The Brain Has A Gate Keeper
The best method I’ve found for shutting down the gate keeper and allowing your creativity to flourish is sketching.
It’s guaranteed to work to solve any problem I am trying to solve. Not just the visual ones, or ones that concern the painting I’m working on, but any problem that I’m trying to solve. My sketches often have notes in the form of single words or phrases written on the same page. Unrelated thoughts or ideas that materialize as I sketch. Evidence of the process at work.
Sketching is especially good because of it’s immediacy. I carry a small unlined note book or a sketch book with me at all times. Always at hand, and easy to reach, I would never think of packing for a trip without including my sketch bag in my carry on when I travel. It’s contains graphite pencils, eraser, sketch book, watercolor pencils, ink pencils and a brush with water in the handle.
If you are not an artist, and feel uncomfortable picking up a sketch book for fear of the gate keeper standing over your shoulder, try instead to draw the alphabet. Start with the letter ‘A’ and work your way to the end. Do capital letters and small letters, write in your own handwriting, then print, then try different looks and styles and flourishes. Try different words, and try your signature. Any lined notebook will do. No need for a sketch book, a special calligraphy book, special pens or pencils. Anything at hand will work. Draw the letters, the words, your signature.
Cut out words from magazines in different font styles and put them in your notebook, and practice drawing them. It keeps you from just making the letters the way you usually would, it focuses you on drawing the letters the way you see them, not the way you think you see them.
Turning your sample styles of lettering upside down will completely free your mind, and remove your preconceived notions of what that letter is supposed to look like. It will focus you mind, and shut down the gate keeper, allowing you to think creatively.
On the surface it may look like you are creating a drawing, but in reality, you are working on another project or idea. This is the Chameleon working it’s magic.
I was commissioned to create an illustration for an advertisement for a small community museum. The building itself is a museum piece, and they wanted only a painting of it for the ad.
The ad was about getting people into the museum, not just the building. I wanted to convey that by putting people going up the steps and through the door, but there was still something missing.
Since the painting had to show the outside of the building, my personal challenge was to show why they should go in. I didn’t want to do the cliche of putting pictures of artifacts like a frame around the image. So I added the ancestors. The ones who once owned the possessions the viewers were going to see. My client was very happy with the result. When I showed the curator she said “I thought we were just going to get a boring picture of the building. I didn’t expect this. It’s fantastic”