How to draw with your mouth

 

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection
Using two colours, repeating a flower shape

Trying a completely foreign way to making art allows us to step away from convention and embrace a new messy way to making art. Switching from your usual way to make marks – i.e. using your dominant hand – to a unorthodox approach forces you to be uncomfortable because you loose control technically. But this is a wonderful thing for your creativity. As Mary Lou Cook encourages,  “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.”

You will need: paper and a pen, ideally one that doesn’t require you to use much  pressure. Felt tips work better than a biro.

  1. Hold paper in place with your hands either on a flat surface or against a wall
  2. Clean drawing tool and place in your mouth
  3. Make marks
  4. Clean drawing tool when finished
The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection
Repeating the same wavy line

Ideas to try:

  • Experiment using more colours
  • Hold your head steady and move the paper instead
  • Use a paintbrush and paint

It’s going to feel very strange at first, especially if you’ve never tried drawing with your mouth. Be careful you don’t push too hard to avoid injury. This unusual way of making marks forces you to make messy, imperfect marks and the quicker you accept your lack of control, the more you can enjoy the process. The artist Alberto Gioacometti describes drawing the unknown “When I make my drawings… the path traced by my pencil on the sheet of paper is, to some extent, analogous to the gesture of a man groping his way in the darkness.” Loosing control and experimenting in the unknown is a wonderful tool to help unleash your creativity.

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection
Repeating the same flower to create a pattern

“It’s when I draw conclusions, that they end up looking like a bunch of jumbled squiggles on a piece of paper.” – Anthony T. Hincks

How to collage images

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Collage is easy and fun process to make art out of existing art. While this experiment focuses on using just images, you can also collage with paper and typography. By using preexisting images, you don’t have to worry about drawing anything from scratch. If you are a beginner and worry about your art being messy or imperfect (which are vital aspects of art-making), this might offer you the freedom you need to get started creatively. Rod Judkins in Figurative Painting with Collage quotes Nita Leland: “Collage is like a hall of mirrors. Every direction you look, you see something different and visually stimulating.”

You will need: photographs or images from magazines, books or any paper source. Scissors or scalpel knife. Optional glue or sticky tape and a tray to put things on or work from.

  1. Cut out images that catch you eye. Don’t overthink: cut out and create a pile.
  2. From your pile, pick images and start arranging. Play around with different combinations without thinking of a final look.
  3. If you like a combination, take a photo or fix it in place with glue or tape.
  4. Optional: Set a timer for 2 minutes to force quicker decision making so once the time is up, the work becomes finished by default.

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connectionIdeas for further experiments:

  • Cut out words or letters to add to the images.
  • Draw over or around images to add details.
  • Take photos of selected images to create digital versions and play around with layouts on the computer.

Have a jar/box/folder/somewhere to keep all the images you cut out as anything unused can be used at a later date. Sometimes you might spend your time cutting images and other times you may spend your time arranging. Having an image bank to draw from allows you to get creating much quicker in the future.

The artist Max Ernst in Max Ernst believed “Collage is the noble conquest of the irrational, the coupling of two realities, irreconcilable in appearance, upon a plane which apparently does not suit them.” Collage quickly allows you to bring together unexpected images and arrange them however you like. The process is one of trial and error but also very ‘low-risk’ because you don’t have fix anything in place. Because there are so many strange and different possibilities with collage, you’re only limited by your imagination.

“The only way to be creative over time – to not be undone by our expertise – is to experiment with ignorance, to stare at things we don’t fully understand.” – Jonah Lehrer

Quick art and frequent writing

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

In an interview with the contemporary visual artist George Condo, he remarked “I don’t see why it takes so long to make drawings.” He draws a large-scale drawing with oil stick on camera and the whole process take 16 minutes. It appears to be a very quick, dynamic and instinctive method of drawing. He explains “I kind of draw like you’re walking through the forest, y’know. You don’t really know where you’re going and you just start from some point and randomly travel through the paper until you get to a place where you finally reach your destination.”

The idea of making art quickly is echoed in an question on Seth Godin’s ‘Origin Stories’ podcast episode.: “What should teachers be focusing on to help young people write their best? Godin answered “… the problem is the word ‘better’, because when they seek to do ‘better’ writing, they’re focusing on… complying, on pleasing an anonymous reader or a teacher.” Instead, “… get kids to write. Get kids to do lousy writing, Get kids to do frequent writing, emotional writing, superfluous writing, useless writing, writing, writing, writing. That if they write often, then the fear of writing has to do away.”

Do more writing, do more drawings, make art quickly and often and don’t pay attention to the quality of what you make. Down the road, a bi-product of this practice will be ‘better’ technical skills. To focus on getting ‘better’ when you’re a beginner, is a way to stall yourself before you’ve had a change to get any momentum going.

Dream it and then go make art

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Is there anything you can take from your dreams to spark an idea, piece or project? The beginning plot for a story or poem? Could you make a poem about what happened? Or draw a cartoon of a scene, draw a picture or use shapes and colours to represent what you experienced? Vincent Van Gogh’s famous quote “I dream my painting and I paint my dream,” speaks of the possible relationship between dreams and art-making. Mark Chagall advice to David Cethlahe Paladin was “Listen to the story, dream it, and paint the dream”

Does anything spark your curiosity? If you dream of birds – go find a book on birds and flick through it, watch for them in real life or doodle wings. Notice patterns and reoccurring themes. There’s a whole world of dream analysis but for this purpose, see you dream as a movie you directed and mine it for inspiration. What would the poster for your dream movie look like? What category of film is it? What are the main themes?

