Flit and flutter about playfully

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Picture a butterfly flying around. It can move with seemingly little purpose, flitting about with no clear straight direction and floating on the air as it moves from place to place. Picture two butterflies interacting with one another in a playful dance. Spotting these moment in real life can be mesmerising because they revealing an intimate moment from a normally hidden world.

We can be more like the butterfly in our approach to making art, helping us open up to more joy by letting go of the regular (thought) constraints we put on ourselves. Instead of moving from art piece to art piece seriously thinking about where we’re headed, we could flit and flutter about playfully. We could choose to move with a different, lighter attitude, one that releases heavy thoughts around the value or quality of what we make. Letting go of the burden of our art needing to look a certain way encourages us to continue making in a more playful way.

Float on the air, let go of needing to know where you’re “supposed” to be headed and see where the wind takes you.

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A no purpose, no goals approach to making art

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Could you let go of your expectations to get better, make progress, find a ‘distinct style’ or produce anything ‘interesting’ when making art?

In Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mindhe explains a Zen Buddhist approach “We can say either that we make progress little by little, or that we do not even expect to make progress. Just to be sincere and make our full effort in each moment is enough. There is no Nirvana outside our practice.” And In our practice we have no particular purpose or goal.”

When making art, there is a strong desire to get better and gain more confidence so we feel we’re progressing through some (imaginary) process of evolution. This is what we’ve been taught from a young age – to focus on getting a higher grade so we can get our pat on the back and seal of approval from others. But what if we took a page out of Zen Buddhism and let go of the goal to get a metaphorical better grade?

“You may think that if there is no purpose or no goal in our practice, we will not know what to do. But there is a way. The way to practice without having any goal is to limit your activity, or to be concentrated on what you are doing in this moment… When your mind is wandering about elsewhere you have no chance to express yourself. But if you limit your activity to what you can do just now, in this moment, then you can express fully your true nature, which is the universal Buddha nature.” – Shunryu Suzuki

A goal-less approach may not please your ego, but your mind will benefit from the release of expectation you’ve put upon yourself.

“… we just concentrate on the activity which we do in each moment. When you bow, you should just bow, when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat. If you do this, the universal nature is there. In Japanese we call it ichigyo-zammai, or “one-act samadhi.” Sammai is “concentration.” Ichigyo is “one practice.” – Shunryu Suzuki

By adopting a ‘concentrated-one-practice’ approach, you become fully present in the moment. Focusing on the action of practicing with no expectations about the outcome allows you to “express your true nature.” This ultimately leads to connecting to yourself on a deeper level.

How freeing to tap into an unpressured, unperfect, slow and small art-making practice where your only focus is just to make art.