I asked participants how they felt about some ‘free’ time, once we had completed some activities and they liked the idea- but of course we didn`t need it!
When you plan for things I find that is often the case! I wonder if this is because we can`t predict our own process let alone the processes of others! You have to be in the moment with the process. Maybe the power of creativity comes when we let go of trying to control it…..however I like the ‘free’ time idea and it may come in useful at some point.
We started warming up with some doodling taking inspiration from Bolton Museums` beautiful collections….group members were itching to get started. It seems really important I follow their pace as best I can.
I wanted each group member to begin to create a background for their mantra; my plan is to turn these into postcards and use them to promote the project. Each group member was given some ink and bleach and we looked at this image from Bolton Museum and we were off…
The rest of the session was spent playing with the materials…there were shouts of delight as the inks and bleach surprised them! One group member spent the whole session layering one picture, whilst others made a few pictures trying different things each time and then going back to an image to rework it. Group members said the process was “therapeutic”, “go with the flow”, “I love it”, “feels free”, “hypnotic”….I could feel the energy in the room and the power of creativity at work….I am wondering what it was about the inks and bleach that felt so satisfying? Perhaps the balance of control, but not too much control was right for this group and allowed them to let go of what looks ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ and enjoy playing and experimenting.
I`m hoping we have more sessions like this one! And as we explore and experiment more I hope we can express more and more about our creative process.
The second workshop at Inspire felt a lot more busy, group members seemed relaxed at what would occur and eager to begin. We warmed up by doing an exercise inspired by Violet Oaklander (she`s amazing)! I warned the group members this exercise was just for them and they didn`t need to share it with anyone- I set the timer to take some of the pressure off. All group members had a go and I felt admiration for their willingness to try something new.
We looked at some botanical images from Bolton Museum to inspire us..
Each member appeared to have a very different pace and style of working; some preferring to plan it out carefully, some not quite knowing where to start, whilst some wanting to dive in there and just get going. Reflecting now there seemed to be more energy at the start of the group and then the atmosphere appeared to calm down, perhaps as people veered off more in their own directions.
Reflecting I think I gave too many instructions that perhaps may have interfered with participant`s process of …..We seemed to hit a difficult point in the middle of the session, but once that had passed beautiful things began to emerge. Lots of things to reflect on for the next workshop. I think perhaps my anxiety about creating an enjoyable experience, over shadowed my ability to let go and follow the group members process. I might see how the group feel about some time in the group free from instruction; where they can just use the materials to do exactly what they want.
I began the workshop with inspire, prepared for the difficulty that might arise in participants, (as so often does in myself), from the process of ‘freeing up.’ However as I often find my fears are in fact that- my own! The creativity and openness of the group squashed all these concerns. I wanted to allow the participants to lead on what they found most enjoyable, yet add challenge, which often means not following,…. but the reasoning around this is so participants are able to try out different ways to express themselves, and perhaps find or rediscover more natural ways…a paradox that makes my head spin! and a difficult balance that I won`t always get right.
Participants reflected that they became more at ‘ease’ with allowing themselves to doodle freely, even the exercise where they used their wrong hand to do the same doodle, was met with openness. With one group member actually preferring it. One group member commented that being, ‘asked to doodle almost made it feel harder to relax.’ I can relate to that…as soon as you`re asked to do something it makes it more conscious and the whole point of doodling is to not think about it! We also noticed, and I include myself in this, that once we looked at zentangle drawings for inspiration and tried to create our own, levels of frustration heightened and two participants wanted to begin again. There is something about letting go of the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and how you nurture that in a group.
I am hoping as we relax into the sessions we`ll get freer and become more at ease with experimenting, which will hopefully lead to some discovery. I feel really excited to meet the group again and more relaxed about what will occur.