What is Your Personal Truth?

your personal truth - Dance Notes creativity blog for teachersAttending a comedy event last week, something struck me about what makes a successful act. Each performer needs to deliver a version of his or her personal truth. This is as true for a painter as it is a stand-up comic, as it is a singer.

Immersive Collaboration

The evening in question was hosted by an old friend I’d not seen for some time. He was a lecturer on the Performing Arts degree course at the university where I studied. One of the great strengths of that establishment was the amount of crossover between different disciplines. Therefore, as a ‘straight’ music student, I was able to immerse myself in collaboration with dancers and actors, as well as musicians from other backgrounds.

We chatted about how many former students from the university are still active in their chosen creative field. What all seem to agree is that we were given an environment in which we could explore, make mistakes and learn to ‘have a go’. In so doing, we learnt to put our whole selves into whatever challenges were thrown our way.

Sincere Commitment

Which brings me back to my starting point this week. In order to fully immerse yourself in a creative task, you need to be sincere in your commitment to it. And the only way for that to succeed is by finding your own truth within the art you are conveying.

Even – or especially – actors need to heed this advice. Clearly, their craft entails adopting personae that are, in once sense, ‘fake’. However, for a part to be believable to an audience, it must also be believed by its performer. So, the actor will find their own truth within a role and convey that via the character.

Deeper Engagement

But what relevance does this have to creative work with children? Actually, a great deal. If a child performs – say – a sequence of dance moves that have been given him or her by their teacher, they will, most likely, simply recreate the physical motion. Whereas, should they be invited to think of their own moves, they will instantly be engaged on a deeper level.

Now, they have ownership of their craft. The movements will reflect their feelings and beliefs in relation to the subject. And, of course, this will stem from what is true for them. Which is why, once set a task to create something on a particular theme, most pupils will find it hard to contain themselves. Ideas are not a scarcity for children – and the most valuable of all are their own.

Sharing Our Truths

By delving into their own truths, children are engaged on an emotional, psychological and physical level, all at once. We all have a physical response to our ideas and feelings. Sadly, much of the time, these impulses have nowhere to go. Through physical creative work, however, we can all – children and adults alike – give shape to our own individual truths.

Not only that but we can then see, hear or feel the truths of those around us. These can then be assessed and appreciated. We can discuss the relative merits of each and perhaps incorporate them into our own thinking. And isn’t that much healthier than typing our respective viewpoints furiously into social media?!

 


The Circus (KS1)

Circus (KS2)

Middlesex University Department of Performing Arts

Our Creative Partner: Make a Move

See, Hear & Experience!

See, hear, experience - Dance Notes creativity blog for teachersTo keep creative, it’s good to maintain a healthy level of regular input. So, be sure to get out there. Go see, hear & experience new art in all its myriad forms, as often as you can.

Last week, I went to see Rambert dance company. They were performing three new works by contemporary choreographers. All three were hugely inspiring. Each had a very different flavour from the next and the audience was rapt throughout.

Highlight

Before going to this show, I had taken a look through the program, together with a dancer friend. We had both recognised two of the choreographers but had not heard of the third. The piece she had created turned out to be – for me at least – the highlight of the evening.

So, on returning home, I looked up the person in question. She has worked as a dancer with a number of big-name pop stars. But her breakthrough as a choreographer came though her work with one Christine & The Queens. This was a wonderful coincidence from my point of view. You may remember, I previously mentioned the inclusion of dancers within several of this year’s Glastonbury headline acts. And the pick of those was – for me – Christine & The Queens.

Creative Touchstones

I find it fascinating to see which things resonate with me and how certain artists have a tendency to pop up repeatedly. This particular artist’s name is Marion Motin. I would urge you to seek-out her work and, if you get the chance, go along to see her piece ‘Rouge’ performed by Rambert dance.

