When I was in college, the professor of my Introduction to Drawing class gave an interesting and useful assignment...100 drawings of one object, (I chose a cardboard box). Looking back I understand what a brilliant assignment this was. After the first dozen or so drawings, one simply must 'get creative' to fulfill the 100 drawing quota! I've been reading Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit, and in her chapter entitled, Ruts and Grooves I discovered Ms. Tharp suggests something similar. She says, "If you find yourself caught in a rut, what you really need is a new idea, and the way to get it is by giving yourself an aggressive quota for ideas." She then describes an exercise she uses when she lectures at colleges...she shows students an object (she used a stool in her example) and challenges them to come up with 60 uses for the object in two minutes. She finds there is a consistent order to the quality of ideas; the first being the most obvious, and the ideas closer to number 60, more imaginative and creative. The same was true with my 100 drawings of the cardboard box.
Lately I've found myself lost and uninspired, experiencing lots of fits and starts and getting absolutely nothing accomplished in my studio, the result of which is pessimism. (Twyla addresses pessimism too, she calls it 'the mother rut".) So earlier this week, in an attempt to just do something, I sat down at my drawing table with a stack of assorted sketchbooks, pens, brushes, pencils and paints, and spend an entire day doing nothing but drawing; sort of a combined variation on the 100 drawings and the 60 uses exercises. I don't have any wildly imaginative drawings to post, (would you believe the wildly imaginative ones are too large for my scanner?) but the day of drawing did propel me out of my malaise, and into a better place...out of my rut and searching for a groove.