Shooting Gallery/Our National Pastime




Our National Past-time, or Shooting Gallery, borrows the tropes of a carnival style shooting range, but replaces the traditional silhouette of ducks with photo based cut outs of myself. The work is direct, yet disarming in its playfulness; the use of common tropes allow the installation to transcend artwork and become social commentary.

Growing up in Toronto as a teen in the 80’s, I witnessed the rise of North America’s current mass shooting culture, from a time when gun violence seemed confined to certain “bad neighbourhoods” (which usually meant poor working class communities with a high concentration of immigrants often from the Caribbean) in addition to other urban gatherings, such as: basement parties, clubs, rap and reggae concerts, Caribana, and the closing day of the Ex.

These gun occurrences were ratcheted up to another level of media and public fear if linked to any form of gang related activity, or, met with resigned indignation and sorrow from the victim’s community, when the gun violence was perpetrated by a bad police officer against an unarmed individual (quite often a young Black male often from these same “bad neighbourhoods”).

Needless to say gun violence would lead, as it still does today, to ill-fated talks of gun regulation, which inevitably break down along political lines, with the two camps talking past each other.

By the unconventional and self-deprecating gesture of placing myself as the “sitting-duck” target of some innocuous gunplay, I am hoping for some alternative possibilities around the actual gun violence in our society. At the very least, Our National Past-time, is a call for urgent public discourse and an invitation to engage a pressing social issue through the disarming mediation of play.

I’ve done a number of art pieces since the early 90’s addressing, gun violence, Black on Black violence, and police brutality against unarmed Black men, I’ll be uploading some of these works at some point soon. Feel free to leave a comment below, as well as on my Youtube channel, and Facebook.

When the Rain Stops…Redressing a “colour-blind” society in the midst of a cultural moment

As many of us remain at home quarantining ourselves to flatten the curve, a pattern is emerging from the barrage of daily news-feeds. You’ve probably seen the headlines: COVID19 disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people. A recent online Toronto Star article reads “African Americans account for 70% of the 86 recorded deaths” in Chicago “but made up 29% of the city’s population. Louisiana saw the same 70% of deaths among African-Americans who constituted just 32% of the population.”1

It’s tempting to see these racialized disparities as an American or even UK phenomenon, both countries with longer histories collect data that can disaggregate by race within health care, Canada’s health care system doesn’t. A common Canadian sentiment can be heard in a senior health official’s comment  relayed on CBC radio’s The Current, and on U of T’s news website –  “Canada is a colour-blind society and [we] shouldn’t expect that race-based data is necessary.”2 I beg to differ.

Digging into the weeds reveals unpleasant histories about our institutions and our cultural context as Canadians that dispels this popular narrative. (See links in footnotes 3, and 4 below)

In April 2019, Queen’s University issued a formal apology admitting that it had an official school policy within their medical department restricting Black students from enrolling in med school in order for the university to position higher within the American Medical Association(AMA), the organization that ranks medical schools in North America and better positions them for funding by institutions such as the Carnegie Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Other Canadian Universities- McGill, Dalhousie, and UofT had similar policies.3,4

What was striking about Queen’s was not only their late acknowledgment of the policy but that the ban which was enforced until 1965 was only rescinded in 2018.3,4 Let that sink in for a second…

It’s a comfortable thing for us here in Canada to point to racialized disparities in the US: health-care, wealth gaps, bad policing, and mass incarcerations without examining our own historical and cultural context. In my art practice, I tackle the uncomfortable by reflecting on our legacy of colonization and its effects on African-Canadian culture in the global economy. Through my art, I address the underpinnings of our often messy, and complex social interactions with disarming visual constructs, using creative methods oftentimes predicated on play, and interactivity.

Why is this important – well if we desire a society that treats all of its citizenry with dignity and one that affords everyone a level playing field so that all can compete equitably then we have to demand more from our institutions and of ourselves than the current status quo.  This is my way of doing just that. Through my art practice, and blogging, I endeavor to shed light on pertinent but not widely disseminated histories that may help us better navigate the present.

