Drawing the human eye using charcoal and an eraser.
I am obsessed with birds. I have this strange belief that I will not uncover truths that I seek in my art without first understanding birds fully. So I am taking myself through my own Bird School– developing my own rudimentary curriculum and drawing out the answers and stitching together the truths.
Today’s lesson: The First Rule
Sketching and taking notes in the field are exercises that will force you to look more closely, reinforce your memory, and greatly increase the rate at which you learn. The joy of small discoveries is part of the great appeal of birding, and patient study is always rewarded.
– David Sibley
The first rule is simple: LOOK AT THE BIRD… Watch what the bird does, watch it fly away, and only then try to find it in your book.
1. Put the timer on for 10 minutes.
2. Write stream of consciousness about whatever- whatever comes out of the pen onto paper. Keep the pen moving.
3. Review your writing- read it out loud.
4. Circle the main words- the words that stand out for you- try for about ten. Ten key words. Trust your gut.
5. Write the words you circled.
6. Trim them down further.
7. Read your final selection out loud. Does it ring true?
8. Repeat daily.
Trust myself. Trust me. Trust Mom. Her letters. Her pain. Her addiction. My heart.
I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. ― Joan Didion, On Keeping a Notebook
Automatic writing, automatic drawing and mark-making all help me stay in or (re)enter the creative process.
Automatic writing is generally defined as the process, or product, of writing material that does not come from the conscious thoughts of the writer. The writer’s hand forms the message, and the person is unaware of what will be written. It is sometimes done in a trance state. Other times the writer is aware (not in a trance) of their surroundings, but the actions of their writing hand. [source].
Automatic writing is sometimes referred to as psychography– a claimed psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words purportedly arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source. [source]
Automatic drawing is a method of art making in which the artist suppresses conscious control over the making process, allowing the unconscious mind to have great sway. [source]
If I find myself in need of (re)entering the flow of the creative process when the flow has been interrupted by life markers, I don’t wait for inspiration to hit me. I don’t allow “writer’s block.” I put china marker to paper and allow what needs to be expressed, be expressed– without judgment.
As long as I take the time for the daily step to unroll the paper, clip it to my drawing board, grab my box of china markers and just automatically move my hand across the page, I stay in discipline. It can take as long as it needs or however large my window of time is. 5 minutes… hours…
There is something quite tangible and lovely about allowing the magic. No matter what (dis)beliefs we hold, the process can be quite universal for any project.
1. Start each automatic writing session with ‘My Spirit Guides or My Higher Self’ or ‘My Angels’ as the first line.
2. Just start writing and don’t worry about what you’re writing at first.
3. Setting a timer while you do it can be helpful
4. Create the right conditions so that you can lose your inhibitions about what you’re writing
5. Don’t allow your mind to interpret the information while you’re getting it
I use mind mapping when I plan a project.
E.g. as in Molly, a true crime analysis:
I also use mind mapping when I ingest information. It is a way to take non-linear notes, engage the whole brain and create one easy visual that allows me to remember what I read with a single glance at the completed map.
“Normal linear note taking and writing will put you into a semi-hypnotic trance, while mind mapping will greatly enhance your left and right brain cognitive skills.” – Tony Buzan
For example, reading the Power Path’s August Forecast
As I start to read, I write down main points and let them interact with each other, one leads to the next, one might direct you to another area etc.
Once I get the overall main points, then I add more detailed notes (this can evolve overtime), and though from your point of view, the result may look chaotic… for me, the map makes sense to me as I remember physically creating the whole map. In one glance, I can recall ALL the material that I read.
Keeping the mind maps for future reference is useful! For example the business plan mind map I created in 2013, which helped my daughter and I produce a highly praised business plan, is being pulled out this week to utilize it on another project. IT ALL RELATES and EVOLVES.
Mind map tutorial:
I am diving into a much-needed new mindmap this week, so I thought I’d create a tutorial during my process!
Tutorial so far:
PART 5 OF 7: Enhancing
Today we focus on each component and ENHANCE.
