fostering creativity

I have always found that exercises to help me be more creative are always useful. They help in all kinds of areas, not just in my artistic endeavours. Let me give you some examples. I have always tried to be more observant. I quite often find myself playing a game of observation as I walk down the street or are stuck on a bus. What I do is as I see something, I “say” it to myself. For example if I see a wall, I say (to myself), “a brick wall”, describing to myself not just the wall, but roughly how high it is, or what material it is made of. Or if I see a house, I will say “a 1930’s house with five windows”. Counting items is good if you normally don’t notice how many there is or something. It sounds trivial, but it really helps. I don’t count the bricks in a wall, but I do try to count larger items. Try it some time. You don’t have to do it all the time, but it does help if you can do it wherever you can. I also try to describe people, a 6ft tall blonde haired person wearing a red top with blue jeans. Eventually you might be able to internalise the process, so you don’t have to go through this process every time you see something. The point? Eventually you get better at observing and recalling information. The benefit? Lately I have had two situations where I have had to give a description of a person. Before I started doing this, I would have been hopeless. Now, I can give a pretty good description, not always accurate, but I can give a pretty good stab at it.

A more permanent version of this is to carry a digital camera aroung with you. A small 6MP that fits in the pocket is fine. Use it often, and take photos throughout your day. If anyone complains, say you are doing a it as a project for college! Look at the images in the evening. There will be a lot things you did not notice in the daytime, it all happens too fast. Notice those things that happened in the background, outside of your field of view. That person walking past with the grey clothes, that child running through a picture, a passing car. Try it for a week and see what detail you miss in your life. It will pay back eventually, but often in a way that you will not expect. I was taking photos of a street as reference for a drawing that I was planning, and ended up realising that I had pictures of people who were passing at that early hour. They were at first suspicious, but eventually my continuing reassured them somehow and they just wandered through the photos. I was just some guy taking pics. The pictures contained images of those innocent bystanders and was more revealing than the images I had intended.

These two exercises above will give you the basis to start looking at your creativity. Use them and see if you see any improvements!

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