But that’s just me. You must have your own creative touchstones. People who inspire you, perhaps in unfathomable ways. Performances that make you want to rush out and create your own masterpiece – whatever that may be.

The Stimulation Our Children Need

And, of course, the same is not only true of us but even more so for our children and pupils. At a time in which the creative arts are arguably undervalued, it is important that we do all we can to ensure our young charges get the stimulation they crave and need. This can be as simple as going to a local art gallery, attending a local theatre or listening to a concert.

And, in this digital age, I would suggest that experiencing these things ‘live’ and unfiltered is of particular importance. Any piece of art relies, to a large extent, on its audience. Viewing images of art works on a screen is not the same as standing among other gallery-goers and feeling their awe, wonder or – perhaps – indifference. Sensing the tension within the audience around you at a theatrical event is a completely different experience to watching the same performance on a television screen.

Making The Effort

So, whilst any exposure to art can only be a good thing, a certain amount of effort is required to maximise the impact of the experience. We need to mobilise ourselves to go out ‘there’; find the interesting stuff; seek what challenges us and remain creatively fresh. As role models for our youngsters, they too will benefit from seeing our engagement with the arts. And, as we all know, it doesn’t take much to pique their curiosity.

Happy hunting.

 


Alice in Wonderland (KS2)

Space (KS1)

Our creative partner: Make a Move

 

Knowing When to Stop

knowing when to stop - dance notes creativity blogKnowing when to stop can be difficult. It’s all very well having strategies and techniques for generating creative activity. But, how do you know when it’s time to switch off?

An Endless Task

I spoke previously about separating out your inner ‘creator’ from your ‘craftsperson’. Generally, in my case at least, the former will know when an idea has run its course. However, the polishing and finessing can – if you’re not careful -become an endless task. Or at least, you may easily overlook when it would be a good time to take a break.

To give a recent example, I was working on a new piece of music last week. The initial idea had arrived some time ago whilst tinkering at the piano and I had stored this for later use. Bringing it into the digital realm, I was able to play around with different sounds, rhythms and textures. All of which is a fun process and one in which I tend to become very absorbed.

When Enough is Enough

The hard part is to know when enough extra layers and sounds are enough. Similarly, finding new sections to complement the original seed idea can be challenging. These need to be consistent in tone and style, yet provide enough contrast to make for an interesting whole. Plus, of course, you are always looking for a satisfying beginning, middle and end to any creative project.

Working digitally has its advantages and disadvantages, as we have discussed. The upside is that anything is possible. The downside is – you’ve guessed it – anything is possible. Even once parameters have been set, a structure has been established and a solid framework built, there is still scope to get lost amid all that possibility.

A Kind of Madness

For me, a kind of madness seems to set in. I reach a state in which I can’t leave the thing alone. I am constantly drawn back to see what would happen if I cut this, tweaked that or rewrote the other. And this is the point at which there is only one solution. Just walk away.

In the cold light of a new day, everything invariably becomes much clearer. So, if you find yourself in this situation – whether composing, painting, dancing or any other creative activity – try to recognise the fact that it’s OK to leave. The thing won’t disappear, just because you have left it for a few hours. It will almost certainly reveal what excited you about it in the first place, when you return at a later time.

Time to Leave

In the meantime, it’s a great idea to physically remove yourself form the situation. If your project is computer-based, switch off and leave the room. If it’s studio work, go outside. In fact, going out into the open is never a bad thing to do. Fresh air, wide horizons and even the change in temperature can be instantly restorative.

So, if you are stuck on something at this moment, you have my permission. Take a break. Now. Put the kettle on; go for a walk; have a lie down – whatever works for you. Then feel the difference when you come back, refreshed.

 


Plants & Growing (KS2)

The Environment (KS2)

The Scented Garden (KS1)

Our Creative Partner: Make a Move

Under Pressure

under pressure - dance notes blogToday being World Mental Health Day,  it was a nice coincidence to find myself reflecting on a recent mentoring success. This was with an Asperger’s sufferer who was feeling under pressure. The keys to this breakthrough appear to have been space and respect. And both were applied by the student himself. Let me  explain.

