Judging time spent being creative

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

That critical voice that pops up while you start making art can derail you completely listen to it. It might start asking questions that make you doubt if you should continue to make art. Or it might say your art is bad so what’s the point? We’ve somehow learnt that to be constantly productive somehow equals ‘success’ and that we shouldn’t spend time on frivolous activities.

Success isn’t necessarily being productive. It could be enjoying your free time and having a creative hobby that doesn’t require you to be an expert. If the voice asks why bother unless the art has ‘value’ to the outside world, reply, “I don’t need to be a master at this, I want to relax and enjoy my free time and this is one way to do that.” By addressing the judgmental thought, you loosen yourself from its grip. The more you practice answering it back, the quicker it will leave so you can get back the enjoyment of being creativity. John F. Simon Jr in Drawing Your Own Path explains “As beginners, we hesitate to take up the pencil because we doubt our ability to render realistically. As we gain experience by drawing more difficult and time-consuming subjects, we doubt our commitment. Control of the pencil only sensitizes our eyes to details we haven’t mastered and how much more there is to accomplish. More demons emerge. What am I doing these drawings for? Can I justify the time I’m spending on art? … the ephemeral but paralyzing fog called “social convention” floating above the studio, casting a cloud on our process when we ask, “What will others think of this? What kind of person spends all day drawing? What value does art have anyway?” If the hero wants to continue to create, these demon must be defeated.”

The kind of person who decides to spend time drawing or making art is a brave and wise person. Because it is wise indeed to spend time on the things you enjoy doing, purely for the joy of experiencing them. No productivity is required.

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”– John Lennon

Noting as a mark making meditation

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Can drawing be used as a tool for meditation? While making art for fun is as worthy a reason to get creative, so is slowing down and taking a moment to connect to the present moment. Meditation is a way to do this (as well as through a variety of mindfulness and gratitude practices), but is it possible to combine making art/marks and meditation into one process?

John F. Simon Jr. in Drawing Your Own Path explains how a “marking practice”—regularly making marks on paper—is more important than media choices and describes “noting,” a style of “Insight Meditation”: “When I engage in noting, I try to pay close attention to the stream of mental phenomena rising into my conscious awareness, isolating every sensation that I smell, hear, taste, touch, see, or think. The “noting” part is when I identify each phenomenon to myself.”

This mark making practice grounds us in the present moment by focusing attention on immediate surroundings. In this way, noting could be described as a form of mediation, one where a pencil and paper help visualise an experience of a moment. Simon describes how to do noting: “… instead of identifying the sensation with a word in your mind, let the pencil in your hand make a mark on the page. The mark should be completely random and no two marks need be the same.”

Let your pencil go for a walk with the mind and record an experience of a present moment to create a connection to your inner world. Reflecting via the process of noting allows a moment of contemplation amidst the noises, smells and experiences currently around us, a moment that could be a welcome pause in the constant momentum of daily life.