So much to see in such a simple view.

Creativity is a muscle, and like any muscle, exercise it and you will be rewarded with results. In the same way you would never sit down at a piano and expect to be able to play without first learning how, we will begin to learn art. Art, at its core, is the power of observation.

So let’s start there. Grab your notebook and a comfortable chair and let’s get go!

To make art, it is good to begin with nature. Nothing can ever teach you as much about perspective, movement, value, light and shadow as nature. So in Week #1, we will begin to observe her.

Your challenge, should you choose to except it, is to take 10 or more minutes a day and go outside with your notebook. Choose a place that suits you and begin to observe. What do you hear? Birds, cars, the banging of a boat dock? Is it cold or warm? Windy or still? Close your eyes and pay attention to all you experience without your eyes.

Now write it down. Every bit of it.

Now open your eyes. What do you see? There are 360 degrees all the way around you, so narrow it down. Choose whatever can fit inside a photo frame. You can zoom in on something specific, like a flower, or choose a landscape. Use your phone to take a snapshot and describe this one area in detail.

Below is an example:
I’m sitting on my dock on Little Traverse Lake with my dog at my feet. When I close my eyes, I hear waves, cars zipping by on M22 — oh-so-many cars; like a symphony, one has not fully passed before the next one zips by. And birds; a better kind of song, the birds sing. In the distance, I hear people laughing, and way off in the distance, a dog is barking. I can feel the sun on my right side, but also a cool breeze; it’s cooler than the July 1 date on the calendar would suggest.

Now I open my eyes and there is so much to see. But I’ll focus on just one snapshot: the water in front of me. There are only light waves, but waves nonetheless. The water is so clear I can see the algae growing on the bottom of the lake, but also the sky, reflected. The waves are like a grid of elongated diamonds, light next to dark, reflection and shadow. Reeds grow up from the water, one leaning right, the next left. They are reflected in the water, at a slight angle. The left side that faces the sun is much brighter than the right that is in shadow.

And on and on you can go. Take a minimum of ten minutes a day with your notebook. Set a timer and time will fly. You may even find yourself exceeding the 10 minutes, and that’s just perfect!

I’ll be posting my findings on Facebook and I invite you to as well. Feel free to reach out with questions and happy observations, camper!

Puppy’s ready to roll. How about you?