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Creating Collaborations—My Intention for the Year!

At the beginning of the year, one of my intentions was to create more collaborative work— with existing colleagues and venture into unexplored territory.

I see connection and opportunity almost everywhere (a blessing and a curse, I believe). Two weeks ago, I took a fabulous course with Ramiro Davaro-Comas, a professional muralist and instructor at the Art Students League in NYC. (Ramiro has been painting murals for 15 years, painted over 200 murals, and facilitated more than 150 additional murals. You can find his work here, www.ramirostudios.com and www.super-stories.org) I have a (not so) secret desire to create more murals—BIG artwork. I want to add more of this type of work and play to my repertoire. 

During the session, I also found that I was constantly thinking about the mechanics—the micro-adjustments necessary to create the desired effect with the spray paint—which nozzle I was using, how close my hand was to the wall, and what angle I needed to get a tight straight line as opposed to a wide swath of paint. Sustained, hyper-focused attention to the details of my drawing is not so common for me—I most often work in well-known ways that are almost second nature. It was a great lesson in microlearning. 

After the course, having had so much fun and learning new skills, I approached Ramiro about partnering to create a session I could offer to my community—visual practitioners. The idea has come together so easily and quickly! The session is on the calendar, announced just yesterday to my bikablo alumni and now for everyone who would like to dive into this learning experience/adventure. While it might seem like the session—an afternoon in Bushwick (Brooklyn) is all fun and games, visual practitioners, trainers, facilitators, and coaches are always creating posters, charts, and collateral that includes headlines/hand lettering, close attention to layout, and color.

Have I whetted your appetite? Are you curious to learn more? I’d love to talk with you about my experience and to answer your questions!

Come to New York, if you’re nearby, and run into the city for the day. I added a brief trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to start the day for those who love to be up early to begin their day in Manhattan. All the details of the schedule are on my calendar. Or perhaps make it a long weekend in the middle of the summer, or maybe you’re attending the IFVP (International Forum of Visual Practitioners) Summit that begins the day after this session, and you will add this adventure to your calendar.

As you can imagine, space is limited because we will be plorking (playing and working) in the backyard of world-renowned LowBrow Artique, a Brooklyn gallery, and a spray paint store. Find more details on my calendar here.

Perhaps most importantly, beyond the joys and challenges of hand-lettering, what do you think about your experiences with collaborations and partnerships? And of greatest import, what are your intentions for this year? How are you living into them? I’d love to know!

PS: And, if you’re curious about more visualization events and resources, email me to join my ezine list. Yesterday’s edition was chock full of info and goodies!

I LOVE feedback! What about you?

When you finish a project, what do you do? Do you celebrate, reflect, plan for the next time/future, and…?

 In the past two weeks, I’ve had opportunities to engage in giving (myself and others) feedback. I’ve also considered how I want to receive it from others. These have been enlightening experiences. 

In what circumstances do you offer feedback, appreciations, observations, reflections, critique, constructive criticism or the like? 

What do you think, feel, and communicate before engaging in the activity? And how is it different when the sharing is one-way, a conversation with one or more people, or setting up an opportunity for people to share feedback?

In my practice
I have developed a daily art practice. One project took me into rather unknown territory—working with a combination of acrylic paints and pens, gouache, collage, gel matte as a fixative, and mixed media paper. While I’ve worked with almost all of these materials before, this particular sequence and the combinations were new and held challenges (the weight of paper was not quite right for all the media, using gel matte with gouache is tricky {there’s a story there!}, and more. I’m also the gal who follows the “recipe”/directions the first time I do something, and then I change it up. I tried to follow the plan this time but then abandoned part of it. (I gave it a good try twice and didn’t like the results, so I found my way.)

 

Working/Being with others
I am always observing people’s habits/how they give feedback to themselves and each other. As the facilitator of a recent experience, I sought to guide the reflections in a generative way—with a focus on appreciating aspects of participants’ work about the criteria of success and pointing to opportunities to try new and different techniques rather than viewing aspects of their work as mistakes or flawed. While I believe in recognizing mis-strokes in drawing and processes that didn’t achieve the intended purpose and impact, I always choose to “fail forward”/focus on future possibilities. It’s delicate work being a facilitator seeking to create a warm, open, honest, learning-oriented environment.

I was also part of a gathering of about 30 people interested in addressing climate change through art and activism. The organizers asked for feedback, and I shared my reflections using my simple framework of: 

  • asking about their intentions and goals—thinking about the complete experience for participants (before, during, and after the event)
  • what I appreciated/the processes that had worked well for me and as an observer (I never stop thinking of group dynamics)
  • what might be done differently next time and why I thought so.

The facilitators were receptive.

These experiences were instructive to me—personally (in my artwork), as the facilitator of learning experiences, and as a participant with a stake in the event. 