This is similar to the stream of consciousness mapping but now you are more focused. Think ACTION PLAN. You are building a structure. Research a bit. Make a to-do. (We will ADDRESS the items in more detail tomorrow).
Mind maps integrate both right-brain and left-brain thinking by capturing your stream of consciousness in a structured way. This method is perfect for brainstorming goals and organizing related ideas. – Jennifer Lee
Part 6- ADDRESSING
Email transfer or PayPal: email@example.com
I am diving into a much-needed new mindmap this week, so I thought I’d create a tutorial during my process!
Tutorial so far:
PART 2 OF 7: The Big Vision
You may recall my journey with mindmaps using:
Right-brain entrepreneur Jennifer Lee is a certified coach, writer, artist, yogini, and the founder of Artizen Coaching. Before pursuing her own passions full-time, she consulted for ten years for companies such as Accenture, Gap, Sony, and HP, helping leaders and organizations manage change. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and her website is www.rightbrainbusinessplan.com. source
Utilizing Jennifer Lee’s BIG-VISION VISUALIZATION SCRIPT, I encourage you to write about your ideal future, to think big, to see abundance and success in work, in relationships, in spirit.
Personally, I find it very empowering to write about an abundant future. It’s an ENLIGHTENING experience and a good anxiety-decreaser during those familiar dark and anxious times.
It is also fun to compare the big vision entries over time. For example two of my entries two years apart:
Despite my default setting of envisioning myself in a magical little cottage down by a little lake, what do I actually envision for myself when I really concentrate? My stream of consciousness writing shows:
- a beautiful workspace
- intimate corners
- cozy couches and blankets
- a library of books
- airy and sunny
- hardwood floors
- garden, outdoor patio
- kitchen, open space
- coffee and fresh pie smells and fresh fruit
- the pets
- easy to have visitors and family over
- but also private
- a place to store my art
- more income than expenses
- time for me
- time to enjoy
- ease of mind
- mortgage fully paid
- lots of savings
- blissful and at peace
- the smell of fresh basil
- flowers in vases
- online presence
- ease of blogging and lots of followers
- my art has a distinct vision and people are responding with ease and delight
- I keep pushing the envelope and make new groundbreaking work
- I have time to craft and explore new ways of manipulating art
- there is an ease to waking up in the AM with a sense of acceptance and accomplishment
- my books are best sellers and I mainly work on my own art which the world is hungry for
You now stand fully naked, fully present, fully you. Gone are the shackles that pulled you downwards into self-doubting, crippling anxiety. No longer do you hesitate before expressing. But most importantly, no longer do you collapse in shame and doubt after you expressed yourself.
Speaking your truth used to cause you to feel like you were choking on amniotic fluid. Felt like it came at a price.
Now you can breathe in and breathe out with open mouth, open nostrils, open sinuses, open throat, open heart, open eyes, open mind without fear.
You release your truth, your art, your work onto and into the world and receive back the conversations/communications with an open and fearless heart- a heart that is ready to dialogue.
Your work used to require boundaries. Your life used to comprise of self-imposed boundaries to protect your heart from rejection and loss. But now you are boundless. And so the work you have built on awakening creative expression in others- a gift you truly were born with and have worked so tirelessly to deliver- takes on a new level on a global scale. You are not in need of accolades. You are simply expressing, thereby allowing others to feel the same freedom. It need no longer be frontline work (in person), it is a new principle and way of living.
You have taken all the heartache, all the joy, all the blood and guts of life and built a mission and vision that has created true abundance.
You will never be anxiety-free and you will never not have heart-shattering challenges, but you now have a giant delicious toolbox with which to meet those challenges and easily process, die into them and rebirth from them. You are truly living with ease.
All is as it should be.
I find the BIG VISION process a cleansing experience. It is the opposite of processing the now or the processing of yesterday. It is a way to ease the heart and soften the belly.
You will find that mindmaps are a way to envision and put into practice your intention. This intention is thereby transformed into fruition. The process is not just an idealistic visualization but an actualization.
Part 3: stream of consciousness mapping
We are tapping into our calling, our purpose, our joy in this SACRED CONTRACTS journal series. It is inspired by Caroline Myss. The journal series is an experiment on my part, and I welcome you to join along.
