Rounding the Corners – Creativity Exercise #3

I came upon the mountain meadow and found peace in the curves and colors of nature.
I came upon the mountain meadow and found peace in the curves and colors of nature.

Many years ago I moved to a rural community after living in large cities for the first 23 years of my life. I did not understand why, but I found I was peaceful and more joyous when surrounded by forests and rivers.

The shapes and colors of flowers, pastures, lakes and meadows “spoke” to me. My mind slowed down and my creative spirit smiled.

The lines and angles of the office were jarring.
The lines and angles of the office were jarring.

I would go to work and over the hours the peacefulness of the countryside receded and my work energy would take over.

I was effective and hard working but something was missing.

I added plants and color to my office to softened the lines.
I added plants and color to my office to softened the lines.

I brought in plants and colorful chairs. That helped. I put up pictures I had painted. That helped too.

Yet it wasn’t until the drive home and on the weekends that I felt fully restful and at peace.

The curves and colors of trees are as unique as snowflakes.
The curves and colors of trees are as unique as snowflakes.

The natural swoops and curves of all things in nature seemed to be easier on my eyes and spirit. The more I was surrounded by nature the more I felt refreshed.

Recently I read an article about how our eyes see lines and curves. The article states that rounded edges are easier to process.

In fact we even can process flow chart information better if it is presented in curved boxes rather than the traditional angular ones.

I smiled at that article, thinking of all the right angles in offices . . . desks, books, pieces of paper, windows, file cabinets, computers. No wonder I wanted to bring in plants.

Nature is filled with gentle swirls and curves.
Nature is filled with gentle swirls and curves.

There are few if any right angles in nature like a file cabinet. Even a “straight” horizon is in fact curved, following the curvature of the earth.

The colors and curves of nature not only are restful, they have been found to encourage creativity. The National Geographic published an article about the benefits of nature, Connecting With Nature Boosts Creativity and Health

“A study at the University of Kansas found that young people who backpacked for three days showed higher creativity and cognitive abilities. People in hospitals who can see a natural landscape have been shown to get better faster.”

Good news is we don’t have to backpack for three days or all move to the country to get the benefits of nature. We can increase our sense of peace and creativity by intentionally focusing on nature.

And this leads us to Creativity Exercise #3:

Look up and look around at your town.
Look up and look around at your town.

CREATIVITY EXERCISE #3 Observe, appreciate and record the lines and curves of your life.

1. Step one is to intentionally observe the lines and curves around you as you go about your day.

It helps to see the lines and curves from different levels. Look up, turn around, kneel down as you pause to observe what you might overlook in your rush to be somewhere or attend to tasks.

What do you see? Is there a difference between nature and man-made objects? You can jot down notes, take photos or make a sketch of your impressions if you choose.

City planners have known for years about the benefits of trees on city streets.
City planners have known for years about the benefits of trees on city streets.

2. Look at scenes in real life or in photo books of places where there are man-made and nature-created objects side by side.

Where do your eyes focus at first? What reactions do you have to the different parts of the scene?

Windows and doorways  in many older buildings have arches.
Windows and doorways in many older buildings have arches.

3. Look at newer and older buildings. Are there any lines in the human-made objects that reflect nature? If so, how do they impact your appreciation of what you see? Again you can make notes, take photos or do a sketch if you would like to record what you see.

There are a thousands shapes and colors in nature.
There are a thousands shapes and colors in nature.

4. This is your chance to be a detective. Try to find right angles and straight lines in nature. You may want to go for a walk, look online or read books with nature photos.

Some folks have a friendly contest with their buddies with everyone sharing photos of their observations.

What are the lines like in nature? How does color impact the way you see the lines of nature? Do the lines change as the light changes or your position changes?

Turn your world up side down.
Turn your world up side down.

5. Look at the world upside down to change your focus and to minimize your mind’s desire to name the objects you see. No, you do not need to stand on your head. You can take photos and turn them up side down.

Do you see different shapes? Do your eyes focus differently when the picture is upside down?

Do you see the picture as a series of shapes rather than familiar objects? Again, you can write or draw your observations if you like.

I HAD FUN TODAY

The St Louis Arch is graceful.
The St Louis Arch is graceful.
I looked at photos of places I have visited and focused on the shapes.

I knelt by plants stripped bare of  foliage and admired their winter grace,
I knelt by plants stripped bare of foliage and admired their winter grace,
I went for a walk and knelt down to look at plants.

I like the way circles and curves draw my eyes into a painting.
I like the way circles and curves draw my eyes into a painting.
I painted and drew pictures using only circles and rectangles. I found that adding a circle or a curve to a painting made the rectangles less jarring to my eye.

The circles and curves also seemed to beg for bright colors and freed me to be creative and wild. It was fun!

I am looking forward to seeing what you do and what you observe. You can send me a post by facebook.

TO BE CONTINUED. Creativity Exercise #4 will be posted in two days. 46 more exercises to come!

You can be notified of new posts by signing up for email notification. I won’t spam you or flood you with emails! Promise.

Have a great week,
Shaun

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