Getting started on any new creative project can be difficult. Sometimes we want to create something, but we don’t have any concrete ideas on exactly what that “something” is. Or we are overflowing with ideas, but because there is so much going on in our heads, we don’t know where to start. In both cases, the basic task of simply emptying your pockets can help give you a starting point – either to conjure up some ideas you never considered or just to help you focus your mind.
My pockets are always full of random items. I have two small children who are constantly handing me wrappers, small toys or rocks and leaves they pick up from the yard. I also do a lot of collecting for my blog The Found Art Walk so I search for inspiration in unexpected places and pick up bits and pieces along my way. On any given day, when I empty my pockets, a shower of color, nature and texture rains down onto the table below.
There are several ways to approach cataloging your collection and you’ll only need a few basic items to get started:
- The items from your pocket (or anyplace you collect random items. The cup holder in my car is another great place to scavenge for items. Also, check the junk drawer in your kitchen or desk).
- A journal or sketchbook
- A pen or pencil
Other tools to try:
- A camera (to take pictures of your collections)
- Scotch or washi tape
- Glue/glue stick
- Small envelopes
- Paint, markers or colored pencils
Once you have your collection of items in front of you and you’ve gathered your tools, try one or more of these techniques to harvest inspiration from the tidbits and trinkets you’ve assembled.
- Make an arrangement – begin by simply moving the pieces around in a way that feels natural to you. You could start by sorting them by color. Or if they are all similar colors, try sorting them by shape. Do you see a pattern in what you picked up that day? Are you drawn to certain colors or shapes? Take note of that in your journal.
- Create a shape – as you’re moving the items around, what do they look like? When you piece them together, do they turn into a flower, an animal, a robot, or a new un-named creature? Take pictures of your shapes so that you can use that inspiration later.
- Take scientific notes – make notes in your journal for each piece and record color, shape, how it feels, where you found it, what it is, what is could be, etc… If you’re able to, adhere the item into your journal with tape or glue and make the notes around it. You can also place your items into a small envelope and glue that into your sketchbook. Pretend you are a cataloging pieces from an archaeological dig or you’re a scientist exploring uncharted territory and you’re recording all the elements of your adventure. Or make up new uses for these items. Forget about what we use it for in this world. Think of the craziest use for each item. Write a scene or story about your explorations and discoveries. Or you can sketch out the new purpose for each piece. Is it part of a larger contraption? What does it look like in its entirety? What purpose does it serve?
- Create a palette – what colors are you drawn to in your collection? Are they colors you usually like or are there some new combinations you wouldn’t have thought to try? Hint – pieces of candy or product wrappers are great for this and many have bright, eye-catching color combinations). Make notes of the colors in your journal and try to recreate them with your paint, markers or colored pencils. You can use these colors as backgrounds or accents in art journal pages.
- Make a collage – get out your glue stick and create a collage out of any paper pieces you’ve picked up. Add some papers of your own such as ledger paper, maps, insides of business envelopes or your kids’ drawings. You can also paint and/or draw on top of it. Just have fun!
- Involve your kids! – this is a great exercise to do with your kids, not only because it helps you sneak in a few minutes of creative time into your day, but also because kids have incredibly uncensored imaginations and will help you dream up ideas you never considered. It’s also a great activity you can do when you’re out running errands or waiting for an appointment and need a distraction to keep your kids occupied. Ask them what they have in their pockets or show them what’s in yours and run through a few of the exorcises. The results may amaze you (hopefully in a good way).
Working through one or more of these techniques when you’re blocked or overwhelmed can help focus your mind and help you to look at everyday objects in a different way to generate new ideas. And the best part is that you can do all of them again each time you have new items in your pocket. The possibilities are literally endless.
We’d love to see your collections and what you create with them. Leave us a comment or tag us if you post them on Instagram (@ArtoriumEmporium and #ArtoriumEmporium).