Shut Off

Some friends asked me, a couple of years ago, if I could help their son with his music making. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call him Tom. Tom had been studying music at school and doing well. However, he has a form of Asperger’s that means he has a tendency to shut off if he feels under too much pressure. Tom’s teacher had spotted his potential and tried to provide plenty of encouragement. Unfortunately, this had the effect of making him withdraw and lose confidence in his abilities. So much so, Tom was in danger of giving up music altogether.

So, Tom’s parents asked if there might be anything I could do to help. They were most keen for him to rediscover his creativity and were not overly concerned about academic achievement. He knew and liked my music, so they thought I would be someone he could trust and respect. Whilst they live at some distance from me, I said I would see what I could do remotely.

Flexible Arrangement

We decided that the best approach would be for this to be a flexible arrangement. Rather than keeping to fixed times or days, Tom and I would have an ongoing dialogue. Tom could share his ideas and thoughts with me and I would provide feedback. I could also give him a window into my working life; sharing thoughts on things that motivate and inspire me as they arise.

Over the following months, we sent emails back and forth. Tom would sometimes send a YouTube clip of him working on a piano piece or singing with his guitar. I would comment on his work; pointing out composers that may appeal to his style and making gentle suggestions about where to take things next. I also let Tom know about music to which I had been listening, radio programs that may interest him; gigs I had played or attended, and so on.

Shared Interests

As someone to whom ‘teaching’ does not come very naturally, this situation felt very comfortable and real. We were just two people with a shared interest in music, swapping thoughts and ideas. The fact that I have experience of creating and performing for a living was largely irrelevant. But it was helpful in showing Tom his own potential. Once he could see that we are essentially no different from one another, this gave him licence to see his own ideas as valid and worthwhile.

There is absolutely no fault to be inferred on the part of Tom’s school teacher. It was simply unfortunate that well-meaning encouragement was perceived as unwanted pressure to achieve. Having said that, this is a constant danger, especially when we live and teach in an environment in which achievement is almost always expected. Ultimately, however, motivation has to come from pupils themselves for them to gain from their learning experiences.

Beyond Qualifications

In Tom’ s case, I am happy to report that he went on to study music at a Higher Education establishment. He continues to write  music and enjoy his own creativity. Not only that, but he recently gave his first live performance at a local festival. This, for him, was a huge achievement and way beyond anything qualifications or certificates could provide.

It feels as though what Tom most needed was validation. He wanted to know that what he was doing was OK and that his efforts were legitimate. I revealed to Tom my own haphazard thought processes and creative workings. And this showed him there is nothing special about me, even though he had admired my work for some time.

Space and Respect

Tom has therefore become able to believe in his own potential to do similar, if not better, work himself. The motivation was already within him. Now, he also has the self-respect and mental space to act upon it.

 


Ourselves (KS1)

We Are What We Eat (KS1)

Selfies & Photos

Our Creative Partner: Make  Move

a Creative Challenge…

a creative challenge make me something like thisThis week, I was presented with an interesting new creative challenge. Essentially, the task was ‘make me something like this’. But what does that mean?

The charity, Make a Move, with which Dance Notes has a close partnership, had been asked to produce some guided-meditation recordings for a client. Michelle, who heads the charity and is a key contributor to Dance Notes, asked if I could record her as she talked through the meditation. And this led to a new creative challenge

Authentic

We convened in my studio and Michelle asked if she could have a track she liked playing in the background. To make things as authentic as possible, she also had a volunteer to guide through the meditation as we recorded her speaking. I explained that, in order to keep the voice recording clean, I would send the music to Michelle’s headphones. I would then mix the voice and music for the final recording.

