170220 Go Without: Creativity Exercise

Tharp recommends taking a week off from a norm in your life to feed your creative health. It’s like a non food diet, and doesn’t need to last forever, just enough to get the taste of it.


For most of this trial my ongoing experiment over the week has been the Mind Wander project in increasing time duration.  But for this final week I’m trying something different all week.  On page 32 Tharp recommends taking a week off from a norm in your life to feed your creative health.   It’s like a non food diet, and doesn’t need to last forever, just enough to get the taste of it.  This has been one of the hardest challenges of this six week trial so far.  Since I don’t have tons of routines, I decided to eliminate internet time.  I quickly realized there are a number of time sensitive tasks I have that utilize the internet, so I immediately needed to revise.  The revision I created was that I could only go on the internet with a specific purpose, get in, accomplish it and get out.  Monday I failed horribly.  I think I spent almost an hour to two hours of aimless time on the internet.  After that I did pretty good, until Friday again when I was off task for probably about 30 mins.  I like the idea though.  It seems good to have days or times when you just write your list of things to accomplish on the net and then get back to physical reality.  This is definitely not anything I could do forever.  There’s so much good stuff out there on the internet that is good community building and inspiring that I think I would be missing out.

You could take this exercise in a lot of directions though.  Tharp mentions some examples of a week without a watch, mirrors  or newspaper.  All could have very different effects on your reality.

After a week of doing this I think the biggest reward was having more focus and intention with my internet time.  Even when I slipped off track I was more cognizant of what I was doing, because I was self regulating.  Awareness seems to go a long way in terms of helping to curb unwanted behavior, but self-discipline is the big bouncer you need in your club to help awareness weave a path through the crowd.  Without discipline I think awareness could just make you feel bad about yourself.  It did that some for me, but because I did follow through on my commitment often, it wasn’t horrible.  And who knows for some people becoming aware that they don’t like their own behavior and feeling bad about it, might just be the kick in the pants they need to make a change.  Everyone is different.

170213 Twenty Questions: Creative Exercise

She talks about da Vinci and his ability to observe and question so many aspects of his current issue of interest.

On page 176 of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Tharp encourages people to be thorough.  She talks about da Vinci and his ability to observe and question so many aspects of his current issue of interest.  Tharp invites us to write down twenty questions that we have about a topic before beginning an investigation.  She says whether you are preparing for anything…from a drawing or to a film and more forming questions can help you to cultivate a sense of purpose and understanding.  I think it can also maybe help me to engage with my own mind about what it wants, or to challenge me to think more deeply.

The first challenge I see is to decide what I am interested in writing twenty questions about.  I feel there needs to be some sort of exercise to get me to a place where I’m ready for this exercise.  Since that is not provided I will have to try to sort this out myself…So at this point you may want to scroll down a ways to where I’m over this hump, move on to a different post or join my pain as I contemplate some possible topics:

Possible topics…  book I want to write about (sleep, water, two worlds)

spin dance study… ok that was easier than I thought, I am actually really interested in both those avenues and that took me less than 5 minutes to think up.

I will choose the Book for twenty questions to get me started into the creative process

  1. What will you name the sleep side?
  2. How will you identify the villains?
  3. What have they done that is so heinous?
  4. Will there be elements that braid the two worlds together?
  5. What can pass through the layer? Why?
  6. Is there a limit on extra senses for the sleep world?
  7. Is each person the only one with that ability or can it be held by multiple people or are some traits singular and others more mundane and wide spread?
  8. How can sleep be stolen?  Water?
  9. How can this be made more relevant and relatable to today’s world?
  10. Is there are more important factor that should be addressed instead?
  11. What is the main goal of the protagonists?
  12. What is the main goal of the antagonists?
  13. Is there a middle ground?
  14. Do we at times get to see things from both perspectives?
  15. Do we get personal with both sides?
  16. What kinds of messages should be sent?
  17. How soon are duel personalities revealed..if ever?
  18. Which characters are aware of their flip side presence?
  19. How do I make sure it isn’t cheesy?
  20. HOw do I make it realistic?

In a way I like this idea of presenting questions, but then in a way it is overwhelming too.  As I pile up the questions before me that need to be answered I feel further from my goal because I see more to do.  I guess it is also a starting point and I can try to tackle something once it has been named.  Perhaps on another day I can use my creative time to start to design possible solutions to some of these questions. This exercise took me 20-40 minutes.

