Friday at Four #4 – Uncovering an inner rule?

Another week, another opportunity to play and experiment… and to share what happened during the latest Friday at Four play session!

What I did last week

Just as I had planned, I put the final touch to the illustration I’d drawn with my watercolour pencils the week before; that meant going over it with a brush and water to bring out the watercolour effect. It was interesting to see how it muted some colours, while making others brighter and more vibrant. This final step still involves an element of surprise for me, and I can’t yet see the day when it’ll be gone… which is fun!

What I’ve learned from that play session

No big discoveries or identity shifts this week! I noticed a feeling, though: not creating anything “new”, just adding water to what was already there, left a part of me feeling weird. (No matter that painting the illustration with water significantly changed it, and turned it into something new…)

That made me wonder: do I have an internal rule that I wasn’t aware of, saying that I need to create something new every week? After consideration, my conclusion is that I don’t think I do. It’s simply that a part of me would have liked to create something new in addition to finishing up what was there. That’s good to know; I’ll pay attention in the future, to see if that feeling comes up again.

My plan for this week

I have no new specific project in mind at the moment, so I guess I’ll see what comes up when I sit down to play with my art supplies.

What about you?

Did you create a little space for the practice of your choice this week? How did it go? What did you learn? What’s your plan for the next session?

Please share what you plan on trying or how it went last time, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – just let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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Friday at Four #3 – Identity adjustment needed

How are things going this week with your chosen practice? I hope you’re enjoying this opportunity to play and experiment. I sure am! Here’s what happened during and after my latest Friday at Four play session:

What I did last week

After sketching out a couple of ideas the week before, it was time for me to create the drawing I had in mind on real watercolour cardstock. I was afraid I’d get stressed out, focusing too much on the final product, and I wanted to stay mindful of avoiding that risk as much as possible. I’m happy to report that I was able to stay present in the process of making that illustration, without turning it into a Big Serious Thing. Yay!

What I’ve learned from that play session

On the technical side of things (because that counts too!), I’ve learned that when using those watercolour pencils on that cardstock, moving my hand on an already coloured part of the drawing results in smudging. Oops! That’s good information to have before I start going over everything with water to create the watercolour effect.

Besides that, I’ve learned that I am indeed able to stay in a mindful, curious, and playful mood even when the stakes feel higher. Setting that as my intention before getting started probably helped, too. Also, I was able to remember not to blow said stakes out of proportions. The possibility of “ruining” a piece of cardstock is not a matter of life and death!

However, the most important realization that came out of that art-making session was this: I need to revise one of the many pieces that make up my identity.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve self-identified as someone who couldn’t draw, at all. I shouldn’t anymore, as it’s obviously untrue.

I’m not a fantastic illustrator, but I can draw stuff well enough that other people can identify what I was trying to depict. Really, I have to admit that if this illustration was good enough that the whole idea behind it was clear, at first glance, to a friend who saw it through my webcam, while we were chatting on Skype – well, maybe I have to stop seeing myself as someone who can’t draw, after all…

So, I need to adjust my identity around that. Which poses the question: are there any other limits, related to art or not, that I’m unjustly imposing on myself?

My plan for this week

Easy peasy: finish this project. I only have to go over it all with a brush and water to bring out the watercolour effect. I’m curious to see in what ways this will transform the feel of this piece!

What about you?

Did you create a little space for the practice of your choice this week? How did it go? What did you learn? What’s your plan for the next session?

Please share what you plan on trying or how it went last time, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – just let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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Friday at Four #2 – Learning in a deeper way

Here we are, for this second edition of Friday at Four. As promised, I’m reporting back on my experience:

What I did last week

Having in mind that I want to create an illustration for a card I want to send to a friend, I decided to play around with the idea I had for it. I ended up sketching two versions of that idea on waste paper, with colouring pencils.

Although drafting and sketching are parts of the process I don’t always enjoy because a part of me wishes I could just skip to a perfect finished product right from the beginning, it was freeing to be able to just play around, without worrying about the results. It was fun to just let myself try stuff out and see what happened.

What I’ve learned from that play session

I was about to list a ton of little things I’d learned, when I realised they all had one thing in common, and it was something very interesting indeed:

Pretty much all of the things I’ve learned from last week’s art session, I already knew. Why, then, did I have the feeling I had learned them?

It turns out that I knew them intellectually and that through doing, my understanding of them deepened. What used to be concepts and ideas that made sense in my mind, I now get more holistically.

This gives me useful information as to how I can improve my learning in all areas, and it’s something I want to explore more. There might be a post about that sometime in the future…

My plan for this week

I’ll pick back up where I left last week, switching from the sketches to working on the final illustration. I’ll be mindful to keep my mind on the process and not worry too much about the finished product, and to remain in a playful mood. This might be a little more challenging now that I’ll be playing on watercolour cardstock and everything, but that’s the whole point of the exercise!

What about you?

Did you create a little space for the practice of your choice this week? How did it go? What did you learn? What’s your plan for the next session?