But there was a catch. Michelle did not have permission to use this music commercially. So, I offered to make something from scratch. And this was where the creative challenge came in. Whereas I have produced many soundscapes in the past, this was specifically to aid relaxation and sleep.

Do Your Homework

So, how do you set about achieving something like this for the first time? Firstly, you do your homework. I listened to the tracks that Michelle had been using and noted their key characteristics. I then set about creating something new and distinct. Importantly, though, the music needed to share the qualities that enabled them to serve their function.

This reminded me of a time, a few years ago, when I was regularly creating music to order for commercials. I had a very good agent, who understood what information I would need in order to fulfill a creative brief. It is astonishing how few people have this skill, though it’s actually not too difficult once you appreciate what is needed.

A Bit Like This…

Many people, when commissioning a piece of music, will say ‘oh, a bit like x’ or ‘something atmospheric’ or ‘energetic’. The problem is that one person’s idea of ‘energetic’ or atmospheric’ will be quite different from another’s. Similarly, to simply say ‘like’ something is open to interpretation.

If you are asking someone to create a piece of music for you (or a painting, a sculpture, a dance, a film, etc.), what you really need to do is tell them what qualities it should have. It is undoubtedly useful to have some reference material. However, without knowing what it is about that piece of work that really matters, there is scope for a lot of misinterpretation and wasted effort.

The One Element

In the case of music, the composer will want to know whether it is the style, the beat, the sound-pallet, instrumentation, genre, dynamics or whatever that appeal from the guide track. I could create something that, to my ears, sounds a lot like a chosen track but miss the one element that actually makes it work for the person who chose it.

Fortunately, in this instance, I was able to have that conversation with Michelle. She explained that she liked the electronic sounds, the lack of meter, the constant dynamic and the harmonic qualities of the guide tracks. So, right from the start, I had a set of parameters within which to work. I was therefore able to quickly deliver what was required.

Finding Qualities Within

Similarly, when working with children in dance, it is good to avoid saying ‘move like x’. Rather, it is better to ask ‘how does x move – what are its qualities?’. Then your pupils can try to find those qualities within themselves, rather than simply mimicking something they think you want to see. It’s a subtle difference but an important one.

The creativity comes from internalising ideas and owning them. One could argue that children already spend too much time trying to produce, on demand, what is expected of them. In creative work, they have licence to do the unexpected and feel good about their individuality.

I May Just Cry

And if you are ever in a position to commission some music from me, please don’t ask ‘can you make something like x’. I may just cry.

 

Our Creative Partner: Make a Move

The Scented Garden (KS1)

The Tyranny of the Screen

the tyranny of the screen - Dance Notes creativity blogLast time, I mentioned how I like to capture ideas by recording improvisations and then teasing-out the creative nuggets that appear.  A computer hooked-up to my keyboard aids this process. However, I neglected to mention that, quite often, I will also work away from digital devices to escape the tyranny of the screen.

Not Always Helpful

And this, I think, is an important point. Sitting in front of a computer screen – whether to write, compose, animate, ‘paint’, design or for any other creative activity – can be inhibiting. Or, at least, it can dominate your thinking in a way that is not always helpful.

We are so used to using screens in our daily lives that it is easy to underestimate to what extent the method influences the outcome. I am using one right now and it is quite possible that what I write or the way I express myself is being driven by that fact. Instead, why not sit with a paper and pen and write long-hand, before then transferring your thoughts to a word processor?

Liberation from ‘Efficiency’

Our fixation with ‘efficiency’ means that this may seem like a waste of time. However, having the freedom to sit outdoors, in a cafe, on a train or in some other environment, away from the computer, can be liberating and lead to thought-processes that may not otherwise arise. Similarly, playing a keyboard that is ‘just’ a keyboard may illicit different results to doing the same thing when a screen is in front of me.

When I wrote my last blog, I had recently started work on two new compositions. Each had arisen from simple ideas that had presented themselves when I was tinkering at a piano, away from my computer. I had the presence of mind to record what I was playing, so that I could later reproduce it in the studio and craft the results into a full composition.

