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Posts Tagged ‘pay attention to what you pay attention to’

Synthesis and ‘Right Work’

05 Sep

SYNTHESIS (noun) \ˈsin(t)-thə-səs\ the combining of often diverse conceptions into a coherent whole

I have been able to distill from my many experiments and projects the ones that may actually ‘stick’ in the long run. I’m not blindly grinding away at the ‘wrong work.’

It’s been a wild summer ride around here at Drawing Down the Vision.  Adam and Amy have seen a rapid rate of change both professionally and personally in recent months and as we head into the more pensive autumn season, we are sifting through our experiences and new opportunities to see how it all fleshes out.

While Adam was busy moving to a new geographical location for work, I, Amy, took a few months off from blogging, teaching and art-making to go on what can only be described as a rather radical sabbatical.  Professional and personal travels took me to the desert of the southwest, the windswept coast of New England, across The Pond to Ireland, and many, many wonderful spots in between.  All the while, I had my trusty sketchbook close at hand to collect my seemingly random thoughts, drawings and experiences.

It’s important to get out of the usual routine that ties us to the day to day.  Sometimes we are only afforded the odd ten minutes to hit the reset button. Occasionally, we get the opportunity for more. Stefan Sagmeister’s year off dramatically changed how he approached his design business and my summer sabbatical has been the same for me.  Stepping back from the workaday treadmill can bring into full relief what is and what isn’t working in the studio.

I have been able to distill from my many experiments and projects the ones that may actually ‘stick’ in the long run. I’m not blindly grinding away at the ‘wrong work.’ I have been thinking a lot about where to put my limited time and energy to avoid feeling so scattered, which I did before this summer’s travels.

Author/ blogger Michael Knobbs writes about this phenomenon in his blog Sustainably Creative.  While I am not limited by any chronic conditions, I do have a full plate between familial commitments, hourly work (which pays routinely), art work (which pays only sporadically) and a whole host of personal, feed-the-soul kind of stuff.  What to trim and what to keep are more identifiable now.

Another important thing I re-learned over this summer’s travels was the importance of alone-time.  It is so easy to get trapped into responding to every last vie for my attention. Then, suddenly, I realize I haven’t spent time in my own company for days or even weeks!  Jacqueline Smith at Smart Solitude has some wonderful blog entries with gentle reminders as to how important time alone can be, especially for those following a creative path.

Synthesizing these lessons from time spent out of my element has created a bit of a sea change for me in life and work. We are interested in hearing about others’ adventures and how they affect one’s overall approach to the day to day.  Look forward to some guest posts!!!

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Where do good ideas come from?

19 Oct

A recent article on Steven Johnson’s new book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From‘ offers support for our practice of ‘paying attention to what you pay attention to,’ something which can only be achieved through journaling.

Steven debunks the myth that ‘Ideas just pop into people’s heads.’ Contradictory to the examples of how an apple hit Newton’s head and lighting struck Benjamin Franklin’s kite, ideas do not arrive in one fell swoop of glory isolated from the rest of our work. There is no muse.

But some may argue… ‘I definitely had the idea ‘click.’ Yes, there is a certain moment when we become aware of ideas… but they have been in our mind in some hidden form all along. I can often find precursors of thoughts posted in my journal 3, 6, 9 months before I realize what they really meant. After building enough of a critical mass in one specific subject or problem, the solutions begins to take shape and you can see all the other pieces merging into the final outcome.

Ideas are woven combinations of all the people, places, and things we encounter and work with, slowly burgeoning until we become aware of them.

So go ahead and pay attention to what you pay attention to. Spend a few minutes each day for the next few weeks journaling and drawing… and see what happens when you look back at it all. If you already journal, share back any interesting events you’ve had in being retrospective.

via CNN: ‘Eureka moments’ and other myths about tech innovation

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Ten Things Milton Glaser Has Learned, and is willing to teach.

01 Oct

I read Ten Things I Have Learned by Milton Glaser last night. Here is my favorite, an embodiment of how living creatively changes everything. Drawing is an easy way to get started.

