Archive for May, 2010

Make your marks in the world.

08 May

We’ve created a world where the future is more valuable than the present.

We’re at the Louvre… rather than focusing on the artwork, we’re photographing it to view at home, on our laptop.

We’re at the Etienne de Crecy concert in London… rather then enjoying the show, we’re recording it to share on Facebook, with people who weren’t there.

We’re at a conference… rather than listening to the speaker’s message, we’re tweeting misleading summaries of the introduction.

By drawing, we can we slow down and harness the present moment.

Searching for ideas around you, you’re forced to see, rather than just look. You’re more closely observing the myriad styles of the people on the street, the design of the office awning, or the bird perched on a skinny branch; things you’d breeze by in your typical routine. As your pen moves slowly, tracing the lines of an object yet to be realized, your care-free view of the world becomes an opportunity to put things in perspective.

The process of sketching in a journal allows you to declutter your mind and still maintain a record for posterity. As you gather these experiences in one location, you begin cultivating a nest which fosters connections between seemingly disconnected ideas. Practicing creatively documenting your life opens your mind to whole brain thinking, allowing you to form new skills to connect with the world around you, seeing things in a new light. Beyond revisiting the journal, research shows that doodling aids memory by 29%.

So, next time you’ve got a problem at work or home, rather than commiserate with yourself, get out in the world and find an interesting place, person, or thing. Try to get it down on the page. You’ll appreciate the time away and a chance to clear your mind.

Just as a bird gathers disparate materials to make its dent in the universe, you must gather the present moments you uniquely experience to make your mark on the world.

Popularity: 6% [?]


Cultivating an Idea Nest

07 May

Idea Nest

On a run the other day, I noticed a lot of bird eggs that have fallen out of trees and landed on the ground.  A sad side note of springtime. It got me thinking about the potential in an egg and how that metaphor is so powerful when applied to our own lives. How can we push the edge of our own knowledge to give birth to new and better ways of thinking and creative ideas, without those ideas crashing to the ground like so many robin’s eggs?

There is a difference between gently pushing the boundaries of our own creativity and knowledge and pushing so hard that we push the ideas right off a cliff.  How do we find a way to slowly cultivate and nurture ideas?  Is there a way to put these ideas in a nest of sorts where they can hatch when they are ready? In my work as an artist, writer and teacher, my sketchbook operates as this nest. It’s a dumping ground for all unhatched tidbits that come floating through my brain. Those tidbits sit and develop into what they were meant to be in their own time. Often when I write something down, or jot a quick sketch of something, I have no idea of where it will fit into the overall picture, or if it will at all.  But gathering everything in one place – the lists, impressions, drawings, poems, you name it! – ensures that if it’s meant to be of use, it will be there. Waiting for the right time and the right circumstances.

So get into your sketchbook.  Start slowing down long enough to jot some stuff down.  Revisit this idea nest every so often to see patterns and potentials where you may not have noticed them before.

Popularity: 16% [?]


A simple pocket sketching combo.

05 May

A good friend, Joe Pestro, from my early days at Procter & Gamble recently asked, ‘What is your favorite small notebook + pen combo for sketching ideas?’


Everytime I leave the house, my right pocket houses a 3.5″ x 5.5″ kraft brown plain Moleskine Cahier and a .05mm Sakura Pigma Micron, in black. Very unobtrusive and always great to jot down quick notes, sketch out and idea, or draw an interesting scene to really get my mind racing.

Ideas need to be gathered, and revisited… they come at the most random places. Carrying a journal, you’ll notice ideas come from the most random sources.

Moleskine Cahier Pocket Plain Notebook 3.5 x 5.5 Kraft Brown

Sakura Pigma Micron Pen

Popularity: 35% [?]


Finding your voice.

04 May

An interesting thing happens every time I teach my sketchbook class at the Art Academy.  At the end of the 8 week term, students share their work and are surprised at how tremendously different each book is from the next.  Students have been introduced to the same materials, processes and instruction yet the differences are striking.

When Adam and I began the Drawing Down the Vision workshops, I was curious to see if this same phenomenon would carry over into the intensive 3-hour workshop geared toward the business world.  It did.

There are many ways to distinguish one individual from another.  We hear a voice on the phone and can often recognize it immediately.  Handwriting is another of these distinguishing characteristics and drawing is simply an extension of handwriting.  Introducing the drawn line into your arsenal of options for effective communication is a powerful way to differentiate your individuality among a large, often daunting field of co-workers and competitors.

In a group setting, the ability to draw out an idea on paper, or to take notes with visual elements, helps people with different modes of thinking better communicate. Drawing, even in the simplest fashion, is a way to stand out in the crowd as someone who can sort through a difficult problem and find a creative solution.  It doesn’t take much – a pen and paper and a willingness to find your own personal visual voice.  Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Popularity: 10% [?]


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