Carry a Notepad

As a teacher, you will undoubtedly have many pressures on your time and resources. Having the luxury to sit down and think about what you want to do creatively with your class may be rare. However, it’s not difficult to carry a notepad around. It is quite likely that ideas and thoughts will occur to you when you are away from your working environment. Rather than trying to then recapture these, next time you are ‘planning’, try to make a note of them immediately.

How many great thoughts and ideas come to you when you are out walking, running, taking a bath or lying in the sun? There’s a reason for this: your mind is having the opportunity to unwind and this is when you are arguably at your most creative. Rather than then turning this into ‘work’, if you can store these ideas for later, when you are working, you can then get back to relaxing. Which, after all, we all need.

A World of Possibility

Of course, nearly everyone carries a phone these days. And most phones have the facility for you to write notes, record audio, capture video, etc. However, the moment you open this device, you are presented with a world of possibility and, inevitable, some of this will lead back to ‘work’. Try to resist the tyranny of the screen, in whatever shape or form. You’ll have plenty of time for that later.

In the meantime, let your creativity flow, capture the inspiration.

And… relax.

 


Toys (KS1)

The Seasons (KS1)

Dance Notes’ Creative Partner: Make a Move

The Creator & The Craftsperson

The Creator & The CraftsmanMy son asked me, the other day, how I generate ideas for compositions. People often ask: “where do ideas come from?”. The simple answer is that nobody really knows. However, I do know how to keep them coming. And this involves engaging your inner Creator & Craftsperson.

From Impulse to Outcome

We have already talked about the need to flex your creative muscles on a regular basis. And how it is important not to stifle the creative flow. But how do we get from the initial impulse to a finished piece of work (whether in music or any other creative form)?

I would suggest that there exists within us all two distinct creative types: the creator and the craftsperson. One or other may be more dominant in each of us but I believe we can, with practice, harness the unique talents of both. The trick is to allow each the space to work to their optimum ability.

Time & Effort

This reminds me of the oft-cited quote that ‘composition is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’. I may have misquoted that but you get the gist. The point is that creative inspiration can be fleeting, whereas the process of honing the original idea into something of value takes time and effort. But don’t let that put you off.

A few years ago, I set myself the challenge of creating a new piece of music every day. In the event, this became every working day, during school time (to fit with family and other commitments). Nonetheless, I did stick rigidly to that regime – regardless of my state of mind, health and spirit – for a whole year. And  I did this with the help of my own inner creator & craftsperson…

Simply Explore

In the evening (after putting my – then young – children to bed), I would sit at my keyboard and play the first thing that came to me. I would simply improvise until an idea took hold – or explore entirely free improvisation with no set parameters. My master keyboard is connected to my computer and I would record whatever came out.

Lack of Expectation

Normally I would use a piano sound for this, as it provides the opportunity to generate harmony, melody and rhythm all in one go. It is also an expressive and dynamic instrument and one on which I am not overly well-trained. This last point may seem odd but having a lack of expectation can aid the necessary ‘letting go’ that enables ideas to come freely.

Having found a motif, chord progression or soundscape that was pleasing, I would set about refining and learning this. Again, working at a computer means that it is possible to ‘cheat’ this process. I could play one segment at a time and overlay different parts or voices. During this stage I would tend to also find different sounds to suit the style of music emerging.

Knowing When to Stop

All of this would happen very quickly and uncritically. Often, I would reach a point at which I would start to lose may way or feel I was ‘over-cooking’ the ingredients. That would be time to stop for the night.

The next morning, I would return to what I had created. With fresh ears, I would invariably now be able to recognise what was working and what needed improvement. And now comes the crafting bit. This is when the creator needs to take a back seat and allow the craftsman to chip away at the rough draft until the polished work is revealed.

