Exercise Your Mind

The following is a series of very simple exercises that were inspired by my recent trip to the Mass Moca.  *The exhibits and artist's names are noted in the parentheses.

The Work Generator
(*Based on a series of charcoal sketches by Robert Wilson, I found myself very attracted to the large groups of smaller drawings.)

Take some charcoal and your journal.  Do 50 thumbnail drawings of abstract forms.  Play with contrast, shape and composition.  Do the drawings very quickly, without thinking about making good work.  Use your fingers to rub the drawings if you feel inclined.  The important thing here is to produce a large number of drawings, you will have several that you respond to in the end.

Slow Down
(*Based on a film by Robert Wilson of a woman going through very basic everyday tasks at a very slow pace.)

Take an everyday task.  Something like ironing, washing dishes, drinking tea, cleaning, sweeping, etc.  Perform this task VERY slowly, at least half speed.

Portable World
(*artist: Nils Norman  piece: Geocruiser Mother Coach 2001
One section of this exhibit displayed a bicycle that pulls a plywood case.  The case houses a small library of books about weather, a solar panel that runs a fax machine, and a portable weather station.)

Take a vessel or a vehicle of some sort and use it as a basis for designing your own portable world.  First decide what you would like to use it for, example:  a day trip to the museum, an overnight camping trip, a day spent collecting found objects .  You might choose to fill a backpack with a sketchbook and watercolours for painting in a field, or you could outfit your bike with a mini library for doing research outdoors.  Maybe you would like to examine wildlife (binoculars, journal, pencils, food).  Include one object that is precious, (a favourite pen, or a collaged box for collecting things.)

Pushing the Comfort Zone
(*inspired by both by the prision cell exhibit and camping in a tent on my trip, I was totally amazed by my ability to function despite being severely sleep deprived and stripped of a regular routine.  I proved to myself that I do not necessarily need all my usual conditions to be met in order to thrive.  Note: Patrons in the gallery were encouraged to enter a prison cell which was entirely made of steel and concrete(no windows).  It was extremely difficult to go more than two feet into the space without wanting to run out.)

Come up with a list of small things you can do to push you out of your comfort zone.  
Get up 1 hour earlier 
Sleep in a different place
Turn off all media (t.v. radio, etc) for one week
Read something completely different (sci fi)
Eat something completely different
Try a new medium to make art with (sculpture)

Inmate Inventiveness
(*artist: Temporary Services and Angelo   piece: Inmate Inventions 2003, A collection of inventions created by men in jail.)

Take the following items:
-toilet paper
-toothpaste box
-ballpoint pen
-masking tape
-chip bag

Use them to create an invention or a piece of art.

One Object
(*Based on a piece by Robert Wison  A series of very basic chairs made with different materials. )

Choose an everyday object.  Recreate the object using several different mediums.  Explore different techniques.  (I'd like to try a little house)  Start by drawing several sketches of the object.

Keri Smith is a free-lance illustrator and native of Toronto.  A graduate of  O.C.A. she has a wide following of clients in North America and Japan.  She currently resides in a “magic” cottage in Flesherton, painting, illustrating, creating, writing, and living out loud.  Her new book "Living Out Loud -an activity book to fuel a creative life" is now available from Chronicle Books.