170207 Copy an Artist Exercise

After doing this exercise I definitely get it more. So don’t listen to me, just try it. Whether it’s dance, or draw or rap or whatever.

ok, to be honest, I was So not looking forward to this that I pushed it back a day.  I didn’t have any idea who I wanted to pull from.  But, this is one of Twyla’s exercise ideas from her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.  She explains that to be great sometimes we don’t know where to start, so we should follow the example of work we appreciate.  If even a bit of their creative spark can rub off on you, there’s no shame in admitting that they inspired you.  After doing this exercise I definitely get it more.  So don’t listen to me, just try it.  Whether it’s dance, or draw or rap or whatever.  As they say, fake it til ya make it ;).

I had been avoiding visual art for this study because my paints aren’t with me currently, so I felt like I couldn’t really do visual work.  I haven’t drawn seriously in a very long time.  So this exercise was great for me to see that I still have some technique bouncing around inside me, even if it never feels like that lately.  Usually when I draw I hit a point where I like it and I don’t want to wreck it.  That happened with this piece too, but my boyfriend said, “You always tell me I have to work through that point.”  So I took my own advice.  I also think as I get older I’m loosening up a little.  It’s ok if it doesn’t turn out perfect, there are bound to be some portions where I feel like something is working or improving and that’s enough.

So without further ado, here is the drawing I did last night and one in process.  Along with the source image from the Medicine Cards book, illustrations by Angela Werneke.  It took 1-2 hrs.

I didn’t do it quite like her, in pointillism style, I guess it was the feel of the animals that I appreciate most in her portrayal.

170131 Magnetic Poetry Creations

Light your lamp like the never blind divine, unleash history before time.

Once upon a time I started making my own magnetic poetry pieces.  I bought small sheets of magnet that were sticky on one side and started cutting out words from magazines that were colorful, interesting font or just words that weren’t cutesy or erotic as most of the store bought magnetic poetry sets are limiting.  I move a lot so I don’t always have time to set it up on every fridge in my life.  But when I do, I tend to use it time to time.  I have lost most of the record of these creations, but I’m going to try to start gathering them here.  So here are a few that I made recently and just found the photo-evidence of.

Sometimes the words are close, but not exactly what I’m thinking, so I will write the poem out next to the picture.

Here is the poem to match the lead photo:

Written in Columbia Falls MT Oct. 2016

Adventurous girl,

prepare tomorrow.

Ignite the song,

lucid heart candle.

Light your lamp

like the never blind divine,

unleash history

before time.


A minute (my newt) star appears

Before vanishing near

Our memory of moments and dreams


be irratic,

truth is beyond skin



no thresholds on love.

Actually, what?

just discover.

img_0477be truth beyond skin, discover what you love.

170130 Arranging Objects exercise

“…one way she uses to see things anew is by throwing coins onto a surface and manipulate them into different arrangements.”

In Tharp’s book she says one way she uses to see things anew is by throwing coins onto a surface and manipulate them into different arrangements.

.  As a choreographer the arrangements could be translated into formations of dancers or movements or many things, it’s just a free form activity that helps the mind shift modes.  I tried the activity on Monday and used some random chunky beads from my jewelry making supplies.

This may also be a good activity to help kids categorize objects.  They could pick a qualifier and sort and arrange according to that.  One of my arrangements used only the natural wood feeling beads.  To do two outer circle layers I told myself I would not use two of the same type of bead, so they would all look different. In one sort I used only dull/ muted colors Etc.

170129: 60 Uses for 1 Object: Creative Exercise

So, pick a common object and try to generate 60 different ideas for it’s use.

Tharp observed, when she offered this exercise to crowds, that the first third of responses were common responses. The middle third were more interesting and the last third were often the most inventive.  So, pick a common object and try to generate 60 different ideas for it’s use.

Object: Paper Clip

  1. hold paper
  2. pick an easy lock
  3. picture hanging hook
  4. fuse breaker
  5. skewer
  6. weigh down paper airplane nose
  7. fake sword wars
  8. make jewelry
  9. zipper pull (first feeling stuck)
  10. chain together to make plant hanger
  11. hair clip
  12. make a bra a razor back
  13. hold a fold
  14. build a trivet
  15. lengthen to make antenna
  16. prison weapon
  17. stir stick for epoxy/ super glue
  18. finger nail cleaner
  19. doll house lamp stand
  20. flatten and make an instrument
  21. fondue dipper
  22. pusher for reset buttons
  23. sharpen, heat and use as ear piercer
  24. temporary pants button replacement
  25. combine together to make model human figure
  26. homemade fishing stringer
  27. puncture tool
  28. put in someone’s engine to wreck it
  29. melt down and make into something else, like false tooth/bullet
  30. collection of various kinds
  31. table mosaic material
  32. attach to stick bottom- pointed to make trash collector
  33. make an ant bridge
  34. make a maze
  35. car body for remote control car
  36. kite frame
  37. Microsoft word assistant
  38. Stop motion animated character
  39. unbend for new glasses stems
  40. bubble maker tool
  41. easter egg caddy
  42. simple engagement ring
  43. false god
  44. tool for weaving
  45. spit wad catapult
  46. game spinner
  47. artifact for future societies
  48. unfurl for bra/ corset support wire
  49. bra hook
  50. I phone sim card remover
  51. bookmark
  52. (really stuck here) disco ball making material
  53. branding tool
  54. make heart for valentine
  55. reusable twist tie
  56. car vandalizing tool
  57. release air from rubber balls
  58. unfurl for tic tac toe board
  59. hook in plaster mold
  60. wedge

