Creative Experiment: Halfway Through

creative experiment

Back in November I started working through Marion Deuchar's book Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists, committing to doing every single exercise.

I called this project a creative experiment because I wasn't really sure what would happen. I hypothesized that working through every exercise in this book would yield creative returns, but I didn't know what those would look like. I hoped that it would help me to develop some creative discipline and that I would get better at creative play. You can read more about my expectations about the project here.

I'm halfway through the book now - I've (almost) completed 9 of the 18 artists - and I'm happy to report that it's going even better than I had hoped. This book has become a cornerstone of my creative practice, and it sets the tone for the work that I do later in the day. I've definitely become hooked on creative play, though the idea of discipline is kind of out the window since I look forward to each exercise so much and hate walking away when my time is up. I don't think I've ever been so happy to stick to an artistic commitment - I can't get enough!

Besides pure pleasure, here are some other things I've gotten from/learned from this experiment:

- This project has reinforced my commitment to doing what's most important first. And I deem creative play, experimentation, and learning as most important for me to grow as an artist and as a creativity crusader. I spend Monday - Wednesday at the office, and Thursday and Friday at home. On Thursdays and Friday I put working on the book as number one on my to do list. On the few days when I didn't go straight to my craft table (usually before breakfast), and told myself that I would work in the book after I finished my other tasks, it never happened. Not once. The only way that I made any progress was by putting it at the top of the list.

- I've been trying to incorporate a regular "play" practice into my routine for years without much success. Without a concrete goal in mind it was way too easy to put other things first. Once I finish this book I think I'll either start another book with similar exercises, or I'll set some kind of measurable, specific goal that I can work towards a bit each week. I've learned that I need assignments - whether they're given to me or whether I create them myself - to help me get things done.

- Starting the day off with play gets me in the right mindset for the rest of the day. Especially when I'm working toward a deadline, I often find myself taking my work way too seriously and letting it weigh me down. The pure joy that I get from printing with lids or cutting out colourful paper reminds me that I do this because it's fun. That usually takes the weight and pressure off and I enjoy the rest of the day so much more.

- Colouring in shapes and drawing repetitive patterns can feel like meditating. I find my mind often goes empty as I focus on the shapes and colours, and I feel rejuvenated afterwards.

- Doing the exercises that I don't like has value, even if I struggle all the way through them. It forces me to stay put, to avoid running away or hiding, to stay focused and to finish something. And I usually find something interesting in even the most unappealing assignments.

- Sharing on social media helps to keep me committed. Even though I don't have people expectantly asking when the next #drawpaintprint post will happen, it still makes me feel like I can't disappoint my audience (as imaginary as that audience may be) and I make sure I have something to post every week.

- Play time leads to good ideas. This was a hoped for outcome, and it proved to be true within the first couple of weeks. I did a few sketches of a "favourite object" - a cow's vertebrae that I've had since I was a kid - and decided that it would make a great linocut. I've also gotten ideas for teaching methods, and for specific workshops I could run.

I can't wait for the second half of the book. I'll be looking at artists like Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimpt, Paul Klee and more. Make sure to follow along on Instagram or Facebook!