Oh my, handmakers. Do you ever fall into a rut? When you just kinda go through the motions of your art? When your spark and vision have faded? Mal. Muy mal.
As an artist–and if you are a maker of any kind (a blogger, a product creator, a newsletter writer, even)–you are an artist, the effectiveness of your work relies on inspiration and execution. Let’s talk inspiration.
What is the most vital ability of an artist?
The ability to see.
I’m not just talking literal vision. I’m talking your aptitude for perceiving your world. Noticing. Making observations. About all the beauty, absurdity, subtleness, whimsy, and outrageousness surrounding you.
Once you truly see, next comes having a viewpoint about it. Taking in raw material and processing it through the unique filter that is you.
Finally, you do something, make something, in response.
Think of your favorite artist, be it Picasso, Lady Gaga, John Stewart, or Jessika Hepburn 🙂 Isn’t that essentially what they do? Notice something–a problem, a delight, a need–and create something in response? So what would happen if you were able to see more? To see richer?
This is the foundation of great artistry. And when you see your world, really see it, you open yourself to endless inspiration. My favorite way to flex those muscles is by taking what I call a Wonder Walk. This is easy peasy to do and I am blown away by the experience every time.
- Grab your camera. The one on your phone is fine.
- Pre-determine a limitation. You might limit yourself to texture, the color orange, decay, the letter “J”, or architecture. Pick something that sounds fun.
- Start walking. You choose the place.
- Photograph everything that falls within your limitation. This is not just about cataloguing; really take a good picture, even if it’s a photo of a trash can or a dead bird.
- Push the boundaries of the limitation. Is that swing set architecture? What about the anthill? Your boot?
- Go home and check out your new photo collection. What do you notice?
Wonder Walks are deceptively simple, but there are several things going on here. Working within a limitation will automatically make you see your world afresh. I guarantee that you won’t make it past your mailbox without seeing something in a new way.
And by taking a photograph, you are making a definitive decision about how you see something. You didn’t choose any ole angle; you chose this one. Because you thought it was best for some reason. Because you had an opinion about it.
In the end you have a collection that may just be a neat bunch of photos, or you may have the inspiration seedlings for a project. Either way, you will have new insight in the world around you. And that, handmaker, is the gold.
P.S.- Join us for the next #omhg chat on Twitter this Thursday the 20th from 1-2 EST. I’ll be co-hosting and would love to see you there.
I love going on wonder walks although I didn’t have a name for it before. Autumn is my favourite time of year and I’m always struck by the beauty in the little details of a leaf changing colour, the shape of a fir cone, patterns in the bark of a tree. I like the idea of setting a limitation so I’ll try that next time. Thanks for a great post!
Thanks, Isa! Happy walking, happy wonder.
That is such a fantastic idea! I wish I still lived in the countryside but I’m sure I can find wonder in the city too. Thanks for sharing 🙂
This is an awesome activity for anyone in need of a little inspiration or just something to mix up their routine!
Laura-thanks for this reminder. I think it’s funny how limitations can actually help shed light on something that might otherwise go unnoticed. Looking forward to bringing my camera on my daily walk and seeing how it all pans out…
Thank you for such a beautiful idea. I’m itching to go and do it right now!
I have never been Wonder Walking! It’s a fabulous name for a fabulous idea! I have been ‘stuck in a rut’ a feel and this is a good way to kickstart my creativity. Thank you – I shall share it with my eldest who will love the idea too!
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