Review & Refine

Again, it is important to recognise at what point this process is complete. It is very easy to over-do the finessing until your creation becomes sanitised. My personal method is just to keep on reviewing, making incremental changes until nothing more leaps out as being ‘wrong’. In the case of these daily compositions, I may well return to one or other at a later stage and feel it needs something more (or less).

Moving On

However, it is good discipline to move on. There is always something you feel could have been better. And this provides impetus for the next piece of work. And the next. And so on.

So, indulge your creator. Give him or her licence to express and throw some shapes/sounds/colours/words around. Then invite your crafts-person to make sense of the mess. But make sure each knows when it’s time to stop.

Have fun!

 


Ourselves (KS1)

Rough & Tumble (KS2)

Our Creative Partner: Make a Move

Festival of Performing Arts

I had the great privilege of taking part in a festival for the performing arts last weekend in Somerset. You may have heard of it, it’s called Glastonbury Festival. Whilst there, a few things struck me, beyond the usual overwhelming sense of being awe-inspired.

Dance on The Main Stage

One was that several main-stage acts incorporated dance within their shows. And not just the usual seductive, eye-candy gyrations to which we have become accustomed. This time, there was a ballet duet (Stromzy); ‘Ballet-Boyz’ (Years and Years) and Christine and the Queens’ unique choreography. The latter was very much  an integral part of the performance. and it was especially interesting to see ensemble dance in which each individual was able to explore their own characteristics.

Contemporary Issues

A second aspect was that many acts drew attention to contemporary issues. Stormzy talked of the need for representation of all sections of society. Years and Years’ frontman spoke about gender issues, calling for acceptance and inclusivity. And Christine (or ‘Chris’ as they are also known) revealed how they often felt like an outsider and a ‘loser’.

Create Your World

Christine/Chris went on to say how they coped with that situation through theatre. They created their own world, one in which they could choose the role they want to portray. Standing on the Other Stage, as the final headline act on Sunday evening, Christine said they felt as though they had finally won something.

Role Models

What powerful role models these young performers are. Not only has each been able to transcend their individual circumstances, they have also created power from a position in which they originally felt marginalised. To then implore a huge live crowd – and even larger digital audience – to follow their lead is both brave and inspirational.

They stand as living examples to others who may feel similarly on the fringes of society. Whether through music, dance, theatre or other art forms, all can outgrow the limited perception of those around them. It is no accident that Glastonbury Festival has a reputation as more than just another music event. Beyond those main stages, people of all persuasions express themselves through myriad creative means.

Force for Good

That creativity seeps into the consciousness and being of all who attend. Even if, for many, this transformation only lasts for one weekend in the year, it is something to be cherished. And if we can somehow manage to recreate those feelings of openness and love in our day-to-day lives, then this is truly a force for the good.

You don’t have to be a superstar to know the benefits of creative freedom. None of those headline acts started out with the sole intention of finding fame. Each had a story to tell, a past to shed, a preconception to outgrow. And so, I would suggest,  do we all.

Festival Spirit

Maybe we should think of our whole lives as one big festival for the performing arts. Every day can’t be Glastonbury but we can at least try to bring some of that spirit into the everyday. 

 

https://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

India’s Festival of Colours

 

Go With the Flow

Last week, I had the privilege – once again – of doing some work for a local charity at Glastonbury Festival. If you’re heading that way, my advice is to go with the flow.

Esoteric Healing

Among my co-workers were an assortment of interesting characters. One of these works at the more esoteric end of the healing spectrum. We spoke about our various experiences with Tai Chi, Yoga, Bowen Technique, Alexander Technique, etc. It struck me that, whilst these each offer a different approach to achieving and maintaining well-being, they all have one thing in common.

‘Flow’?… Mumbo Jumbo?

All of these disciplines share an interest in ‘flow’. Now, to some people, delving into such areas may sound like mumbo jumbo and quackery. However, my colleague takes the healthy view that if something works for you, then why not go with it? And this is an attitude with which I wholly agree.

