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Creative Spirit Blog September 11, 2021 Observation


"The Magic in the Bark" Collage


"It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see." Henry David Thoreau


Observation is largely a sensory experience; the process of filtering sensory information and synthesizing it with thought. Our minds absorb physical reality through our senses and reorganize the data to develop our consciousness of the world around us.


We live in a hectic, fast passed, stress inducing world, and most of the time we go through life on autopilot. Work and personal life are often rushed and squashed together in a blur of activity. Information is streamed into us faster than at any other time in human history, due to advances in technology. There are those who enjoy life in the fast lane and then there are others that thrive better when things are at a slower pace.

There is a fine line between positive stress and negative stress. Positive stress that comes from working toward inspiring, achievable goals, and entering that state of “flow”, can provide intense life enjoyment and provide us with many health benefits.


However, when the pace of our lives starts to drag us down, it becomes hazardous to our health and wellbeing. We know the symptoms: impatience, lack of focus, short attention span, restlessness, worry, anxiety, and a mind that just won’t shut down. There is little or no time to take in the world around us and precious moments slip away.


Researchers have found that mindful observation has a strong relationship to creativity. People who had strong observational skills and notice their surroundings are more creative than those who don’t. Often, being observant also allows us to solve problems we wouldn’t normally have a grasp on since it helps us develop critical thinking skills. After all, whether we’re hearing, smelling, touching, tasting, or seeing something, we’re gaining valuable information about the world around us.


As artists we need that quiet time. Time to observe and make connections with past knowledge, because new ideas spring from old ideas. The more we observe, the more senses we use, and creativity is a very integrative process.


Quiet observation allows us to feel a sense of timelessness. In that stillness we settle back into a state of balance and gain back our equilibrium. We all look, but do we see?

Think…every painting needs a quiet place, to make the important area stand out. It is the stillness between the notes of music that give music its beauty. It is the pause after a well delivered line that allows the listener to digest the words.


One of the healthiest and peaceful ways we can practice our observational skills is being in nature. Being in our natural surroundings can spark interesting, valuable, creative work from people in all areas of life as well as artists. It can also offer lessons for basic living: how to be healthy, how to be calm, and how to find balance.


Observing in nature allows us to kick back and watch the world turn; to just be! It recharges our batteries and lets us return fresh to the task at hand with new eyes to see new possibilities. We need to take some deep breaths to clear our mind, and really see that which surrounds us. Stay safe. Carolyn



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