What do you enjoy, find challenging, or wonder about harvesting people’s thoughts and feelings about experiences?
I LOVE hearing reflections and always ask for them, even when time is short. Here are a few photos of quick feedback from students after several 45-minute sessions at a conference. They put the sticky notes on the chart paper on their way to the room. I asked them to share about their experiences: 

  • What did you like?
  • What did you learn?
  • How will you use your new knowledge and skills?

Their responses gave me a pulse check about their engagement, enthusiasm, and learning.

Here’s one last example of a feedback sheet I use during some of my Appreciative Inquiry sessions.

 

How do you elicit reflections on your work? What influence does what you learn have on future sessions? I’d love to know!

In praise of great teaching

It’s so important, I will say it again:

Great teaching, the right tools, experimentation, willingness to get it wrong to get it right, perseverance, and the pull of a challenge are essential elements of the learning experience and lead to success!

The Back Story

Acrylics, with and without Flow-Aid on raw linen, 33″ x 36″

I am venturing into new creative territory—color mixing. I have been playing with all different kinds of paint (acrylics, fluid acrylics, high-flow fluid acrylics, and gouache), additives (water, Flow-Aid, and mixes), and substrates (mixed media and watercolor papers, raw canvas and raw linen) for the past six months. While I loved taking a class in watercolor decades ago, I found it very challenging and lost patience with it (or maybe with myself?). The work and play this past half year have been (mostly) a delight!

Now I am in the process of learning color mixing with watercolor to make my work with acrylics (and the rest of the paints) more consistently successful—meaning achieving my desired results with greater ease. 

I started an online course over the weekend and discovered a few key factors to my success and happiness with my effort:

  • A great teacher makes a HUGE difference! I love learning from someone who goes step-by-step—the mark of someone who teaches with learners in mind, who can step out of their own level of expertise to meet us where we are.
  • The right tools are very important—from the light (a simulation of good daylight), the right paper and paints (I have several sets of watercolors and it took a bit of playing Goldilocks to find the one that worked best), and the best brush for the task (easier said than done).
  • I had to let go of a desire to get it right the first time—I know (in my mind/logically) that it’s critical to experiment AND there are only so many hours in a day so I want to get “there” fast. My heart needs to be involved in this journey as I want to enjoy—and not just learn from—my results). Experimentation and “stick-to-itiveness” is essential. 
  • Ensuring that I use my new skills consistently, so they become second nature is critical. The teacher I am learning from has developed a 14-day challenge in which we use our new skills—I LOVE it! It’s a great investment of my time and money.

Whether I’m focusing on training, facilitation, or coaching, these same concepts and practices are foundational to growing my knowledge and skills and those of my clients. While my example below is a deep dive into the world of visualization skills, if that’s not your world, how would you adapt the ideas to your work and your clients? I would love to hear of your modifications and expansions upon my ideas—I hope you will be in touch!

Aha! Drawing the Connection to Our Plorking* with Visualization

As you reflect on your journey with bikablo—whether you have completed the Basic course (Days 1 and 2), the Advanced course, Extraclasse or coached with me to elevate your work—what are you doing right now to consistently broaden or deepen your skills?

In thinking about visualization, most recently, I am thinking of my practice and my clients through:

  • offering the students in the Gonzaga University course, “Visualizing Meaning and Purpose,” a list of prompts for every day of the week—we share our drawings on our Miro board.
  • working from a list of prompts with several of my Drawify colleagues, to add to the platform (working in .svg format/Concepts)
  • reviewing a beautiful card deck over the weekend and being inspired to create new drawings based on the figures in the deck
  • being part of an international graphic recording team—and brushing off my sketchnoting skills to make “mini-stories” to capture key points shared during presentations at the Stanford University-sponsored Me2We conference last month.

* plorking—playing and working

Here’s a Query!

Are you interested in consciously and consistently improving your visualization skills? If so, how will you do it? While there is a world of possibilities, which is the right match for you at this moment in time (or planning for the future)?

  • Are you seeking a live class—in-person or online? 
  • Would meeting up for 30/45/60 minutes once every two weeks or once a month be the right fit for your style of learning and schedule, based on daily prompts? It could be a place to share your work, ideas, questions, and challenges.
  • Do you like the intensity of a 10-day Challenge—with the opportunity to post your work, see others’ work, and receive encouragement and/or feedback?
  • Is the new Procreate Starter Set package from bikablo the direction you’re moving? What interests you about it? What questions do you have?
  • Is one-to-one coaching a better use of your time and resources?
  • What other ideas are percolating for your professional development?

I hope you will consider the questions I raise in several ways: 

  • answer them, if building your knowledge and skills in the bikablo method is part of your professional or personal development plan—and let me know if I can be helpful as you design your path
  • re-write them to meet your needs and desires. What are you dreaming of learning now (and how does it fit into your plans for the remainder of the year or longer)?
  • tell me what you’re thinking about what I have shared and your plans. I find sharing my plans with the world (wisely, to those who will nurture nascent ideas) brings a different level of commitment from me.