Recall Part 1: Future and Present where we took time to look at where we would like to be, and where we are in this moment.
In Part 2: Where are your energy leaks? we focused on our body signals and biography makes biology.
In this exercise, we look at how we make ourselves visible in the world. As we address our passion, our calling- we must also address the roles we take on by wearing masks.
We Wear the Mask
Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 – 1906
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties,
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile,
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
Mask- a covering, a disguise, to prevent, to protect, to conceal, to filter, a pretence, a reflection, a performance, a transformation…
Journal as you contemplate the following questions:
What masks do we wear?
Why do we wear them?
What appearance do we portray to others?
Do we wear masks to hide what’s actually going on underneath?
Do we wear masks of persona to protect ourselves from judgement?
To maintain a semblance of control in the chaos of life?
Do we wear one mask, or many different masks or many layers of masks?
When do we fully remove our masks?
When are we safe to do so?
Do we create our own masks or are we born with a pre-determined set?
Or does someone else help us make them?
Are masks an avoidance of showing who we really are?
Do masks allow us to approach?
Or are they armour?
The crudest curriculum vitae crows and flaps its wings in a style peculiar to the undersigner. I doubt whether you can even give your telephone number without giving something of yourself. —Nabokov, Nikolai Gogol
MISSION: To awaken creative expression
VISION: To develop global art initiatives
Art Events, Street Art, Apparel, Curriculum Development, Workshops, Workbooks, Speaker Series, Craftivism, Illustration, Portraiture, Documentaries, Graphic Novels
for youth groups, schools and community organizations
Introductory Message from Katarina Thorsen:
In my role as art director at @bypoststreet, and as therapeutic art facilitator in the Lower Mainland, I am fulfilling my passion to awaken creative expression in everyone around me. I do this through visual art, art facilitation, art events, street art, blogging, journaling and craftivism. Especially sock monkeys.
Sock monkeys are a significant part of my work. Perhaps my life’s work!
I have been delivering sock monkey therapy and workshops for years and there is nothing quite as magical as witnessing the smiles on participants as they awaken to the healing power of the sock monkey. I use sock monkeys as part of my therapeutic art classes for at-risk youth and in my general art classes for all ages. The process is quite miraculous. The simple process of making a loveable creature allows for a moment of safety and caring. The socialization and resulting dialogue is part of the magic. Each stitch in a sock monkey contains thoughts, laughter, tears, dreams, horror, joy, secrets, trust etc. The natural instinct for many is to want to make more and to share them.
There are so many stories:
H. using a sock monkey to comfort her as she testified in court against an abusive boyfriend. T. making a sock monkey for his sick friend to take to treatment. M., struggling with mental health issues, making sock monkeys with worn socks and dental floss and couch stuffing, bringing them to me to send to Africa. C. using sock monkey making in her work with people living with Alzheimer’s. A. making a sock monkey for her hero, after his mom passed away. L. using sock monkeys to process trauma to face her abuser and to create dialogue and raise esteem in her peers. H. interpreting her favorite artist’s work through sock monkeys then connecting with the artist through her micro-industry online sales and social media. The entire school (Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary, North Vancouver) infused with sock monkey fever as we made 200 for Operation Sock Monkey.
Lindsey Hodgson and her Operation Sock Monkey team working GLOBALLY, delivering 1000’s of sock monkeys to children in South Africa, Nepal, India, Haiti, Northern Canada and more. Passion Foundation bringing sock monkeys as comfort for young victims at a rape relief crisis center in Cape Town. Families using sock monkeys to help comfort their terminally ill children and themselves. The use of sock monkeys in attachment therapy with Clowns Without Borders. Women in Woza Moya making an income through sock monkey making.
Little Maxx annually bringing smiles to children in a hospital in Philadelphia as he gathers sock monkey donations.
And the amount of people simply sewing a monkey to help them through emotional crises…
It’s endless. The feedback I get could fill a book and maybe it should. It’s hard to imagine the actual number of people who utilize the power of sock monkey to make the world a better place. And I am honored to be a small, albeit extremely passionate and vocal, member of that tribe.