In a month book-ended by video footages of the senseless murdering of two unarmed Black men – Ahmaud Arbery was intentionally gunned down in Georgia, by a former police officer and his son whose unsubstantiated citizen’s arrest.claim would have gone unchecked by law-enforcement had the recording of the encounter not been leaked several weeks later. Likewise, George Floyd was handcuffed then casually suffocated to death as his arresting officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while faced down on the ground pleading for his life. This incident would have also gone unchecked had it not been for the footage. 

How do these overt abuses of policing(Canada has its cases too) relate to official institutional barriers stifling Black student enrollment in Canadian med schools? They are symptoms of underlying systemic biases that persist only because we Canadians, like our neighbours to the south, may have not seen, may have ignored, or may have dismissed outright the “footages” in the past. This last month we were confronted with not one but two such footages that have stirred many of us. However, all the outpouring of emotions, all the coverage, and the rallying will be for naught if we do not address along with the overt racialized police brutality the more covert indicators of systemic biases and unconscious biases. 

What do I mean? Of the 259 U of T medical school graduates, graduating this year only one, Chika Oriuwa the class valedictorian, is Black.5 As sad as the implications of racialized educational and law enforcement disparities maybe they are far from shocking to us who live it. The lack of Black academic and professional representation in Canadian society is of no surprise to any African Canadian that has gone through the Canadian public school system.

In contrast, my 3 years of living in Los Angeles(by no means a bastion of racial impartiality – read Rodney King beating) in which I pursued a masters degree at UCLA allowed me to come into contact with more Black people in academic and professional roles of authority(doctors, industry directors, professors) than in 18 years of going through the public education system followed by 7 years in the workforce in Canada’s most diverse city. The relative population of Black people in both cities are comparable: 8.7% in Los Angeles in 2010 compared to 8.9% in Toronto in 2016.

To be fair U of T like Queens does seem to be trending in the right direction in large part due to the work of the Black Student Application Program (BSAP).  U of T’s medical schools graduating class of 2022 and 2023  have 14-15 Black candidates, respectively,5 and a historic number – 24 – of incoming Black medical students.6

We’ll never know the countless others, would-be doctors, engineers, architects, professors, etc of African ancestry that have fallen through institutional filters not designed for people that look like Oriuwa or myself.

Choosing to believe that such racialized disparities are just natural occurrences is simply choosing to not look at the “footage,” nor is it asking our institutions and ourselves the uncomfortable questions that will redress Canada’s history of racialized biases.

When the Rain Stops, pictured above, is a print media art installation that presents societal ills, often systematically visited on Black bodies, as vignettes falling like rain droplets or tears on an unlikely and diverse set of characters.  The artwork suggests, like the proverbial saying – This too shall pass – a time when the present rain or tears will give way to joy.

  1. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/2020/04/08/unlike-canadians-americans-at-least-know-how-black-people-are-faring-with-covid-19-very-badly.html
  2. https://www.utoronto.ca/news/covid-19-discriminates-against-black-lives-surveillance-policing-and-lack-data-u-t-experts
  3. https://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/when-black-medical-students-werent-welcome-at-queens/
  4. https://healthsci.queensu.ca/blog/1918-ban-black-medical-students-addressing-our-past-discrimination-promote-diversity-future?fbclid=IwAR3oTIHWl-izQl2b3GbQAESiUk0GAK-VkscQ73y1SCIosRoGtYcoX2lgUe4
  5. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/05/28/the-only-black-medical-student-in-a-u-of-t-class-of-259-chika-oriuwa-graduates-as-valedictorian.html
  6. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=263672978386484

Conceptual Art and the Effect of Words to Shape Imagination and Our Perception

Obama Mask 2010, Interactive Street performance. Art/Text Stephen Fakiyesi, April 23, 2020

We all have our unique lens by which we view and understand the world. And even if you are skeptical that our lenses are all that unique I think we can agree that our lenses are shaped in large part by our genetics, our upbringing, our cultural heritage, and particularly by the personal life choices we make. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates is believed to have made the statement: “The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living.” This is a powerful statement well worth unpacking for any of us not familiar with it.

If you are not new to this website and are familiar with my previous other posts it’s probably not a shock to you that the primary way that I examine and process the world around me is through my visual art practice. What may not be so obvious is the role words and language plays in shaping not only my own, but all of our perception of reality. In a very real sense what we say to ourselves, our inner mono-log, determines our perception of reality.

