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"Pay attention. Notice everyday objects and everyday moments. Capture the details." I heard this advice from a children's book illustrator when she was a guest speaker in one of my college writing classes. Her words struck me then and continue to inspire me today.
As makers we look at the world with the eyes of an artist, noticing colors, lines, shapes, shadows, and more. If you're like me, you have ways to collect those essential details that inspire you to create.
Here are 5 strategies to capture the wonder:
1. Notice and Note
Keep a small notebook and pen or pencil handy. Throughout the day, take just a moment or two to pause and observe something that catches your attention. Notice details. Make quick notes in the moment.
When you revisit your notes at the end of the day, add more details to describe what you noticed. Also note any thoughts and feelings you want to remember about the experience. These reflections of the day are a great source of inspiration for art work in the studio.
2. Sketch to Stretch
Select an object or set of objects to observe. Draw quick sketches of shapes and lines. Use colored pencils or markers to add details: hues, tones, and texture. Draw a series of sketches over time to show how things change. Label parts of your sketches as a scientist would. Then, add phrases a poet would use to describe the objects.
3. Question for Detail
Focus on the subject of your observation. Brainstorm a list of questions someone might ask. I like to play with different audiences to generate varied and unique questions. For example, what might a child ask about this object? a giant? a magician? a teacher? a hero? a bear waking up after a long winter's nap? Make it playful to engage the right side of your brain.
For the left side of your brain, create a 5 W's and H chart (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How) to generate a variety of questions.
The answers to your questions are the details you'll use to create. Which ones will lead the way? Which ones will you leave behind?
4. Word Splash
Grab your favorite markers and splash some words about your day on paper.
Write BIG or small, in waves or deep dives.
Let each word ripple out with: alliterative phrases, similes, metaphors, related verbs, descriptive adjectives, synonyms, antonyms, personification, and more.
Create word art.
Make graffiti-style art journal pages with mixed media.
Try brush lettering.
Let the words flow into free-verse poems, odes, limericks, or haikus.
Design sentiment art. That's what we do:
5. Snapshot Sentences
How do your favorite authors capture everyday moments?
Select a book by an author you admire. Read like a writer. Highlight or collect snapshot sentences, the ones that evoke vivid pictures.
Add margin notes to identify strategies the author used to make pictures with words.
Create a separate shelf for mentor texts, the ones you'll revisit to build creative skills.
Collect. Create. Share.
Collect your everyday moments. Let them inspire you to create. Share with us.
If I dismiss the ordinary — waiting for the special, the extreme, the extraordinary to happen — I may just miss my life.
-Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life.
Here at Sunporch Studios we participate in several affiliate programs. This means we receive a small commission when products are purchased through links included in blog posts. There is NO additional cost to you. These links simply allow us to share more with you and we appreciate your support.
In the Studio...
Here are some of my favorite notebooks, pens, and markers for capturing everyday moments and creating artful inspiration. I've also included books that have inspired me to pause, notice, note, reflect, and share. I hope you find these treasures helpful.