I hope to hear from you!

More than Repetition—Conscious Practice (redux)

I just finished two bikablo Day 1 training programs (in-person for the first time since the pandemic and online) plus I offered a monthlong Mystery Tangling adventure for those who love the Zentangle method (and focusing on the philosophy too).

Both of these experiences explore guidelines for drawing yet more importantly…

  • In bikablo, we have a developmental approach and success factors to guide our work
  • In the Zentangle method, we use certain marks and are supported by a philosophy and techniques

In both, the focus is on being mindful about each stroke, conscious of our process —it is what improves our skills—it’s more than repetition.

When is the last time you were focused and aware of each stroke of the pen/marker? Maybe yesterday or…

What impact did that focused, attention have on your intended result? 

My tangling classes/teaching the Zentangle method and Bikablo trainings offer opportunities to engage in conscious practice and receive appreciative and constructive feedback about the results. 

What work or play are you engaged in that offers you feedback to grow on?

In thinking about how to best support the ongoing growth of my participants’ skills in all of my courses, I am developing a planner. I’d love your help in crafting an agenda/calendar/diary/planner that provides space to practice every day—consistency counts when you are burnishing your (drawing) skills.

Here’s my request for your ideas from my recent newsletter about designing the planner. (My apologies to those of you who are on my ezine list and saw this yesterday.)

 

 

Hellooooo!

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet and I’d LOVE to hear what you think!

For years, I’ve been crafting my own planners/agendas/calendars—I’m a bit like Goldilocks in the story with the three bears. I can’t find a planner that’s just right for me so I keep working to make it.

I came “this close” when I purchased the Passion Planner but alas no… so I’m building one with several objectives in mind.

It’s going to:

  • look great
  • support my planning throughout the year—with a year, monthly and weekly calendars
  • facilitate my practice—ensuring that I’m keeping up my skills

And I’d love your ideas to help make it the best!

I’m thinking of a few variables. Please take this survey now—it won’t take even 5 minutes.

I’m going to make this planner—though I’m thinking that I like the name “Owner’s Manual”—over the next few weeks and offer it for pre-sale in early November. 

Please help me make it great!

Take the survey here.

Thanks!

And, I drafted a practice sheet… Visit this Miro board to see an example of how to use it and download the blank practice sheet for yourself!

Please play with it and lmk what you think! Do you like the different angles of the tiles? Please lmk!

The deliciousness of re-imagining work and play

The past few weeks have been flurry of activity—with travel, speaking at a conference, meetings with colleagues from around the world, a summit, and a wee bit of vacation too. The experience of doing something different every day was exhilarating.

Now that I’m back home, it’s time to dive into the work and play of crafting new aspects of my professional and personal lives. I feel a desire to find my way back into the comfort of a routine to support the changes I want to make. I wonder a bit about that feeling, though I realize that a routine can facilitate processes for me.

How are you experiencing your life right now? 

Have you had some time away from work? What did it feel like to step away? And to return?

The Visual Thinking Global Summit in Bilbao, Spain, SHAKE it to SHAPE it!, gave me the time and space to explore my world—where am I now, what will nourish, challenge, and support me going forward?

What existing and new knowledge, processes, tools, resources, and relationships can I tap into, explore, leverage, or amplify to move in the slightly new direction I am envisioning? I have ideas grounded in my reflections and insights from the summit. These questions  loom large for me:

  • What do I dream about?
  • What experiments will I design to discover the path I want to take?
  • What will I let go of?
  • What I will commit to?
  • What timeline I will create for developing these ideas, the pieces of the mosaic of my life?

Related to all this imagining is the practical piece… How will I carve out the time for this work and play of altering the course of my practice? As a maker, I need large blocks of time to work on projects — to dream, imagine, design, question, play, create, revise, and complete. As a solopreneur, I have to ”manage”/guide my business and the various projects that comprise my work.

A recent article in Upworthy on Paul Graham’s work, by Annie Reneau, describes how makers and managers perceive time (and meetings) made me pause. I felt that it explained a lot about my scheduling of myself. I am both a maker (for work and play) and a “manager” of my practice and my life.

I loved this visual by Reese Jones, it feels spot on to me. It made it so clear that I need to create blocks of time and then be certain to use them in the way I intend. It’s also critical to have those smaller chunks of time for smaller tasks. 

What’s your understanding of how you use time? Is it serving you?

I am going to recalibrate my schedule and keep an eye on whether I am using it in alignment with my intentions. A new routine seems in order for the present. When I have a new plan, I will need to assess my calendaring again—that feels right to me!

I’d be curious to hear your experiences with making the time to reflect on your business/work, how you plan for and make changes and what supports you in the process. I hope you will be in touch!