You can perceive this flow in purely physical terms. For example, body alignment will affect the flow of gravitational pull on the various parts of your anatomy. In response, there is a flow of muscle energy, working to balance that force. And, to control all of this, there is a flow of electronic signals between your brain, muscles and nerve cells.

Cut Yourself Loose

What some will have difficulty with are things like ‘Chi’. This is an unspecified energy but could be seen as the result of all the above. Whether we choose to see this as something mystical or purely mechanical does not particularly matter. The main thing is that we ‘go with the flow’ and allow the benefits to be realised.

In our creative work, we also need to allow this sense of fluidity. As with those healing disciplines, it is useful to have a methodology and structure within which to operate. The interesting part is then to observe the outcomes when we cut ourselves loose.

If It  Feels Good – Do It

For young children, this largely happens automatically. They have not yet learned to question why or how particular movements make them feel good. But for them it is simple. If something feels good, then do it some more!

Taking the next step to using movement in an interpretive way is also of little problem to most youngsters. Why not ‘become’ a monster/space ship/historical figure/animal/feeling or even colour? That’s what children do.

Mutual Learning

As adults, we can fall into patterns of behaviour – whether emotional, physical or (dare I say?) spiritual – that block the flow. And my colleague at Glastonbury’s work as a healer tends to centre on releasing such blockages. When working with children, we need to be mindful of our own restrictions. That way, we can enable them to exceed our limitations and stretch their own boundaries.

In turn, they value our guidance and respect our experience. In this sense, there is a ‘flow’ of learning that goes in both directions. In essence, we provide the framework and the children respond with ideas. We then work together with them in order to channel these into substantial creative outcomes.

Get Moving

And the beauty is that creative flow can also reduce or alleviate health issues. The blockages that can cause physiological or psychological harm can be mitigated through creative freedom. In a  nutshell – if something is blocked, get moving!

Whatever your beliefs, it’s good to go with the flow.

 

‘The River’ Teaching Pack for Key Stage 2 Dance

 

Do Something

Empty page, blank screen - nothing to write about - do something.I have nothing to write about this week. So, what do you do when you have nothing to say?… Do something!

Keep in Shape

Believe it or not, you are likely to have some of your best ideas at such a time. The important thing is that you exercise your creative muscles.

You need to make regular use of your physical muscles to keep them in shape. The same is true of your creativity. Rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, sometimes you just have to do.

Blank Sheet

As a child, I was a gifted artist. Or rather, I was good at drawing. I therefore made the mistake of thinking I was a gifted artist. I wasn’t. I would spend hours sitting with a blank sheet of paper, wondering what to draw.

Until an art teacher at school made me produce work at speed. He had us drawing with thick marker pens. We could not, therefore, erase mistakes and start again. We were made to work fast, try different media, confront our doubts and express ourselves.

Worthless?

We produced a lot of material that was worthless. Or so we thought. Our art teacher encouraged us to keep everything. He knew that, in that way, we would learn to value the process.

If you are constantly striving to produce something ‘finished’ and substantial, there’s a good chance you won’t create anything at all. You need, sometimes, to remind yourself that it’s OK to just enjoy the doing. What comes out of it doesn’t matter.

The Reward is in the Doing

Every professional dancer, musician, actor, painter or writer understands the need to practice their art. Many of them will put in many hours that are not rewarded in any obvious way. However, the reward is in the ‘doing’ itself.

And then, every so often, all those hidden hours will result in something that does become visible to others. Then a whole new level of reward is achieved. That of knowing the effort has translated to expression. And this has then affected others.

Do Something… Anything

The ultimate aim of communicating something that resonates with an audience is, thereby, achieved. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything comes from a willingness to jump in and start with something… anything.

So, where did I put those pencils? I haven’t drawn anything in years…