Do Think Share: January Challenge - Week One

When I saw the January Challenge, led by 64 Million Artists, it seemed like the perfect way to start a new year which will bring many changes and challenges through encouraging playful creativity to keep me occupied during the longest month of the year!

In March 2018 I took part in the Make, Do, Play challenge, led by King's College London, and this challenge follows a similar pattern: a daily prompt emailed to spark a creative response. Reading back through the blogs I wrote at the time, I noted that the activities encouraged me to find creative potential in the quotidian, so I was excited to get going with a new set of creative cues.

Day One
The first day of January: the first day of the New Year. A day with so much potential, and, usually, so much hangover. This year was different though as I woke up, if not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at least clear-headed!

We are encouraged to think about why the word we choose is important to us, and how we can use the January Challenge to perhaps help us to achieve our hopes for 2019...

Reflect
This year is going to be one of huge change and upheaval: my partner and I are having a baby, moving house, and changing jobs. I don't know what the landscape of our lives will look like this time next year, and in one respect that is absolutely terrifying; I feel completely unprepared for what might be coming, and it sometimes feels as though everything I have worked for has been cast into uncertainty. However, I am excited about this change, and raring to go on our new chapter together.


These kinds of word doodles are something I took up the habit of during 2018, and enjoy working on. The concentration required to reach a level of detail helps to both focus and distract my overactive brain, and to have something pretty to look at after an hour or so of work feels like an achievement. 

Day Two
A celebration of individuality and commonality

Reflect
A few years ago I took up yoga as a way of relaxing, stretching, and losing weight. It achieved all of these goals for me, and it is something I try and practise at least a couple of times each week. My challenge for this coming year is to try and incorporate more meditation into my routines; to connect with my body and mind more, and practice more mindfulness in daily life.

 

I used gold paint and black pen to create a little version of myself meditating. I like the simple cuteness of this prompt but can see how it could easily have developed, or been adapted into something much more dramatic or complicated. My cat also approves of this piece... 

Day Three
Are colours important to you, and what thoughts and feelings do they evoke?

Reflect
Looking around my living space, the colours are generally quite rich - my partner and I prefer vintage furniture, so to that end, many of our pieces are dark reds, burnished brass and various shades of walnut, oak, and cedar. When the sun sets through the living room windows, the whole room is lit with gold, and the effect is warm and cosy. Despite the association of the colour red with danger and alarm, it is also the colour of love, and I am blessed and grateful to have a lot of that in my life.


Having said that, I also love soft colours, and I'm currently going through a grey and white phase. This image sums up my day: a snuggly dressing gown, cushions, books, candles and crafting. White is the colour of purity, representative of new beginnings, and symbolising a range of meanings including light, goodness, safety, illumination, and understanding. Conversely Grey is often considered to be "an emotionless, moody colour that is typically associated with meanings of dull, dirty, and dingy"[1], however, I prefer the association with neutrality, calmness, balance, and sophistication (all things I strive to achieve!) 

Day Four
Did your story surprise you? Did you notice any interesting uses of vocabulary?

Reflect
I used to write a lot when I was younger: fiction, poetry, etc. As I got older I focused more on academic styles of writing and abandoned my youthful hobby; though I recently found one of my old notebooks in which I recorded my 'poems' and they were truly terrible! I don't think that matters though, really - creativity could be all about expressing individual artistry from and for yourself, even if (especially if) no one else ever even sees it.


I went a little bit rogue and wrote a poem today, rather than a story. But I loved the playing with language and finding new words to express the overall emotion of the piece. I also combined today's prompt with the inspiration from Day One to create something visual to reflect the colours of the words.

Day Five
What sounds can you hear and where are they coming from? Did you notice things you wouldn't have normally?

Reflect
When you walk the same way each day, the walk becomes automatic and there is a risk of missing out on the beauty in the activity of the everyday. I took a walk that I have taken many times over the past few years, but this time would be one of the last for these purposes, and this lent a lovely melancholy to my stroll as I attempted to take in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of an area of the city that I know so well.


I created a mood cloud of the sensations I was experiencing as I walked, and tried to absorb as much of them as I could - London can be overwhelming at times, and it's tempting to just put your head down and power-walk to your destination; but if you are brave enough to dawdle and just wander, there is so much to encounter.
As I mentioned on Day Two I have been trying to incorporate more mindfulness into my everyday activities, and incorporating a conscious, exploring mindset into a functional walk is a perfect way of unlocking a sense of creativity.

Day Six
What can you do to reduce your use of single-use plastic?

Reflect
Over the past couple of years there has been a surge of consciousness over our impact on the natural world with our consumer lifestyles - I am terribly guilty of this, and often find myself exasperated at the amount of rubbish I throw away each week. I am fortunate in that our area is pretty good with recycling and makes it very easy to do, but I do hate the amount of plastic and packaging that encroaches on my day-to-day life: fruit and veg; overpackaged deliveries; protective covers; it all adds up. I would love to cut down through using less packaging but, unfortunately, the nearest place for me to shop doesn't show any signs of wanting to reduce their plastic packaging - does anyone have any advice on how to approach this?


As the New Year started, I started Maternity Leave. It's a big, scary life change, and so I feel very lucky in that I am so well supported by the girls I worked with. Last night I met up with them for a few drinks (non-alcoholic in my case, of course!) and they surprised me with some lovely gifts for myself and for Spud. The wrapping paper was gorgeous and I didn't want to just throw it away, so, after reflecting on this challenge, and more than a few false starts, I turned the paper wrapping into a little ballerina, and I'm going to gift it to myself, as an act of self-care (!) and as a memory of my work friends.

Day Seven
Today is about opening our eyes to what's around us by... closing them! Do you think you might start looking closer at things?

Reflect
Last year, during my Master's Degree, we went on a field trip to a performative work that had been installed in a department store. The visit prompted me to consider questions of ownership, space, site, and purpose, and eventually formed the backbone of one of my essays. On this trip I bought a small teddy-bear who sits on my desk and reminds me to look more closely at, and into, things I encounter.


I am so bad at drawing - it's something I wish I was better at, but no matter how much I practice I never seem to particularly improve. This task also reminded me of one from the Make, Do, Play, challenge, and I was terrible at that one as well! To that end, I don't really see all that much difference between the picture I did with my eyes closed as opposed to the one I could see to do: however, I haven't tried to draw something representative for a while, so it was a nice reminder to have a little sketch every now and then, even if the end result is less than perfect.

Conclusion: Week One
What a lovely way to start the New Year; a little creative nudge every morning sets my day off to a great start, even if I don't actually get around to completing the prompt until later on.
I found Day Six the most challenging this week: It took me a while to work out what to make, and longer still to work out how to actually make it! I'm pleased with how my little ballerina turned out, and she looks fabulous sat on my desk!
One thing I've enjoyed about this week is incorporating creativity into my everyday activities, such as the mindfulness walk, which encouraged me to reflect on sensations as I was encountering them rather than considering the experience after the fact, and this is definitely something that I will use more of this year.

[1] Bourn Creative, 'Color Meaning: Meaning of The Color Grey, (2019) <https://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-grey/> 

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