Why Noticing is Important for Artists

In the spirit of slowing down and having a lighter agenda during August, this week’s item is a re-post from my Art Fluency Discussion Group on why noticing is important for artists. In this post I discuss the two main reasons why noticing is important and there is also a short exercise available as a PDF download for you to purchase.

Following Intuition & Creative Impulses.

If you are an artist who likes to work from your intuition, honing and further developing the skills of noticing the moments, nudges and quiet “what ifs” coming from your intuition will help you in your art.

But, what is intuition?

Intuition operates outside of our awareness. It is the part of us that is noticing, observing gathering information without our conscious mind being aware. There have been research studies into intuition as a psychological process, concluding that the brain uses past experiences and cues from the self and the environment to make a decision. The decision happens so quickly that it doesn’t register on a conscious level. It is this unconscious sifting of information that is our intuition working and how our intuition often knows what to do next.

Our skill as artists is to learn how to listen and lean into this vital source of internal guidance. One of the ways to do this is by paying attention to how your intuition makes itself known to you. Sometimes this might be pretty obvious, your inner voice may very clearly say “What if I were to do……” In this example following the path of our intuitive impulse is clear, we can act on the what if and see what happens. However, our intuition doesn’t always speak to us as clearly as this. It may be much quieter. It may be wordless impulses or other clues that our intuition uses to let us know something important.

Other signs that it can be useful to pay attention to in developing our noticing skills are things like paying attention to “gut feelings” Scientifically we do feel emotions quite literally in our stomachs so the phrase gut feeling has a basis in reality. Noticing feelings like this can be a useful way to tune into our intuition. Take a moment now to place your hand on your stomach, pause and take a breath. What do you notice as you do this?

Other ways our intuition may speak to us could be that we keep repeating movements, shapes, lines, or colours in our work. Particularly those that keep reappearing without our conscious intention. There may be patterns in our thoughts when we are working. You might find yourself noticing similar themes to the subject matter you notice in other artists’ work (notice what you notice and why). You keep being drawn to the same ideas of forms of expression. Or to the objects or scenes you photograph (notice what you notice and why) You are curious about something or someone.

And finally, pay attention to your dreams and daydreams for example the symbols, colours and shapes that occur.

These are all ways our intuition may be giving us clues.

Tuning into Your Mindset & Mood

Why is tuning into your mindset and mood useful?

Knowing your mindset when you are making your art can help you. For example, do you know what mindset results in your best creative energy? Can you tune into what you think and feel while making your art, and how that might be influencing your creativity? While developing the skills of noticing your inner dialogue when you are making your art as well as your feelings and responding to them can also help you support your creativity.

Other ways to understand more about mood and mindset are physical sensations. For example, how does your body feel? Do you notice any stiffness, tightness or discomfort anywhere? How are you standing or sitting?  Areas to pay attention to are shoulders and neck, back, joints, and gut. Are you tuned into your physical sensations and are there any associations with this noticing?

Once you have begun to pay attention and notice your mindset, feelings and sensations when you are working the next step is to decode what these mean and then respond accordingly.

To help you continue to explore these ideas I have put together a painting exercise along with questions for your journaling. You can access this short exercise in the form of a PDF download below.

Published by Lin Cheung

I am an artist and teacher and I love working with people to help them be more creative.

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