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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Looking at Patterns: A Creativity Exercise

To someone whose life is a long to-do list and who spends time running from one spot to another, one might say "slow down and smell the roses." To someone who is interested in being more creative, I say "slow down and observe." Not as poetic, but a reminder that observation is a key part of creativity. How can you be expected to produce a new idea if you don't examine the ones that are already out there?

So a good exercise in taking note of your surroundings is to find patterns. A better idea is to sketch those patterns, but let's take it one step at a time.

Buildings are a good source of patterns, but you can find them anywhere-whether that's a line of street lamps down a road, a set of tables in a restaurant, a line of boat piers along a lakefront, or a row of arches in a civic building.

Above is a railroad (railway if you're on the British side of the pond) station in Knaresborough, England. The Victorian arches and columns that hold up the roof set a distinctive and pleasing pattern, as I've highlighted in the left of the picture.

Sketchbooks can be easily found, quality isn't paramount, but you can record your ideas any way you want. The key is to keep drawing. You do not have to be an artist and your work isn't going to be judged, so ditch the voice in your head that says you have to be perfect and draw away.

Creativity is a habit that needs to be practiced. Drawing patterns is just one way to do that.