In a Ted X talk author, Charles Faulkner, poured table salt from one container into two separate clear glass jars, with the only difference being one jar was labeled salt and the other jar was labeled cyanide. Though it was clear to the viewers that both jars contained the same white crystal substance, salt poured out from the same source into equivalent containers; the mere act of labeling one jar cyanide was enough to create a different perception of reality in the viewers’ mind, triggering in many of the onlookers a visceral display of cognitive dissonance leading to a re-evaluation of their underlying beliefs and potentially a change in their behaviour. Something very powerful was happening on a subconscious level in the minds of the viewers. 

Conceptual art, starting with the act of French artist Marcel Duchamp submitting a commercially manufactured urinal, that he titled Fountain, as a work of art in 1917 is art in which the artist’s concerns are first and foremost about the idea(or concept) rather than the finished object. Art by this measure is anything an artist calls art. Which is an idea, like our first illustration, that exposes how reality can be shaped by language and the imagination.

By his gesture, Duchamp was attempting to shift the balance of power as he saw it from the commercial art markets and the art institutions into the hands of the artists themselves by positioning the artists’ imagination as the only measure of value that counted.

Duchamp’s Fountain, submitted and signed under the pseudonym “R Mutt” was at the time rejected by the institutions and a majority of his peers as not being art, the designation it would still hold today were it not for the gradual and now full acceptance of the idea that anything an artist call’s art is art. This is a nod to the primacy of the imagination that even Albert Einstein echoes in his famous saying “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Fountain, of which we have several signed replicas commissioned by the artist several decades after the fact(the initial piece being lost to history, most likely disposed of by the artist himself) is arguably the most significant work of modern art today, and Duchamp’s ideas around art is the dominant perspective among contemporary artists today. The art markets and the art institutions, however, still yield at least as much power and enjoy even more authority than ever before in attributing value and significance to objects and ideas.

As far as I can tell, the art establishment has inevitably co-opted Duchamp’s initial anti-market and anti-institutional stance for their purposes. In the case of the market the motive being profit, and in the case of the institution the motive being influence and control of the narrative. 

So what does all this have to do with my art practice, and more importantly why should we care?

Some of us might remember the scene in the Spike Lee movie Malcolm X when the American Muslim minister and human rights activist is guided in the early days of his conversion to examine the word black and the word white in the English dictionary, and is brought to the realization that the definition of these words are not neutral, as might be assumed but are constructed to reflect and reinforce the existing racialized social-political power structures of the time. Far less of us will be familiar with the similar observation made by Martin Luther King Jr and articulated pointedly in the following MLK quote: 

“Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word Black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister. Look at the word White, it’s always something pure, high and clean. Well I want to get the language right tonight.

I want to get the language so right that everyone here will cry out: ‘Yes, I’m Black, I’m proud of it. I’m Black and I’m beautiful!” 

Consider for a second the implications of the above observation in context with our earlier examples of the power of words to shape our perception. I described earlier how the mere act of labeling a known bottle of salt with the word cyanide challenged peoples’ perception of reality, triggering some people to subconsciously transfer the attributes of the false cyanide label to the actual content of the bottle of salt. Also both the artist Duchamp and the physicist Einstein made a case for the supremacy of the imagination to shape reality. And in the above description, I relayed how over half a century ago MLK demonstrated that the dictionary definition of the word black and the dictionary definition of the word white have been used within our society in a harmful manner to systematically transfer negative attributes to an entire segment of society, Black people, and transfer positive attributes to a different segment of society, White people. 

This is a pretty important if not remarkable observation as it means that textbook definitions do reflect if not shape societal perception. And, if we are to address North America’s social divide, in particular as it pertains to race and ethnicity, our efforts would be largely inadequate if it didn’t address the effect of official language and words to shape, even subliminally, our perception of ourselves and others. This is a radical proposition that paints an even more challenging MLK than the accepted mainstream portrait. 

Selling Obama masks, depicted above, is a documentation of a performance piece, in which I am selling face masks of the President and the First lady of the United States of America, Barack and Michelle Obama, to a random crowd on various street corners days before the 2010 US midterm election.