Please share what you plan on trying or how it went last time, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – just let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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Friday at Four #1 – The beginning

I’ve decided to try something new this year

You see, I have those lovely watercolor pencils. I have two pads of watercolor paper. And I have something that looks like a huge block when comes time to make use of them. I also have in my life a wonderful man who loves drawing, and who would like to make more time for it.

Put all of this in the back of my mind, let percolate a little, and poof! An idea came up: what if we dedicated one hour weekly to playing with our art supplies? And what if we committed to this together; it would make it much more likely that we’d follow through, wouldn’t it?

This is how Friday at Four was born

Not only did we think that sounded like a brilliant idea, we also thought it was worth giving it a fair chance to happen for real, so we picked a day and time for it on the spot instead of keeping it too loose. We knew that thinking about making it happen on a non-specific sometime schedule would make the idea fall victim to a very powerful force: inertia. We decided that this would be a fun way to end our work weeks, and so Friday at Four it is!

I’m both a little nervous *and* really excited! I know I’ll learn a lot through this little experiment – about art making, about loosening up and playing, about myself – and I’m looking forward to it.

I’m not sure what my play time will look like this week. I have the pencils, I have the paper, annnd… I also have the huge block, still. I have to remind myself to not complicate things unnecessarily, which can be a bit of a challenge for me. With that in mind, I think I’ll give myself permission to just play with color combinations, or something simple like that.

Will you play with me?

I’ll report back here every week, and I would love it if you wanted to join me.

Your thing doesn’t have to be art making; it can be any practice you’ve been wanting to create a space for in your life. You don’t have to do it on Fridays, or at 4:00 pm, or for any given length of time on any kind of set schedule.

Choose your activity, choose your time. Whatever you do, whenever you do it, you know that you’re not alone. I, for one, appreciate knowing we’ll be doing this together, and creating a supportive community around this playful experiment.

Considering that community is created through shared experience…

You’re welcome to share what you plan on trying or how it went, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – just let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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Fresh perspectives

When was the last time you did something that gave you a new perspective on the world around you? What was it that you did, and what effect did it have on you?

I’m asking because I’m kind of looking for new ways to get fresh perspectives on the things, ideas, situations in which I swim daily.

Maybe you’re in need of fresh-perspective-generating activities to try too? Here’s one I’ve experienced that was pretty cool.

Climbing on the roof

A little while ago, I needed to climb on the roof of my house. My house isn’t tall, it’s only one story high, and it’s deeper in the ground than it should be – so from the groud, it looks pretty low, really. Given this, I wasn’t expecting the view to be very different from up there.

Of course, I was wrong.

It wasn’t all that different, sure, but it still felt different enough to surprise me. It was as if I was seeing everything, even the familiar neighbouring houses, in a new light. The fact that I wasn’t expecting to be surprised only made the experience more surprising.

However, the most interesting part of the experience happened before I even set foot on the roof.

As I was reaching the last few rungs at the top of the ladder, I had a moment of hesitation. It was a tiny one, but still obvious enough that even my gentleman friend, who was on the ground, noticed it.

I wondered: what’s that about? I’m not afraid of heights, our roof is fairly flat, the whole thing feels safe. So, what was that about?

I had to think about it a little, and then it hit me.

I was near the top of the ladder and I was already seeing my surroundings from a different perspective. I was not even on the roof yet, and things already felt different – so my brain had kicked into “imagination” mode.

Not quite being there yet, my brain was imagining what it would be like, considering that it was already feeling different – and more different than I was expecting at that. It wasn’t different in a bad way, there was nothing threatening at all. However, human imagination being what it is, my brain was kind of thinking that once I’d be on the roof for real, it could only be worse. Of course.

Back on the ground

How is that relevant to my day to day life on the ground? Well, it became obvious to me that my brain does this very same thing in many areas of my life. Just when I’m about to reach an important point in a project, whether it’s the finish line or an intermediate milestone, I often find myself recoiling. It’s as if my brain was saying: it’s not so bad where I am now, but what if everything blows up as soon as I make another step?

More often than not, nothing blows up. It’s actually my brain blowing its fearful projections of the future out of proportion…

Getting back into now

What’s useful in those moments is to bring myself back in present time. Get back into my body, breathe, release anything that’s from the past or a projection into the future, and find my way back to what is the truth of what I’m feeling now. Then, I can reassure my brain that making the very next step is most probably not going to take me to a place that is all that far from where I am at the moment.

Isn’t it fun how climbing on the roof of my house gave me a way to recognise what’s going on with my brain in so many areas of my life?* It has become a good metaphor, a quick and handy way to remember what’s happening when my brain plays that kind of trick on me.
*That totally feels like a Shiva Nata moment, and I didn’t even dance on the roof! Ooooh, now, that’s an idea… ;)

Your turn!

Here’s where I’m going back to the beginning of this post:
When was the last time you did something that gave you a new perspective on the world around you? What was it that you did, and what effect did it have on you?
Thank you for sharing your fresh-perspective-generating ideas so that we can try them too!

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