Week Twenty-Three

As a part of distance learning for my son’s kindergarten class, his teacher posts a storytime video of her reading a book, and when she’s done, she gives them a short assignment. When my son finished today’s storytime assignment, he rushed into my room where I was nursing the baby. “Mom!” He exclaimed, “All I had to do for this storytime was draw a dot!” I looked at him, confused. “Just a dot? Are you sure?” I asked. I had him bring the laptop into the room, and we watched the storytime video again, together. 

His teacher read “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds. In the story, a young girl, Vashti, stares at a blank sheet of paper and laments angrily that she “just can’t draw!” Her teacher encourages her just to make a mark on the paper and see where it takes her. So she angrily makes a mark, a dot, on the page. The next day, when she arrives at school, Vashti is surprised by what the teacher has done with her artwork. Here is a link to a read-aloud video of “The Dot” . You can also watch it on this page by pressing play on the book cover. Take a few minutes and give it a watch. If you have kids, invite them over to watch with you!

Play Video

I’d never heard of this delightful book until that day, but it embodies so much of my mission with Making Art Everyday. And it was especially timely with this month’s new “plus” as we explore limitations in creativity (more on that below). No matter how skilled we are at something, we all started from a place of “I can’t do this”. Sometimes that frustration stops us from ever trying. But with the right mindset or a little encouragement, we can take that first step and even develop an entirely new understanding of what we thought was possible.

What to Do

  • Take some time to listen to the reading of The Dot, linked above. Consider the preconceived notions you might have of yourself. Have you ever told yourself that you’re “just not creative?” You’ve probably overcome that feeling if you are participating in this challenge, but I know there are other things you might think you “can’t” do. Remind yourself that where you are today is not fixed, and you have the ability to grow, learn, and change.
  • Also, thank a teacher today. 

June Prompts

Nature + limitations

Welcome to June! We are moving on from humanmade objects to the beautiful, organically formed things found in nature. Some prompts are tiny things, others more grand, but all of them have plenty of room for you to put your unique spin on them. I tried to keep the prompts fairly simple because I really hope you’ll challenge yourself to take on this month’s “plus”…

June’s “Plus”: Limitations

Limitations are parameters, constraints, or restrictions you follow when approaching a creative work. For our purposes, this could be a limit within your medium, like only using one brush or one layer. It could be limiting the number of colors you use, imposing a time limit, or limiting yourself to only working with simple shapes. Remember the story above with Vashti and the dot? She felt completely stuck when the blank paper was in front of her. Then with the single stroke of her pen, she had a new parameter to work within: the humble dot. She used the dot concept to explore an array of creative avenues, making exciting discoveries along the way about her own creativity and her personal definition of what “drawing” could be. The dot was a self-imposed limitation. If you could only draw a dot, how many surprising ways can you interpret that shape? This is the power of limitations. For this month’s “plus” I challenge you to impose limitations on your artwork. 

I’ve written an article about the power of working within creative constraints. The post includes 20 of limitations for you to choose from. I invite you to select a limitation as you approach the prompts this month. You can choose a different limitation every day, focus on the same one for whole week, or whatever way YOU want to do it. I also want you to view these as experiments, not every piece will be a success, but no matter what, I think you’ll learn a lot! 

I won’t lie, all the “plus” challenges I’ve given you this year are forms of creative limitations – in fact, drawing from a prompt list is one too! You’ve been demonstrating how limitations can make you more creative all year long. 🙂

Week 23 | June 1-7

from the forest

Mon: mushrooms
Tue: ferns
Wed: wildflowers
Thu: feathers
Fri: clover
Sat: acorn
Sun: birch trees

You can access each week’s prompts, with links to reference photos, at makingarteveryday.com

We’ve got a Facebook group just for participants of Making Art Everyday and all things Bardot Brush! Come join our group of supportive artists of all skill levels, share your work, ask questions, and be a part of the community!