Back in March, artist and educator Brigid Collins came in to do a project with our second year students. The project involved approaching drawing and the creative process from a new angle.
The creative process is an ecology that depends upon the full spectrum of our resources – Shaun Mc Niff
Trust The Process (Shambhala, 1998)
Habits allow us to not think about what we’re doing . . . giving us the illusion of ease. When we are under the illusion of ease, not thinking about what we’re doing. Breathing the same old way, moving the same old way, thinking the same old way we check out of the present, out of happiness itself – Alex Levin
Thoughts are simply habits. We all have the potential to draw our way to new, more positive habits of mind and being and make connections with our creative selves. Part of connecting with your self is connecting with the world around you.
During these days of ‘serious play’, we each explored our unique individual creative ecology – how we, as individuals, become inspired to create – by engaging in activities that led us to focus on our
We began in a seated position, listening to our own breathing, beginning to focus on finding space inside ourselves – allowing a deepening of our creativity through a process of self-enquiry and moving towards greater self-acceptance – and accessing the creative and emotional energy that lies ‘hidden’ in the layers of the body. By cultivating a sense of curiosity towards what we found, we saw how we could become more willing to befriend what lies, all too often unknown to us, within ourselves…
We then stretched and freed our joints (‘Pawanmuktasana’*), pausing to gather a ‘word hoard’, or personal collection of words/phrases that came to us as/when we began to travel inside our own being.
We then went on to use the practice of drawing as a starting point for exploring creativity – working in pairs and alone, making ‘blind’ drawings by using both our orthodox and our unorthodox hand – this very surprising process helping us to begin to establish an embodied listening post, or place, for
our experience, from moment to moment.
We next met and, after a body/breath awareness meditation and setting of individual intentions (‘Sankalpha*’), we made wire sculptures – drawings in space – of our model’s head, as a way of freeing-up our drawing and an exercise in looking by paying close attention. We followed this by stepping outside – into a brisk but bright Edinburgh morning – using our senses to engage with the moment and write simple haiku poems in response to our experience. We later constructed book forms, using wire, glassine paper envelopes and thread, to act as containers for our ‘word-hoards’ and haiku and within which the words have emerged from the process could be placed, to provide us with what could be seen as ‘shrines’ to our individual creative ecologies.
Our last session together began with a body/breath awareness meditation and simple movement, leading us into a series of drawings – using graphite and charcoal – made in response to different aspects of our own breathing, while using both our orthodox and unorthodox (or dominant and non-dominant) hand.
By taking shelter – by being inside the world of our own experience, in our bodies, rather than outside our selves, in the world of ideas – by working from the inside out, we moved towards accepting things as they are, rather than willing them to be otherwise. In this way, we learned that our thoughts and our experiences do not define us – rather they can provide us with a place from which the scope of our creative expression may be allowed to expand. The intention is that the tools introduced during this short ‘project’ can then help us to actively experiment with ways of moving between the different “worlds” that are encapsulated in the various roles that we play in life and encourage us to toy with the possibility of moving between our ways of being-in-the-world with an increased sense of flexibility and ease.
This has been a wonderful process, full of surprises and lightness, due to the letting-go of expectations and of pressure to ‘succeed’, especially in terms of measurable outcomes. The students engaged in this with willingness, open-mindedness and exuberance that made it a very special experience – thank you all!
[* These are words in Sanskrit, from the yogic tradition]