I still make them on my own. All the time. I make them as my art. They help me calm down.
I make them as a volunteer operative of Operation Sock Monkey. I am passionate about spreading the word. I get countless requests to teach sock monkey making. But there is only one me, so my brother, filmmaker Fred Thorsen, created this wonderful video for me (originally offered as a class for Six Degrees of Creativity):
But there is a whole new level of sock monkey therapy that I want to explore.
I want to develop a life skills/entrepreneurship curriculum/workbook/workshop to increase the extraordinary powerful impact of sock monkey making– a replicable model that allows youth groups, schools, community organizations and Operation Sock Monkey to use sock monkey therapy to create healing opportunities and to teach business skills, business planning and mind-mapping, essential life skills and the power of entrepreneurship through a project-based learning model. I want to develop a powerful, easy to use tool to deliver the life skills, to awaken creativity, to increase the production of sock monkeys for income and for charity. The pilot project will involve seven local young women (graduates of my various youth-at-risk art programming) to test the curriculum and to help facilitate local workshops.
• Why now?
This is a critical time to begin the project as Christmas craft fairs are taking applications now for their 2014 tables, as schools are planning their 2014-2015 scheduling, as my team is ready to go, and as I have opened my life to this moment to dedicate my time to it.
I want to pay the fee to become a licensed Right Brain Business Plan facilitator to increase the power of the curriculum and to be able to expand the @bypoststreet curriculum event further.
I want the curriculum to be translatable and easy to deliver– locally and globally.
I am so tired of seeing cutbacks in programming, seeing schools and community programs have very little funding for workshop facilitators, yet desperate to bring them in. I want to create an easy means for these organizations to utilize the curriculum I have created on their own. I don’t want them to struggle financially to be able to deliver this powerful tool. And I don’t want to have to struggle financially anymore due to programming cutbacks!
As I wrote already, there is only one me, so I want to spread the curriculum by “training the trainers.”
I have dedicated my life to awakening creative expression in others, and now is the time for me to increase the scope of that teaching, to utilize all my knowledge and to build a new career for myself where I actually make a living through sustainable curriculum development around creative expression (from sock monkeys, to visual art, art events, journaling, business development, etc.).
I am the one to do this. I got this. You know I do!
I am looking to raise immediate funds to begin this critical phase to be able to focus on it fully in May and June. If you have been touched by the work that I do, and would like to see this project come to fruition, please donate.
a. Develop the curriculum covering:
Creative Expression, Therapeutic Groups, Art Techniques, Project-based Learning, Employment Skills, Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, Mindmapping, Business Plans, Community Outreach, Operation Sock Monkey, Social Media
b. Right Brain Business Plan Facilitator License– for @bypoststreet Art Director, Katarina Thorsen
c. Develop Pitch and Power Point Presentation
d. Christmas Craft Show application fees
e. Initial Team Development
f. Community Partnerships and Grant Applications
• Implement Pilot Project with group of seven local young women.
• Provide honorariums to pilot project team.
• Test curriculum, document and evaluate.
• Develop community partnerships (including- Operation Sock Monkey, Passion Foundation, Global Sorority, Girls4Girls, Mountainside Secondary School, Byrne Creek Secondary School, North Shore Neighborhood House, Squamish Nation, Hawthorne Care Centre)
• Grant applications.
October 2014- January 2015
• Create a sustainable model and workbook.
• Create website.
• “Train the trainers” workshop series.
• School and community workshops, craft shows and online sales.
• Community outreach.
• Workshop and speakers series.
• Community collaboration.
• Evaluate sustainable model.
• Expand curriculum series to include visual art, street art initiatives, interactive art projects, journaling, intergenerational projects, and project based learning.
• Expand global outreach to South Africa (Woza Moya).
Pull out some supplies and enjoy this old drawing tutorial to celebrate the release of our by post street iPhone case featuring Calavera (sugarskull) Karl!
Anna T Fabulous of by post street and Jenn Mickey of 1181 Lounge at by post street launch party, April 2013. Photo by Viranlly Aix Liemena