Leonardo Da Vinci used to find inspiration by looking at stains on the wall:
"I cannot forbear to mention ... a new device for study ... which may seem trivial and almost ludicrous ... [but] is extremely useful in arousing the mind ... Look at a wall spotted with stains, or with a mixture of stones ... you may discover a resemblance to landscapes ... battles with figures in action ... strange faces and costumes ... and an endless variety of objects ..."
Here's an exercise that will help you use random patterns for inspiration and hone your visual thinking skills. You'll need a deck of index cards and a cup of tea.
1. This one has a nice start for a Monday morning: Make yourself a cup of tea.
2. It's always a problem to decide how to dispose of the tea bag, right? Keep an index card near your desk or wherever you drink your tea. Place the tea bag onto the index card and let the card soak up the excess tea.
3. When the card is dry, look at the tea stain and see if you can find inspiration. What do the random shapes suggest?
4. Now follow your inspiration and make a simple drawing on the card
This could be a good way to make inspiration and creativity a natural part of every day. This can be a regular activity. Try placing the tea bag in different positions to create different patterns. Each morning you can have a cup of tea and sketch a little drawing from the previous day's index card. At the same time you can start a new one for tomorrow.
Imagine being able to look through a stack of index cards with a year's worth of inspiring drawings.
How about making it one of your resolutions for 2006?
If you don't like tea I'm sure you can find other ways to create interesting random patterns on an index card.
Here's an example of a tea stain drawing.
Visual thinking is the practice of using pictures to enhance your ability to solve problems, think about complex issues and communicate effectively. You can learn more about visual thinking in visual thinking school.
[Update: You'll see some great tea stain exercises in the visual thinking art blog (scroll down)]
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