The election of the first African American president of the United States was to a large extent the culmination of the Civil Rights movement and MLK’s “I have a dream” speech. Selling masks of the likeness of a Black president and a Black first lady was a time-specific conceptual interactive performance. The near-unanimous and enthusiastic reception of the masks by a largely White audience was an optimistic snapshot in time of the broader culture’s desire to embrace a different perception of Blackness, rejecting the implicit negative transfer of attributes embedded in language articulated in authoritative text like the dictionary, and circumventing the historical Western fear of Black gatherings, Black crowds, and Black neighbourhoods.

After all, dawning the mask metaphorically made us all one people. And for an instance that one Black people that we had all metaphorically become in dawning the Obama mask was the embodiment of the most powerful man and the most powerful woman on the planet.     

Given our racialized history, this is a case of cognitive dissonance on a mass scale in a positive direction. 

Play, an Essential Superpower

Text and art by Stephen Fakiyesi, April 10, 2020

There was a time, not too long ago, where making art for me became hard. It was pure labour and not much love and I was getting very little satisfaction from what was mostly failed attempts at producing art pieces of interest. It felt to me like an existential crisis. My identity as an artist was in jeopardy. It was difficult to reconcile the very little artwork I was producing with my identification as an artist. The artistic part of me had died and I had died to art. It was a depressing state to be for one who had envisioned himself an artist for as long as I can remember. What I was failing to connect with, within my art practice, was a sense of play.

Play! That was what it felt like when I was at my most productive, when I was doing my best work of art. The kind of play I remembered from my youth when we had epic neighbourhood wide crab-apple fights, monumental games of dodge ball, hide and seek and other acts of free-play. Sure, making art required work and it is definitely time intensive – I’d easily spend months on pieces and worked 36 hours straight to finish a project. But the time went by fast because it was all play.

According to Dr. Shimi Kang, psychiatrist, author and University of British Columbia professor, play is not only a basic necessity of life, but free play “activates the frontal part of our brain. It stimulates pathways for abstract thinking, emotional regulation, for problem-solving, for strategy. Play makes us comfortable with uncertainty. It makes us take risks and learn from trial and error. Play is how we(as a species) adapt.”

Play restored my passion for art-making. It awakened all kinds of new passions such as writing and the daily habit of drawing. I attribute the successful outcome of much of my creative output to play. According to Peter Gray, Boston University professor, “Play is by definition creative and innovative.” And “The opposite of play, is not work” says medical doctor and author Stuart Brown, “it’s depression.”

So here I am in the above performance piece, “The Trump Challenge,” as my altered ego, Donald B Trump, engaging the community in some civic or community play. As one participant commented in the video “it’s fun.” Which is exactly the point of play. And in addition to fun, we’ve already mentioned that play is creative. In the case of the above performative piece the participants and I are creating a unique public safe-space to explore the complexities of our social-political moment.

Play alters our state of mind and thrusts us into the present. Though it was no surprise that the overwhelming response of the crowd to the Trump Challenge was an eagerness to dunk the sitting president, played by me, even at an out-of-pocket cost of $2 to participants. Being the target of that controlled hostility did produce something quite surprising, a realization and perhaps even empathy that the most powerful man in the world was after-all like the rest of us, just another flawed human being. Having a forum to release all that raw emotion is also the very definition of catharsis.

So play, and not the act of play alone but the altered state it produces can be mined as a creative process, as a working and thinking process in every aspect of our daily lives. The researcher Peter Gray surveyed anthropologists studying hunter-gatherer cultures and discovered that an abundance of daily play was how these societies equipped their young with the skills needed to take on the challenges of adulthood. And that laboratory tests of young rats deprived of play resulted in rats that were crippled by fear and flight responses when confronted with a novel, unfamiliar or slightly frightening situation.

Can you visualize the benefits of adding play into your daily routine and practice? A couple of ways play spills over into my own daily life is in this: As a recent instant father of two teens and one preteen youth we deliberately make time to play board games, games that require our various senses, and we’ve even transformed our dining room table to function part-time as a ping pong table.

