Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Does This Count As Exercise?

At Two Red Threads, I’ve been blogging about fear and perfectionism, which take a tremendous amount of energy but don’t do much to burn calories or tone flab. It’s not very often that I get worked up into such a mental lather, and I don’t like it. So I’ve pulled out tools I use with students who are stuck / afraid / dithering. Sure enough, I’m much better now.

One of the tools that helps me boost my productivity is starting my studio day with a 10- to 15-minute creativity warm-up. In most of my classes, I use a starting ritual or exercise to get students revved up. I’d gotten lazy about doing them on my own, but I’m back on the program now. Here’s the warm-up I used yesterday:



  1. Double Doodle. Spend a minute or two double-doodling on a large sheet of paper (I use recycled blueprints). Double-doodling is done with a marker held in each hand. I use two different colors. Try to vary your movements so one hand does not always mirror the other, and so that your hands sometimes cross the center line of your body.
  2. Quick Collage. After doodling, do a quick collage on the paper. I keep a stack of pages torn from magazines for this purpose. Just grab a few sheets from the pile, pick a couple, tear them into pieces, and start gluing them down with a glue stick. Remember, this is just a warm-up exercise so don’t overthink it or try to make it “be” anything. Set a timer, if necessary, to limit yourself to about 5 minutes for this part of the warm-up.
  3. Harvest A Crop. After gluing down collage elements, it's time to see what you can harvest from this exercise. You’ll need a cropping tool, which you can make from two L-shaped pieces of white poster board. Move the cropping tool around on the collage. Things will look very different within that white frame. Select something, cut it out, and glue the crop in your sketchbook.
I generally follow this warm-up with a few minutes of writing about the piece I’m working on or whatever else is banging around in my head. By the time I’m done, the studio has warmed up, my tea has cooled enough to drink, and I’m anxious to get to work. And that beats being just plain anxious any day.

2 comments:

Daryl said...

I love this exercise! Thanks for sharing it. I think I'm going to give it a try!

Donna Kallner said...

Have fun, Daryl! I'll try to post a few more after the first of the year.