So often we fail to notice the interesting, potentially inspiring, or beautiful, things around us. We’re busy, tired, distracted. Hardwired to notice threat, we’re more likely to attend to the things that could go wrong, than to appreciate the musical quality of the wind, or an unusual shade of green.
Except when we train ourselves to do otherwise, as artists of all types do.
“But, I’m not artistic!”, at least some of you protest. To which I would suggest you might broaden your definition of art. To make art where you find it.
Have you ever read a sentence that made your toes curl with understanding, so moved you copied and posted it so you’d see it again? Shared a photo of a sunset? Picked and dried a wildflower that reminded you of a trip to the mountains? Kept a rock you found on the seashore and set it on your windowsill, next to the others you couldn’t leave behind?
I could go on. The point is to recognize your role in creating your experience, to look closely beyond the familiar, the easily unnoticed. To discover whether your artful witness can spark joy, no Marie Kondo style tidying up required!
If you’re anything like me, it’s easiest to see the world anew while on vacation. Away from our daily lives, beverage in hand perhaps, we almost certainly seek the sunset, smell the flowers, breathe the mountain air, or appreciate the angles of a city skyline. It doesn’t really matter where we go, our senses are heightened because we’re in new territory.
Is it possible to bring that vacation mindset – a more actively creative way of being, I’d argue – to our workaday lives? It’s challenging for sure!
But I’ve discovered a secret. One you’ve probably guessed by now. That is: to make art where I find it.
In essence, that means I appreciate the things I might not otherwise, whether or not I’m on vacation. I free myself from the tight reins of expectations and re-create the familiar in new ways. It only takes an extra second to look anew, which can indeed be spared between the loads of laundry, work emails, health worries, family drama, and many other things that hijack my attention. Even so, like anything that is not already habitual, a deliberate practice must be cultivated for this to occur.
Do you need an example?
The title image is my most recent example. If you know me as a painter, you might have understandably assumed the photo is of a new painting, albeit an unusual one. But you’d be wrong. Here it is again:
The image is actually an unaltered photograph of the cover of my travel paint set, random remnants of dried pigment, from which I ‘made art‘ by my notice.
You don’t believe me? Here’s the un-cropped proof:
The act of creating – anything – is a balm against the many stressors and destructive energy around us. You know this on some level already. I’m only offering a reminder, and an expanded definition of art-making for your consideration.
How will you make art where you find it today?
Maybe you’ll fold the dinner napkins in a unique way. Make designs in the kids’ bubble bath. Use your phone camera to take a picture of melting snow patterns, or ANYTHING. Try a new recipe and present it with a carved garnish. Write a poem inspired by a new look at a familiar object. Buy a plant or plant some seeds. You get the idea!
No one else needs to call you an artist for you to be one.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, for you to share your examples of art-making, in or outside the traditional boxes. Let’s celebrate making art where we find it, together! #makeartwhereyoufindit
*I was inspired to change the original title of this post – #makeartwhereyoufindit – in no small part due to the acerbic wit of Paul Sunstone, who reblogged the post and (somewhat harshly) called attention to the lackluster title. Check out his entertaining celebration and critique of my post here. To be clear, I didn’t change the title to please him. Rather, I was intrigued by his feedback and curious enough to explore how a change in title might influence potential readers. To me at least, this is just another example of allowing oneself to see things anew, to make art from whatever and wherever it can be found, including constructive criticism.