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thoughts about creativity and  art:   live your life as your work of art.

How to observe like an artist


I’ve been drawing for most of my life , to capture ideas and feelings inspired by moments that catch my eye. As I tidy up I pause to reflect on and  draw  a lovely basket of fresh, clean, unfolded clothes and I think of  fresh beginnings .  A disorganized closet  stops me in my tracks. I draw it because I like to see the deep recesses and flowing linens spilling out of this dark mysterious cavern.

"Why would I want to observe ordinary, everyday objects and things?", you may well ask.

Suddenly you see so much color and beauty that, previous to conscious observation, you walked right by. You find yourself noticing the details and then the gestalt of a place. The places haven't changed. Your perception has!

The difference between looking and observing is why Jasper Johns began to make his paintings of oversized American flags, flashlights ,  and light bulbs. Functional easily recognized objects are very difficult to actually see with centered attention.We take them for granted.  Be aware of perceiving with all of your other senses and incorporate the feedback into your observations. To write, dance, scientifically investigate, act, compose & play music, paint, draw, sculpt you need great observational skills and then the ability to reflect.

This habit of observing & reflecting has motivated me to get up peacefully at 4 am in the morning to meditate, draw & paint, before I go off to work. Because of it, I have developed a large and strong body of art work. Practicing yoga and walking each three times a week keeps up my stamina and gives me time to observe. When I take the time to see, every nook and cranny holds surprises.

Your observational skills are easy to do in a few moments, you don't have to purchase anything, and you can do it wherever your day takes you. If i can't draw or take notes at that moment, I attempt to remember it for later.

Here are some suggestions for becoming a a keen observer:

1. Start your day with a quiet meditation. Starting your day this way can help you to remember  to make time to see.

2. Decide how you want to record your observations. You could take a photograph, record your voice or the sound on your phone or computer, write in a journal, make a video or draw. Make it convenient and easy to carry with you.

3. When you observe something that is significant to you, document your observations. Adjust the the time you spend to what is reasonable for you now.

4. If you don't even have time to stop, make a mental note to remember it. Without judging yourself,document it before going to bed. Its best to do this exercise one a day until you feel comfortable. Then you can move on to two observations. Its like running...not too much at once, You are in oservation training!

5Keep focused on the process of observing. It's a way of thinking that embraces and articulates the senses. Decide which medium or method above you wish to use. One is as good as the other.

6. Make this a habit and you will reap the benefits faster.

7. Keep your observations together and dated, so you can find them easily. You could use a program like journler or Evernote on the computer,  an ipod, a simple blank sketchbook , papers to be stored neatly in a portfolio.