The Simplest Things
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
At the Nature Spells Book Retreat last week, one of the things we discussed was the power of making space for the simplest things. We think our ideas need to be grand, or complicated, in order to be good enough. But it’s not true.
I think we don’t take the simplest ideas, marks, and themes seriously. We let these ideas fall by the wayside and bemoan the fact that we don’t feel “inspired.” The universe is handing us creative gold, we just can’t see it.
These ideas pop up in the middle of a walk, talking to your partner, or while boiling water for pasta. They are ideas you can explore in short moments in your journal, and on small bits of paper. Unlike some of the grander ideas, the simplest ideas bend and turn to fit into the in between moments of our lives.
The simplest ideas are ideas you can develop in the time you have, instead of the time you wish you had. Instead of waiting for a day when you have an hour, two, or three to spare, what if you indulged those ideas in the moment? At the end of the day, you may find it’s hard to resist spending another 10 or 15 minutes to see what emerges. And often, these 10 or 15 minutes will turn into 30 or 45, and you’ll realize the things you thought couldn’t wait for you to make a bit of art, can.
The simplest things give us permission to focus on our art practice, to make it a priority. They give us a non-threatening starting point. They stave off creative block, excuses, and keep us in the flow of making.
What would happen if you indulged the ideas you deemed too simple? Made space, not for what you think belongs, but what belongs in you?
Let the simple ideas speak. Let the white space speak. See what treasures lurk when you just do the simplest things.
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5 Simple Art Prompts
- Brainstorm a list of 15 simple ideas, no matter how silly, even if they don’t seem good enough in some way. Do this every day for a week without repeating your ideas. Don’t worry about whether or not they are good enough, or realistic, just start listing your simple art ideas. The practice of writing your simple ideas down will help you pay attention when they bubble up from the imagination.
- Make a simplest thing journal. On each page, give yourself permission to do the simplest thing, whatever that means, even if it’s a dot. Do this every day for 14 days, a month, or a year. See what transforms for you.
- Give yourself an assignment for a week of “wasting” paper on a simple idea. Spend 10 minutes a day. Your only goal is to practice creating with the simplest ideas.
- Allow the white of the page to play a starring role in your work. Work small in a big space. Play with placing your object in a corner, the center, or on top. See what the empty space has to say. Journal about it, and see how that influences the next simple page you make.
- Collage your simple ideas. Draw on loose bits of drawing paper, and keep them in an open box or bowl on your desk. When you build up a small cache, collage with your simple drawings. You may find that layered together they are more than the sum of their parts. (My work in this post is an example.)
How do the simplest ideas work for you? Tell me about it in the comments.