New year resolution: reboot your mind with creative play

New year resolution: reboot your mind with creative play

When was the last time you did something creative? Have you ever gotten so involved in a project that the day just flew by? Take a break from Netflix binging and expressing outrage about the latest political kerfuffle. Start playing and your mind will thank you for the distraction. 

Don't think you'll be creating masterpieces -- you're just experimenting, and anything goes. What you'll find is that these projects can be a jumping-off point for your own original art. 

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Blackout Poems: Artist Austin Kleon started doing newspaper blackout poetry as a way to cure writer's block. It worked, spectacularly, and he published a book of blackout poems. He admits that his idea wasn't original; artists and writers, including Tom Phillips (Humument), beat generation writers William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, surrealist Tristan Tzara and many others over the past 250 years have created blackout poetry in some form or another.  The concept is simple. Take pages from the newspaper, a magazine or a book and completely cover the words you don't want to see with a black pen or marker. What remains is the writer's version of negative space. It's not as easy as it looks and phrases or sentences that result will be surprising and fascinating.

I did my blackout poems on 2.5 x 3.5-inch cards, and used an old Zane Grey novel; the western imagery and his phrasing made for some interesting poems. Check out Kleon's brief video on the subject and give it a try! 

Imaginary Animals: Artist Carla Sonheim's 2012 book, Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals, allows you to quickly and easily create critters that are whimsical, funny or just plain weird. They don't even have to bear any resemblance to actual animals, which means that anything goes, and craziness rules the day. Sonheim gets you started by going outside and drawing sidewalk cracks and using those shapes to build drawings. This would be a great exercise to do with kids, who are often so fearless when it comes to art. I created animal collages from instructions in her book, again on 2.5 x 3.5-inch cards, ripping up some ephemera in small shapes and drawing in eyes, ears and feet. Go do it! Visit Sonheim's website for online classes and free instructional videos.  

Writing Without Boundaries: Love fan fiction? Poetry? Prose? Want to write a novel chapter by chapter from your phone while waiting in the school pickup line? Freeform writing without boundaries… and with a social audience? Explore a new platform and start by monitoring other writers to see how they are using the platform and incorporating (crowdsourcing) input from readers. Wattpad, Medium, even Quora are hosting new and innovative writers unbound by traditional publishing platforms, software, guidelines (and costs). Read more about your options here.

International Mail Art: Miss having a pen pal/artist friend across the pond? Both Toni and Julie (your C&C authors) are members of the International Union of Mail Artists, a collaborative of artists of all levels of experience, styles, and backgrounds who share postcard and art by mail with others all over the world. Here’s just a sample:

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There are so many ways to stretch your creativity and reboot your mind with play, from visual art to poetry and fan fiction. Make a resolution today to jump in… and play!

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