7
HOW YOU LIVE CHANGES YOUR BRAIN.
The brain is the most responsive organ of the body. Actually it is the organ that is most susceptible to change and regeneration of all the organs in the body. I have a friend named Gerald Edelman who was a great scholar of brain studies and he says that the analogy of the brain to a computer is pathetic. The brain is actually more like an overgrown garden that is constantly growing and throwing off seeds, regenerating and so on. And he believes that the brain is susceptible, in a way that we are not fully conscious of, to almost every experience of our life and every encounter we have. I was fascinated by a story in a newspaper a few years ago about the search for perfect pitch. A group of scientists decided that they were going to find out why certain people have perfect pitch. You know certain people hear a note precisely and are able to replicate it at exactly the right pitch. Some people have relevant pitch; perfect pitch is rare even among musicians. The scientists discovered – I don’t know how – that among people with perfect pitch the brain was different. Certain lobes of the brain had undergone some change or deformation that was always present with those who had perfect pitch. This was interesting enough in itself. But then they discovered something even more fascinating. If you took a bunch of kids and taught them to play the violin at the age of 4 or 5 after a couple of years some of them developed perfect pitch, and in all of those cases their brain structure had changed. Well what could that mean for the rest of us? We tend to believe that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind, although we do not generally believe that everything we do affects the brain. I am convinced that if someone was to yell at me from across the street my brain could be affected and my life might changed. That is why your mother always said, ‘Don’t hang out with those bad kids.’ Mama was right. Thought changes our life and our behaviour. I also believe that drawing works in the same way. I am a great advocate of drawing, not in order to become an illustrator, but because I believe drawing changes the brain in the same way as the search to create the right note changes the brain of a violinist. Drawing also makes you attentive. It makes you pay attention to what you are looking at, which is not so easy.


A few books by Milton Glaser you should check out to learn more… Drawing is Thinking & Art is Work.

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Pay attention to what you pay attention to.

27 May

My journal offered me a phenomenal breakthrough today. I’d like to share how it all precipitated.

I went through my sketchpad the other day and tried to pull a theme out of what’s been going through my head and my life lately. The answer wasn’t immediately obvious. I realized there was no theme because… there was no theme. I was doing too much.

We call this retrospective process ‘paying attention to what you pay attention to.’

Knowing I was spreading myself too thin, like too little butter on too much bread, I decided I should make some serious choices in my life, and focus my energies. Here is how I represented my thinking on what I needed to do:

I was thinking about focus all wrong.

I thought I had figured it out. I would slowly cut out the diffusion in my life. In the end, I would be laser focused on what I really needed to accomplish in my life. Wrong.

After creating the original representation of focus… everyone around me was suddenly talking about focus! I was paying attention to how people focus, and pulling lessons out of this.*

In hearing so much more about focus, and pulling a few life stories from friends, I realized there was a hidden crutch buried in my original sketch: a need for comfort, security, and a fear of making tough life choices.

While reviewing my original drawing, I realized making a choice to focus your life is more like what I represented below. You need to make the tough choices you’ve been putting off, and commit to follow through on those choices.

The most successful people I know made difficult decisions and focused their effort on their top priority.

For example, John Traynor, made a commitment to follow classical painting when he was growing up in New Jersey, against the advice of many educators. He could have gotten a business and art degree at Skidmore College, with something to fall back on if art didn’t work out. He realized that lack of focus was setting himself up for failure. Instead he committed and persisted at the Paier College of Art. Today he is phenomenally successful.

The process of creative journaling offers me an opportunity to dissect my own thinking, and how focused it is.** The journal serves as a nest of ideas. It proves to be a very valuable tool as we all search for ways to live our life to the fullest and make our business a success. I’d love to hear how journaling and creative work fits into your life!

* We call this ‘The New Car Phenomenon.’ When you buy a new car, magically, you notice hundreds more on the rode than you ever noticed before!
**
We call this Diversity of Thought… words, text, and graphics all help you analyze your life and business from multiple angles, multiple forms of logic. You become your own critic, your personal sounding board.

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