So let’s channel our inner child and our natural superpower of play.


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Abstracting, a Superpower for Real

by stephenfakiyesi April 2, 2020

What’s abstracting and why should we consider it a superpower?

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit it, abstracting is not something that comes intuitively for me, at least not in the way I have been conceptualizing it in my mind.

As an artist who uses images or visual language to flesh out ideas, abstracting hasn’t played an obvious nor a large part of my practice when viewed purely as nonrepresentational art-making. Recently, however, I’ve gained immense appreciation for the process of abstracting since gaining further insight and greater clarity as to how early 20th century artists, such as Piet Mondrian, achieved their abstract works evolving it, in his case, from representations of trees in nature to pure geometric abstract canvases. Similarly, scientists of the same period, such as the Nobel prize-winning physicist C.T.R. Wilson, were producing abstract looking documentation of their theories by observing aspects of nature and it’s building blocks, such as the physicist’s photographs of subatomic particles. And though examples of abstraction abound more readily today, there appears to be a lot of confusion and foggy thinking around the processes of abstracting itself.

Of the many less than useful definitions of abstraction I found online: From Wikipedia – “its…a conceptual process…” To Oxford Lexico – “The quality of dealing with ideas rather than events,” or “Something which exists only as an idea,” and “Freedom from representational qualities in art.” And from Cambridge Dictionary “an idea that develops by looking at or thinking about a number of different things.” One online source, Merriam-Webster, had what I thought was a very useful definition of the word abstraction (though it appears to be written more as an aside rather than a primary entry) – “From its roots, abstraction should mean basically ‘something pulled or drawn away’. So abstract art is art that has moved away from painting objects of the ordinary physical world in order to show something beyond it.” Which is, in my opinion, a very useful definition.

For our purposes though, the definition which I’d like us to consider in understanding what abstracting is, is one every bit as useful as the above definition but even more pertinent, derived by me from a chapter entitled “Abstracting” from an amazing book titled “Sparks of Genius” by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein, I’ve paraphrased and put an emphasis on their definition, which is: Abstracting is to simplify an object or an idea to its essential part(s). When done at optimal levels, abstracting not only produces clarity about the subject at hand but is a process that can also uncover fundamental attributes about it. I find this definition which I’ve added the idea of “clarity” to, to be extremely useful as it corresponds with many tangible examples of abstraction, some which are listed below, and opens up rather than shuts out a lot of possibilities for creative exploration.

As already mentioned, abstractions are all around us, though how much abstraction informs our daily life, was not as obvious to me before reading the above book: Everything from body language that transcends cultural boundaries, to someone humming the tune of a popular song, or the summary of a movie you’ve just finished watching, All are examples of abstraction in their own way, as they are stripped down segments of reality. In one case, an isolated body gesture, in another the segment of a memorable piece of music, and still another the distillation of a two-hour feature film into a pithy synopsis.

The point of stripping down gesture, music, a story-line, and the further examples below in this way may not be so obvious at first, and as with other forms of experimentation success can be elusive and is certainly not guaranteed. As the Bernstein’s observe in their book, the essence of abstraction might seem “so basic, so simple that they seem unremarkable.” Yet, “few of us could…devise a new way of portraying perception, develop a new gestural language, or describe a fundamental truth about human feelings. Such triumphs are rare and difficult to achieve.” But are the purvey of the process of abstracting applied at the highest level.

In the publishing field, CliffsNotes, in the US, or Coles Notes, in Canada, and their online equivalents, Youtube book summaries, etc, are abstracts of literary and other written works.

Philosophical, linguistic or literary concepts such as love, purpose, destiny and the like are all abstractions.

All of mathematics and every scientific theory is an abstraction, a simplification of something in reality or, in the case of some mathematical equations, outside of reality.

In the art world there are two competing schools of thought when it comes to abstraction. The modernist (early 20th century) inventors of abstract art viewed as important the formative development of abstraction out of natural and real-world phenomena. Our earlier examples of the French painter Mondrian and the Scottish physicist C.T.R. Wilson are of this school.