170123: Name Your 5 Biggest Creative Fears

This exercise is from Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life p. 31

Tharp challenges you to name your fears in order to face them and then focus on how you might be able to overcome them individually.

  1. I won’t be able to keep up with all the things I want to accomplish.
  2. Will I make things worth the time spent?
  3. What is something unique that I can contribute?
  4. Do I have enough energy to be successful?
  5. Can I find quality mentors? How?

I will work toward answering and nullifying these questions over the next few weeks.

170119: Mind-Over-Body Game & Doing Wood burning

“… a cool foray into a new art form.”

One project I’m working on during my attempt to try to develop a creative habit in my life is to complete a wood burning tile project.

For my birthday, my boyfriend designed a cool matching game.  Once you turn over a match both people do the action and everybody wins.  He created four matches so far: Cat/Cow pose, Invert, Piggyback, and Climb.  He intentionally left some tiles for me to complete so that we have both contributed to it’s creation.  I have never done wood-burning before, so it will also be a cool foray into a new art form.  I was inspired by what he has done already.  Here is the inventive pouch that holds the game pieces, instructions are burned into the inside leather.  These are the birch tiles he made and wood-burned with action matches that made me excited to try my hand at wood working.

I began by sketching a female figure in forward fold (Jan. 18th), which worked out well as another goal of mine is to do more drawing from my imagination.  Yesterday (Jan. 20th) I began to turn some of these sketches into wood burned tiles after Taylor taught me how to use the tool and refuel it.  I will continue posting new wood burns and sketches here as I create them.

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170118: Circles of Accomplishment

Tharp in The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life says that one way she deals with all of the things she needs to accomplish is to write down everything she wants to achieve in the next few months.  More important goals are written larger in proportion to their import.  She also tries to estimate how much time needs to be dedicated to the task and how they may fit in relation to other things that need to be done.  Today my prompt comes from p. 178 of her book.

I found my goals in creativity at this point have not yet demanded to outweigh each other.  Maybe we are a team and everyone will get a turn, or perhaps some will come to the forefront as things progress.  For now, I am content with this exercise for providing me a reference point where I can jot down new ideas I may have or look for inspiration when I don’t know what I might want to do next.  I was hoping that might be the case, which is why I wanted to do this exercise toward the start of the trial.  I included the Accomplishment guide (which is all I can call it, since I haven’t really done the circles part) as the image for this post, but I will share a few things I have written down there. I found that I also wrote down things I want to accomplish that aren’t creative, but I made their own section on the page and won’t work on them during creative time.  But I figure, why not apply the idea to my life as widely as it may be effective.

Complete Active Practice Game- requires brainstorming (four activities), sketching, woodburning- on 8 tiles.

Creative Blog Posts- requires imagining ideas, writing, and some photography

Yoga and Dancing Sessions- video, clear space, maybe music, maybe set up Patreon

Spontaneous Creative Cooking- food items, kitchen, also applies to Dry Cabin Living

Jewelry Project- if access to studio

Drawing- observation, imaginative, and from photo

Photoshop- try to make Gator Grad Tee design if can do by deadline, check deadline

Art EDU Blog- Write blog posts and use pictures from traveling to share arts from around the world at arteducationation.blogspot.com

I may add more to this list, but at least it’s a starting point

17/01/29 Also starting to do jewelry work at home, what I can do with wire wrapping.






Mind Wander

this is not about meditation and clearing your mind, but rather the idea of being aware and inviting the ideas in your mind to surface

As Tharp says, this is not about meditation and clearing your mind, but rather the idea of being aware and inviting the ideas in your mind to surface and be acknowledged. This is one exercise that Tharp proposes one try using duration, increasing the length of trial each time.  I will be starting with one minute and increasing by 2 minutes each week of the study. I will keep posting results on this one post.  Eventually the early trials will be at the bottom and most recent trials directly under this introduction. This exercise also fits well with a great book I recently read called Teach, Breathe, Learn by Meena Srinivasan. It is a wonderful resource for teachers to bring social and personal skill development to the classroom.