Your dreams can hold a lot of information if you can remember them. Keep a notepad within reaching distance from bed so you can note down any details immediately when you wake. It’s more likely you’ll remember them then compared to later in the day.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

How to collage typography

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection
Finished rearrangement of the original below

If a white piece of paper blinds you with too many possibilities, starting with another piece of art and editing that can get you straight into the art-making process. Creating instant restrictions creates less resistance to getting started because there’s less choice on offer. Austin Kleon in The Steal Like An Artist Journal encourages us “If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.” By mixing up existing art into something new, you’re creating your own art and experimenting with what you like visually.

You will need: Text (or images) to cut up. Pencil and ruler if you want to be really accurate. Scissors or scalpel to cut. Glue if you want to fix permanently in place.

  1. Divide your chosen text into squares of equal sizes and cut out
  2. Optional: Use pencil and ruler on the back if you don’t want to do it by eye
  3. Rearrange the squares into a new arrangement
  4. Optional: fix in place with glue
The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection
Left: original printed typography found in a magazine. Right: image cut into equal squares, ready for rearrangement

Why not try cutting different size shapes and then fit things together like an abstract jigsaw puzzle. Play around creating more irregular shapes and arrangements that aren’t so neat and square. Cecil Touchon uses a similar process to create his Typography Abstraction art and so ‘frees the letters from their burden of being bearers of meaning.’

Seeing something arranged differently and changing your perspective will feed back into other areas of your life in a positive way. In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Creativity, he says “Good scientists, like good artists, must let their minds roam playfully or they will not discover new facts, new patterns, new relationships.” By allowing yourself to playfully create new patterns using what exists around, you opens yourself up to other unknown possibilities.

Look what’s already laying around your home that you can cut up and rearrange and go have a play.

 “…nothing is completely original. All creative work builds on what came before.  Every new idea is just a remix or a mashup of one or two previous ideas.”Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist

How to mine your daily life for snippets

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Snippets are different from quotes. They are a words or small sentences that peak your curiosity. Words can be collected from everyday life in the form of signs, shops, windows, labels, graffiti and posters or from art such as books, magazines, websites, audio, tv, movies and online. Anything you see or hear. Coleman Barks said “When I was twelve years old, I kept a little notebook of words that I loved: azalea, halcyon, jejune. I just liked the taste of them… I just love lively language wherever it occurs.” Austin Kleon created a journal for creative kleptomaniacs, “This journal is designed to get you looking at your world like an artist, always “casing the joint,” always collecting ideas, always looking for the next bit of inspiration to lift – to turn you into a creative kleptomaniac.”

You will need: a notebook or paper and pen/pencil

  1. Carry a notebook wherever you go
  2. Write down anything you find interesting.

Even conversations can be a source of inspiration, either from people you know or from strangers. Listen gently but not obsessionally. This works best with people walking away from you so that you only hear a tiny piece of their conversation. It’s also less voyeuristic and creepy that way.

“The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You’re there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see – every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties.” Graham Greene.

Any snippet could spark an idea, get you thinking about a project or serve as an abstract journal. For instance if you’re on holiday and overhear something interesting, writing it down could later transport you right back to that moment (add a note of where you were to help retain the memory). Snippet collecting creates more engaged with your surroundings because you notice every day delights that normally may be invisible.

“… crafty way of blending in / Try to make it swaggy. / …trotted out like a prize bull / Tooling around / By crickey / Blithering blowholes!” – various snippets collected June 2018

The biggest rule of collecting snippets? Don’t judge what you find interesting or censor yourself writing it down because who knows what it might spark in the future. Regularly seeing the small may just surprise and delight you in the process.

How to collage

The Sparkle Experiment
Cutting different coloured shapes from origami paper

If you feel terrified at the thought of making art, this is a perfect exercise for you to feel more in control. Danny Gregory in Art Before Breakfast says “Creativity is the act of shaping the mush of the world around us into something – of creating your own order.” You make your own rules. You don’t have to commit to any arrangement so no decision is made in stone. It’s about playing around and seeing what turns up. And because you’re rearranging shapes, you don’t need any creative skills to get started. You can dive right in.

You will need: paper in different colours, photographs, images and text from magazines, books or any paper source. Scissors or scalpel knife. Optional glue or sticky tape and a tray to put things on or work from.

  1. Cut out shapes. Squares, triangles and circles are the easiest to start with.
  2. Cut out images. Don’t overthink it, cut it out and add it to the pile.
  3. From your pile of cut out elements, pick some and start arranging on a piece of paper. Play around with different combinations without thinking of a final look.
  4. If you like a combination, take a photo or fix it in place with glue or tape.
The Sparkle Experiment Collage
Images sourced from the book ‘In Vogue: Six Decades of Fashion,’ published 1975

Feeling overwhelmed with choice?

  • Pick one colour and only elements that match it
  • Only use coloured paper and shapes
  • Only use two colours or two shapes
  • Set a timer for 2 minutes to force quicker decision making so once the time is up, the work becomes finished by default

Have a jar/box/folder/somewhere to keep all the things you cut out in one place so you can revisit them quickly for future collages. It becomes your material for another day. Danielle Krysa in Collage says “Generally the actual making of a collage is a quick process – the groundwork of searching and collecting materials having already been put in place.” She encourages us to get collaging considering that “Collage is cheap and accessible to everyone.”

The more you make, the more you learn what you like and don’t like. Practice brings more decisiveness about knowing when your collage is finished.

Collage 01
Using old photographs to create fun collages

“So how do you create with no map of where you are going?… Creating in this kind of ambiguous territory can present some definitive challenges, but opening yourself up to the unknown can also be invigorating and deeply revealing… It’s such a naturally human tendency to want to plan and plot. However, the more you flex your brave intuitive muscles, the easier letting go becomes.” Flora Bowley, Creative Revolution.