Settling into the muck of the mind

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Allowing yourself to spontaneously create art—without judging as you make—can be a challenge. Ignoring the inner critics, resistance or distracting negative thoughts takes bravery and a commitment to continue making art regardless. Why should you allow yourself to make “bad” or embarrassing art in the face of self-judgement? Lewis Hyde in The Gift quotes Allen Ginsberg, who speaks of spontaneous writing: “Spontaneous writing could be embarrassing… The cure for that is to write things down which you will not publish and which you won’t show people. To write secretly… so you can actually be free to say anything you want.”

Being able to create, without the art needing to be shown to anyone, or it needing to be “good” gives you freedom to explore more fully, perhaps in places you wouldn’t venture if you knew others were watching. Ginsberg again: “… settling down in the muck of your own mind… You really have to make a resolution just to write for yourself…, in the sense of not writing to impress yourself, but just writing what yourself is saying.” While Ginsberg talks of writing, this is relevant for any art medium. You have to make a resolution to make art for yourself so you can explore what wishes to be created within you. The letting go of seeking approval or validation from other people allows you to create for the sake of creating—to make art because you enjoy it.

The muck of your mind may surprise you with what it comes up with. Allow yourself time and space to be curious and go explore in the mud.

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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.