it is very very important for an artist to be truthful to themselves. I think the worst thing for an artist to do – ever – is to paint what they think other people want them to paint or what the market wants them to paint.” Steve Mumford

“You should do two things at once: what you do and what you don’t do. I think what you do instinctually proceeds from your heart. And what you don’t do is what you need to learn with your head. So you need to do both.” Amy Sillman

 

My studio on a busy day!
My studio on a busy day!

Lastly, Fig asks for advice to new artists. The overriding theme from the answers was about community. The artists recommend that you find your people, a group of like-minded artists that you can grow with and support. They believe that a peer group is essential to navigating your way.

I feel so fortunate to have the support of so many artists on the Sunshine Coast. Reading this reminds me of just how precious our community is. When you attend art shows, look around, the artists are there too, supporting each other.

I’ve been showing this past year or so in Vancouver and developing a community there too. Recently, I met 5 other artists at our opening at Unison.   It is a delight to meet artists in the city, regardless of our medium, we connect quickly, perhaps because the quotes above are our shared and unspoken creed.

Thank you for supporting art in the community you call home.

Namaste,

Marlene

 

Sample of Fig's model work
Sample of Fig’s model work

Note: The book is worth a review because of Joe Fig’s art itself. On first glance it seems that he has interspersed the book with a series of photos of the inside working of the studios often with a wide shot including the artist in the scene. On further inspection, you realize that Fig has constructed models, tiny models of each studio. They are overwhelmingly intricate and life-like, incredible pieces of his own art form. I’d be happy to lend out the book.  He has published a second book, “Inside the Artist’s Studio.”

 

 

Share Your Truth! – but what if you are not exactly sure what YOU want to say?

Speak Your Truth, Share Your Voice, Express Yourself!

I agree, we need you and your message, more than anything right now. We need positive change.

But what if YOU don’t know exactly what YOU want to say?

Awkward.

You know you are passionate about all sort of things, motivated to serve, to give and to share but it all feels like a bit of a swirling mess and you can’t quite put your finger on what YOUR voice is being called to speak about exactly.

Gail Larsen, one of the talented experts on public speaking calls our message our “original medicine.” In her book, Transformational Speaking, she explains that many indigenous cultures believe that we all have a unique message and gift that needs to be shared. She suggests that if you are struggling to define that message that you envision yourself in your coffin and imagine what your last words would be.

This coffin idea stopped me – mid sentence. It scared me. Desperation began to creep up my spine, I could see myself screaming –

Save the children!

Save the whales!

Save the earth!

Save yourself!

I put the book down, and took a deep yogi style breath and then, I knew my answer.

In my coffin or on my deathbed, I’d ask you to PLAY.

What?!

colouringphoto_19I’d ask you to think about the last time you spent time playing? The kind of non-structured, no purpose, for no good reason kind of play with no outcome or result expected or required. Period.

Why exactly would the world need you to play when there are so many serious crises and causes that need your attention?

 

Stay with me.

My inner artist and yogi would invite you to just love being in a body, your body specifically and I’d ask you to make stuff, you know, like craft time in kindergarten.

sunshinecoastyogafestival16I’d ask you to try yoga or to go dancing, swimming, hiking or go jump on your neighbour’s trampoline, (you know you want to).  I’d ask to put down the timers, the measuring tapes, the scales and stop taking it all so seriously.

Your body is not your life’s work. It is an expression of your truth for sure, but ask yourself this, are you operating from love or fear?

Your beautiful, life giving, supportive home, a.k.a your body doesn’t need a drill sergeant, it doesn’t want you to whip it into shape, to deprive it, to push it to the pain threshold and to submit to your will.

It desires movement. Your body asks you to take care of it and to treat it like you would your best friend. It wants to feel joy with you, it wants to eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast, it wants to stay up way too late dancing, it wants to skip the regime today and sleep in. Your body loves to celebrate and to play!

Your body is child like in nature and will take delight in the simplest experiences but it is also wise beyond measure.  It holds ancient messages that have been buried deep by our obsessions of superficial beauty, perfection and agelessness.

 

Your body is your home and within resides its soul mate, your imagination. The doorway inwards awaits you and play is the key.

Inside you will discover your message, your calling and that inner truth that everyone is talking about.

Let me explain…

pastelsCreative play, making a mess, being at ease with imperfection, letting the brain rest, and being in your body will help you enjoy the present moment and be fully engaged in now. Time away from productivity and efficiency will reveal what you deeply care about. You will discover what motivates you and playfulness will guide you beyond all the grown up reasons why not.

 

Play is freedom.

And in this state of freedom, trust me, you will start to hear your calling loud and clear. You will feel in it in your body, you will dream of it and ideas and words will start to form.

Play will introduce you to yourself if you take the time to listen.

With a playful spirit you can overcome all the I can’ts, someone else will, that’s a stupid idea, I’m scared to speak out, step up…

We need you.

Sorry, I know it is scary but we need you to dive deep, figure it out (make mistakes on the way) and share.

Creativity will guide you in. Through this deep connection with yourself, you will be motivated to create life-affirming positive changes.

We need that – let me be clear – we need life-affirming positive change, in short, we need you now.

Once you start feeling it, it will take courage to share because it might feel a little rough around the edges, not quite crystal clear. Share anyways because through the sharing, your message and your gift will gain momentum and clarity.

Even if you know your message, play will help you refine it and play will continue to be a source of inspiration, providing you new ways to share and serve.

 

Satya means truth

 

Your message is already there waiting for you. Enjoy the journey, my friend, I can’t wait to hear what YOU have to say.

And now you’ve had a bit of my medicine (no coffin required).

Namaste

Marlene