Nine Minute Trials


Minds, they go so many directions so quickly.  Makes me want to study what it is that gets us to follow through on a line of thought to resulting action.  Is it previous reward triggers?  Subbing a lot in SPED where there is much talk of Stiming or Stimulating behaviors it makes me feel we must all be SPED.  Everyone seems to do things that they believe will bring them pleasure. But if that’s true, how do people find new adventures?  The SPED students that I see replay and replay a small portion of video clip they like… makes me wonder how to they find new video clips to attach to?  There must be something to trigger variety that is different than what triggers soothing.  Is it that we get propelled into new things when we go along with a friend to places they like or do what they enjoy?  What about when we do something on our own that we just have some unknown internal push to try.  Like when I decided to go study in Scotland or Panama?  It’s confusing how there are so many variables to any one action.  I may be thinking about reading, checking my stocks, or writing my mind wander.  Then I quick check my stocks because I think it could distract me from my mind wander.  I set aside my desire to read because I’ve already read quite a bit today and I start my mind wander because I know I need to do this.

It’s hard to believe I’ve already been in a creative habit for over a month now.  It seems to be going along surprisingly smoothly.  More smoothly than I would have expected, but I’m still probably not accomplishing as much as I would like to.  I’m trying though to not be too hard on myself because I heard a teacher of the year of Alaska speak once and she said she just tries to add one new thing at a time and once she feels she gets that one new thing into her flow of life, then she starts on a new one.  That seems reasonable.  Here I am trying to do research, blog and be creative in a number of avenues and thread it all into my existing life which had none of these factors much recently.  So I have to acknowledge I’m probably making more progress than in apparent to me on the surface.  This blog itself is a thing I should probably be proud of.  Done at 8:33pm time to do my 10 yr journal for 10 Min as my trigger.

**Realization that the self initiated triggers I picked for this trial are things that I mostly already do that give me a sense of accomplishment or enjoyment.  Maybe a good opening task for anyone who wants to be more creative is to start with a small 10 min thing that helps put them in a positive mind state or helps them feel they are on the right track/ accomplishing already in a short time so they feel they can accomplish more. Because just now I thought, uh, i don’t really feel like journaling, and I heard myself tell myself that I’d already accomplished much by posting, and posting, and doing this, so surely I could just do a little more.


don’t fart around.. well fart around sometimes if you need a brain break, but always stay aware that your time can be valuable if you let it.  YOLO is true.  Make it count.  I am finding that if I start the endeavor right when I think of it…do the blog post, dance, make the cake… whatever it is, it gets done that much sooner and propels me onto the next stage.  But the more aimlessly I wander the more I branch off on another wander and quickly two hours are gone and I haven’t done what I set out to do.  Sometimes wandering is valuable, maybe I updated my goodreads list that I haven’t attended to for quite some time or stumbled onto some great reading list that will inspire me in the future.  And in that way it’s good to do what you feel at the time. But it should always be with awareness.  Awareness of time… maybe, awareness of life as a gift you are using in the present, always.  I am finding that this study by making me more aware of time by virtue of self-study has helped me to try to utilize it more effectively more often.  I am planning ahead with my boyfriend designing little adventures for ourselves.  Partly because we need breaks to look forward to, but these things might actually happen less often if we had more time available.  I want to be more structured with my life even in the times I don’t have to be so that I make my time and efforts count.  Luckily I am already a non-TV owner, and am not a big movie goer.  Maybe I should analyze more things in my life that are not adding value and that I can actively work to decrease.  Goals and lists help me to be more effective too.  Wunderlist has been a great tool and I’m so grateful to Taylor for his suggestion on that.  Right now I’m thankful to Ms. O’Connor for teaching us the non-stop writing technique so that we keep going and contributing even when we feel we don’t have a thing to say, because just writing that you have no thoughts will lead to another thought, just don’t let the pen stop..  So maybe the larger idea is don’t drop the ball, just keep bouncing along and you are bound to come up with something worthwhile eventually.


Seven minute trials

Recent Realizations of Things that help me be creative:

Being aware of Time- starting to feel like I’m using time more effectively because of this awareness

Getting my basic needs out of the way: noticing that before starting to be creative I’m more settled if I have eaten, have water at hand, clean up around/ prepare space, use the restroom

Having my documentation tools at hand: Pro camera & notebook

Not having more than one notebook, so everything gets recorded in the same place

Having a good system for archiving

Having an outlet point for various types of creative endeavors

Awareness of moments in everyday life that I am already being creative, helps me realize I’m more creative than my self image had been.

