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.

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.

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


170117: Creative Autobiography

One I considered a success because of the attention it warranted from others. The other I consider a success because of the internal feeling of elation/ concentration/ balance I felt…

Day One 170117 9:44pm

Prompt: p. 45 of Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Tharp poses the questions below, I just took them one at a time and tried to be as honest in the moment as I could. I found the question about habits and routines to be the most challenging to self identify, I needed someone close to me to to help.

Creative Autobiography of Lara Fahnlander

What is the first creative moment you remember?

I guess fort building with my mom in the back yard. I thought it was such fun to make an entirely new space in our ordinary backyard. Realizing that the shelter could be made in different places and turn out differently because of our choices.

Was anyone there to witness or appreciate?

Yes, my mom.

What is the best idea you’ve ever had?

I guess deciding to be a good person everyday and help contribute to good feelings in the world.

What made it great in your mind?

Because it can influence everything else that happens in relation to me.

What is the dumbest idea?

To listen to someone else’s idea of what I should do with my life

What made it stupid?

Trusting someone else to know better than my own heart.

Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?

Being young and unsure of the realities of what I might need to know or do to survive and thrive as a grown person.

What is your creative ambition?

To share the gifts that only I can contribute to the world. I want to unleash my pure creative self from inhibitions and the priorities of others and society.

What are the obstacles to this ambition?

Some obstacles are

time in relation to the needs that relationships and daily life seem to require

not being focused and clearly directed in my pursuits at all times

technology woes, energy levels, materials, location in various combinations or succession

What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?

Carving time for this priority, keeping it in the forefront, getting digitally organized, creating a creative habit?

How do you begin your day?

I am not a very ritualistic person. The main consistent things are that I wake up fairly easily and happily and I always brush my teeth and run my fingers through my hair as a comb.

What are you habits? What patterns do you repeat?

Interesting question to ponder… Right now I try to always put my keys in the same place. I brush my teeth morning and night. I will have to discuss this question further with my boyfriend.

Describe your first successful creative act.

While in grade school I took an after school watercolor class. We had a show at the end of the course. A friend of my mom’s offered to buy one of my paintings. I turned her down.

Describe your second successful act.

Actually before the other, I would build block towers of varying shape, but only one block wide that were taller than me. I’m not sure if this is considered creative.

Compare them.

One I consider a success because of the attention it warranted from others. The other I consider a success because of the internal feeling of elation/concentration/balance I felt as I was able to build taller and taller.

10:12pm- converse with Taylor.

My boyfriend concurs I have few routines, but adds: I look in the mirror before leaving the house, usually put on earrings and necklace

Some habits: straighten my eyebrows without thinking, check my phone for time in the morning upon waking

Throughout year, but non-daily habit: keep track in my 10 yr. journal.


Venison & Ginger Quiche Recipe

I realized I never would have combined these ingredients if I’d gone to the store. I also felt appreciative I could make something nice with the apples we were given this fall by a neighbor, and venison meat from my parents, and leftover ginger scraps others may have thrown away.

Since it looks like it may be a bit before I can begin my actual formal study, I’ve decided to look at what I can do to prepare.  I want to begin to notice natural moments of creativity that already occur in my life, that may otherwise go unnoticed.  I realized I have already done something creative today, but I didn’t acknowledge it until I began thinking about what to write.

I wanted to make a quiche, I love quiche.  I wanted to go to the store and buy some broccoli for the quiche, simply because I thought of it.  But two thoughts I encountered last night prevented my trip to the store.  (Spoiler)

Reviewing for my study, last night I reread parts of Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It for Life. In short this woman is amazing, and I will be using her book to guide the first half of my formal study of how to develop a creative habit.  But one thing I read last night on page 161 stuck with me.  It said, when she asks an audience to give 60 new purposes to a common object the first third are obvious, the second third are more interesting and the last third are usually the most insightful and complex.

Last night I also finished watching The Minimalists. This movement has been building interest for years, but I like a good reminder that I need to be very conscious about my buying.  Do I really need broccoli?  Do I have a perfectly good alternative in the fridge, that might also qualify for the latter half of Tharp’s object uses list?  Turns out, I did.

I also realized that something I was doing for the purpose of eating does not negate it’s creative qualities.  These are all important realizations for me on the road to a creative habit.  Working with what you have can often forge creativity in an otherwise commonplace activity.  So in the end, here’s a new recipe for quiche… maybe someone in the world has already made it? Another good question.  Is it still creative even if it may have once existed somewhere in the world?

But seriously, here’s the quiche recipe:

On stove top med heat: 1T butter, Lg sweet onion diced, 1C diced apples, 3T ginger diced (mine was candied… left over from making a ginger simple syrup) 1/4 lb ground venison

In bowl: 5 eggs beaten, 1/4t each salt and pepper, shredded cheese- I did one Cup each of Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Goat cheese

Pouring softened saucepan items into bowl to mix and add 1C sauerkraut.

Bake 30 min @ 350… I do mine in muffin trays just to be easier to take to work.

I realized I never would have combined these ingredients if I’d gone to the store.  I also felt appreciative I could make something nice with the apples we were given this fall by a neighbor, and venison meat from my parents, and leftover ginger scraps others may have thrown away.