It wasn’t until September 2013 that I was inspired to pick up a pencil and start drawing
again. At the Korea Burn (similar to Burning Man) festival, a man called Eddie came up to Adam and I with pastels and a sketchbook, encouraging us to create art.
“No” is not a word you often say in the spirit of Korea Burn. In fact, I was more than enthusiastic to sit down and draw something. Adam and I created a collective tree. Flipping through the sketchbooks was inspiring. Everyone had different ideas and techniques. Most of them weren’t incredible masterpieces, but they were all expressive and unique. You can view them here. I couldn’t remember the last time I made time for myself to draw, an activity I thoroughly enjoyed as a school-aged kid.
I then purchased my own set of pastels and began creating art. Adam started CREATE and GIFT, a spinoff of his 2010 New Year’s resolution to paint a watercolor everyday (Tonight’s Watercolor). I usually would say “I can’t paint”, but I didn’t actually try. When you practice creativity, you find that you can, in fact, paint. You can create something out of nothing, and that’s pretty uplifting.
I never keep my art. One of C&G’s values is nonattachment. I shyly posted my pieces on CREATE and GIFT’s Facebook page and was bewildered to find that people around the world, often strangers, wanted my art. I shipped them to anyone around the world for free, still unable to believe someone would actually want something I created; it’s a nice feeling.
Since we started long-term traveling in September 2015, my creativity dwindled. Being in Pai, Thailand, however, rejuvenated my motivation to create. Usually during whatever down time we had, I would reach for my Kindle and read. Yes, reading is wonderful and I couldn’t recommend it enough, but it is just as important to create your own thoughts and express yourself rather than take in others’ words.
As mentioned in the previous post, the creatives in Pai inspired me to draw again. With some good paper and colored pencils purchased for a dollar, I began doodling mandalas. My style has developed with each one and it has been a great exercise.
Mandalas can be beautiful with both simple and complex designs, colorful or black & white. Each one is unique like a snowflake.
Mandalas symbolize the universe. Balance. Impermanence. Harmony. Meditation.
Following CREATE and GIFT’s values, I continue sending them around the world to friends and strangers alike. The drawings are on postcard sized paper, so they could be sent as is. I always include a personal letter to the person and perhaps a story of where I was when creating the piece.
Drawing has helped me with expression, focus, and patience. It takes about 2-3 hours to make each one, a timespan my brain isn’t used to nowadays.
So, I post this because I want to encourage you (yes, YOU!) to create.
Write a song. Learn the harmonica. Write a short story. Draw a portrait. Paint a scene from your dreams. Sew an old t-shirt into something new.
Do something that scares you.
Do something that you say you can’t do.
Because you can.
You will surprise yourself. You are more creative than you thought.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, we helped out at a workshop that our CouchSurfing hosts were holding at their new studio, N o w h e r e. The neighborhood kids walked by and peeked their heads in. “Painting? I’m in!” Kids came pouring in, some went to go fetch their friends and they got down on the floor and created masterpiece picture frames.
Now, I cannot imagine a group of adults getting this excited about making some art. What happened?
Some of the girls finished early, so I taught them the basics of drawing a mandala. They didn’t need much direction because they created their own rules. Their creations were beautiful.
They ran out of materials at the workshop because kids kept coming up for seconds and thirds. They thrived off of creating.
We need more creative people in the world.
Daniel Pink would agree too.
So, what are you going to create today?
If you would like a personalized mandala postcard, contact me! As always, free to anyone in the world