(moment of pause w/ 2 min remain)

Taking notes/ the process of self study itself is helping me see patterns of triggers/ timing and ideas to note or come back to.

Having an audience increases accountability and helps me set goals or want to continue

Having digital storage space available

Five minute trials

170201 Thoughts

Having just read a bit of Make it Mighty Ugly, it was a light bulb hearing her say that she never knew she was a writer, but discovering that fact, (I’m not sure quite how she discovered it), changed her life.  Last night I shared a bit of my poetry online.  I’ve never really shared any of it before.  BUt it got positive responses, and I told my boyfriend and he said yea, your poetry is very good.  And I was surprised.  Maybe I will share more, maybe I will try to write more.  Although poetry really seems like a thing for me that sneaks up and grabs me, asks to be written.  I never know what is on my mind until it unfurls itself on the paper, and I read it back to myself and say “Oh, yes, I guess I do feel that way”  I know everyone works differently, but for me it’s amazing how little I know about myself until I start talking to someone else, or writing or making art.  I often learn and see things about myself I didn’t know were already there, just waiting to rise to consciousness.  It’s a little scary in a way to think I may not know myself well.  BUt then rather reassuring to realize it is reachable, I just need to be open and giving time to it’s development. 

These mind wanders are starting to get easier, I’m starting to make them part of what I look forward to, maybe that’s a key to making a habit, doing something enough that you start to enjoy it enough that it triggers your brain to follow through when you consider doing it.

170131 Thoughts

excited to think up ideas for this teaching tips course I may teach at the Folk School, interesting and different kind of class than I’ve ever given.

Glad mom and dad are enjoying their Hawaii months, think they are really happy there and should go back again, but change is good too.

6:30 is too early to wake up still.  guess I’m not that old, or waking earlier may be appealing

I like this subbing deal.  Working just days I choose is great, also gives me the flexibility to take on other work or teach more at the Folk School.

I wonder where we will live after August. 

Need to think of an alternative sleeping pad option for the angel creek overnight ski trip

Being productive feels good, also sort of exhausting.  I think research and learning time as well as editing time need to be considered when framing out creative time in one’s life.  Access to materials immediately also make a big difference.  All my paints are down in Delta, so I haven’t painted at all and won’t til I get down there Feb. 24th.

170129 Thoughts

It’s important to listen to what comes naturally.  Sometimes I get that tick, little trigger when I know I’m doing something that’s no good for me.  Hawaii was great for flow.  Being peaceful and relaxed really helps me to be aware in the moment, and create more by fun feel than by force or what I think I should do.  It’s been hard not being hard on myself if I miss a day of mind wander, which I did a lot last week, and just realize that is then, this is now and I can start anew everyday.  There is no point to past regret- wasted time.  It’s great having written ideas down, now I have a source point when I want to start a new creative venture.  Started jewelry-making again on Thursday I think.  It’s been a while, feels nice to be looking at materials again.  I need to really dig through them to get inspired about how to combine.  Sometimes I put so much time in and just don’t like it, but that’s ok too.  As Edison said, you also learn from the failures.

Three minute trials

170125 Thoughts

Should find a place to post my photography, after week two need to spend time b4 week three making space on my hard drive.  Excited to work with the Fairbanks Folk School, they seem like great people.  Check with Doug about which type of clay and quantity to order.  Can Toni do a earth fire w/ kids if she’s aiding?  Need to improve the layout still and understand how pages works on Word Press, need a blank page or just network to outside links?  Ask T.  Look through photos to consider to start an image based painting- need to buy more canvas, want to make a printmaking screen too.

One minute trials

170121 Thoughts


awareness in a way can lengthen time

of all things what would I want to do before leaving the earth. happiness, joy just spread it

170120 (Missed this day)

170119- Thoughts

Tired, time is hard to keep when starting creative process- don’t naturally think of time as I start

sink dripping, funny thing for a dry cabin

170118- Thoughts

Eyes closed,

visualize counter clockwise swirl,

then within that a clockwise swirl

listen to the fan of the heater -comfortable sound

think of my phone

realize it is hard remembering all my thoughts when not writing simultaneously like last time, will probably record in moment next time.

170117  –Thoughts

-9 may be too late

-want to revive my drawing skills

-want to work on Grad Gator entry

-want to make mind map of ideas to pursue during this study