Art Practice: Stream of Consciousness

Art practice is a tool belt. We collect exercises and processes to advance our creativity and ability to derive and hone in on inspiration. My fiancé’s professor recently advised the two of us to start every day with stream of consciousness writing. 

Much like brainstorming (which I write about in Making Conceptual Connections in Art) I was taught this writing practice in elementary school and throughout English language arts classes I would encounter it repeatedly. I was always ambivalent or worse, ashamed, as I let myself freely write without restriction or pause. Our uncensored thoughts left to roam free can be difficult to face documented.

You’re pushed by some fervency as you shouldn’t let yourself falter, putting out word after word as you track your train of thought. Much of it may not make sense or be extremely vulnerable and raw, but it’s a valuable meditative tool and warm up exercise. Follow the flow, feel the words fall from your mind. Grammar doesn’t exist, sentence structure doesn’t exist, punctuation is irrelevant, don’t let anything hamper the flow.

Writing my stream of consciousness: I’m not sure what is inside my head I’m not sure where to follow where to go I should know this by now now what am I right now I am sitting in my bed my head hurts jaw aches I can feel pulses in my gums across my bone in my teeth is it my heartbeat beat beat beat beat.

The professor recommended we sit together and write for fifteen minutes in the morning, unlock our minds and document what comes out. For another fifteen minutes, we will then draw what we have written. It could be abstract, symbolic, representational, whatever best describes the sum of words written. We reconnect our hand with our mind.

Art is a strange thing. Information is expressed using our body, refined by our mind. The more you can open the passage for thoughts to travel from your mind into the world, the easier. Think of birth, contractions pushing out a conception, painful, beautiful, impossible and natural.

We must unlock our minds and strengthen the bridge that carries our ideas from within. Stream of consciousness writing is a perfect daily exercise for overcoming creative blocks and encourages routine that motivate art practices. 

Writing my stream of consciousness: am I enough to do what I know I must do? I don’t want to question because that wastes time time time question wants an answer but I don’t have time to look for an answer. Where where where would I look oh another question fuck you fuck you fuck you breath in my throat in my nose air all around me fucking air irritation burning skin I hurt but sweet sickly hurt skin innards wishing time machine inside where where when stop asking questions anger lurks because I’ve been so unanswered all my life anger builds because I refuse to acknowledge look look look at it look at the anger it’s a curled dragon and it always has been since you were a delusional child using fantasy to protect you scaled power teeth fire. 

How do you draw time? How do you draw frustration? In my writing I already connected my anger to a symbol I’ve fallen upon throughout my life, a dragon. To draw, I would reread and notice what jumps out at me. What catches my eye, what feels important. Pain, time, anger, the dragon. 

Often with this type of freehand sketching I’ll use a pen and keep the style loose, employing patterns and line work to create abstracted mood and symbolism. Instead of drawing a full dragon, perhaps the image would incorporate wings or scales. Time would be represented by Fibonacci inspired spirals, patterns of circles and swirls forming the backdrop of time. My thoughts had followed from a key expression: ‘Can I do what I know I have to do?’ Facing anger, accepting my insecurities, releasing unanswerable questions, these sentiments build substance into my drawing with conflicting patterns that release into the time scramble.

Do all you can to free yourself and keep true to your feelings, these exercises are meant to supplement your skill not be a magnum opus. Release expectations and internal criticism.

Even with all our effort, we must not drive for perfection. We can’t practice every day, do both parts of the exercise every time, or keep to a fifteen minute timer. That’s not conducive to our growth. We go at our own pace and must be forgiving to ourselves. Pushing ourselves harder than we can manage only results in burnout and resentment. This exercise is meant to help motivate and inspire you, not be a burden. 

Our art journeys are a winding road. Building our repertoire of skills will aid in attending to our weaknesses and blocks in our progress. Drawing and writing down your thoughts regularly will prove to be a valuable asset in knowing yourself and your art and growing both. For more articles on navigating your journey, check out the tag Advancing Art Skills

Until next time we talk, may your hearts be full and minds open, I hope you have a lovely day. Thank you for reading.

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