While a postmodernist (mid 20th century and beyond) perspective posits an abstraction that is detached from natural and real-world phenomena from the very outset. This approach to abstract art is most common today driven in large part by expediency and market interest. However, I would agree with Picasso, who cautioned other painters, that “To arrive at abstraction, it is always necessary to begin with a concrete reality” As far as I can see the postmodernists perspective of abstraction is giving up a lot in terms of true artistic discovery and innovation so that some artists and collectors can have a quick payday.

In any case, you’re probably wondering why all this matters, and what this all has to do with having superpowers, and what is so wrong with a quick payday anyway?…

Glad you asked. And with regards to the last point just raised, if done ethically, I’d be the last to get in the way of someone else’s “quick payday.” Besides, art is a tough enough gig without us creating obstacles for each other and throwing shade on each other’s motives.

But because you asked, this is why it matters to me… First – I pride myself in being open to reexamining and changing my thinking where it makes sense and especially when there are clear benefits to doing so. The idea that abstracting is a way of simplifying an object or an idea to its essential parts and possibly uncovering fundamental attributes about it is an idea I find holds great creative possibilities.

The picture above(on the left) is the north and east-facing walls of my kitchen cum work station. The north wall, as in other parts of my small house apartment, is covered in light blue swatches of colour, reminiscent of abstract Colour Field paintings from the ’40s and ’50s. It’s a hue of blue that’s calming to the eyes leaving me more energized than the more glaring off-white walls of the remainder of the house.

The top right picture is of an interactive art installation entitled “Shooting Gallery.” In this art piece the background field of red and white stripes is all the abstraction that is needed for the sensation of being at a carnival.

Granted these are just my preliminary experimentation with abstracted forms and I can’t foretell how big a role it will play in my practice going forward. But beyond this, I’m an avid reader of books, and am stoked by the possibilities of life long learning, and my recent discovery of the world of YouTube book reviews, a literary form of abstraction. Wow, what an amazing tool to help us plow through a pile of content in minutes as opposed to days, enhancing our overall picture of things, and identifying and clarifying the books we ought to take a more in-depth look at. I consider having near-instant access to all of history’s knowledge in a matter of minutes, the amount of time it takes to process an online book abstract, a superpower.

Still not convinced abstracting is a superpower? Let me leave you with this example: Olafur Eliasson is an artist featured on season 2 episode 1 of a Netflix series called, appropriately enough, Abstract, who has pushed this idea of abstracting to some stunning heights. One of his art installation, the Weather Project, which displayed at the Tate Modern in London, simulates the sensation of a miniaturized sun within the museum walls. The art piece eliminates from the environment all but two colours, yellow and black, the polarizing effect of employing mono-frequency lamps. “Drawing attention,” as it states on the Tate website, “to the fundamental act of perceiving the world around us.” The result is, in short, mesmerizing! Like flies drawn to light.

Now how is that for tapping into a superpower!


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Harness Your Superpower of Observation

Text and drawing by Stephen Fakiyesi Tuesday, March 24, 2020

This may come as a surprise to many reading this blog but we all have superpowers. Superpowers that we can harness if we know how to tap into them. One of those superpowers is the power of observation. And one of the surest ways of harnessing our powers of observation is through the practice of detailed drawing…

Ok, I know you’re probably thinking that’s easy for me to say, ’cause I’m an artist and all. Which is true…though the sad reality is, up until the last two months or so I haven’t drawn or painted an image in about five or six years, a period in my life when I was on a six months artist residency in London England. Technically, I did do some architectural floor plan drawings two years ago back in early 2017 for a house I was renovating in Parkdale just west of downtown Toronto if that counts (a small confession here – the reality of being a visual artist in Toronto or any city in Canada, for that matter, usually involves one or two other side hustles. Those side hustles are better known as full time jobs and part jobs, you get the point).

As a conceptual artist, whose practice is more about ideas that can be articulated in any number of ways not having to do with drawing or painting, my artistic research usually involves reading, lived experiences, and lately digitally documenting myself (or having someone else document me) in a performative act or some other form of activity.

So, sadly I haven’t been in the habit of drawing, as I once was, way back in high school or possibly as an undergrad, that is, up until recently.

What has changed? Well, like a youth who has rediscovered how much fun getting on a bike can be after several years of not biking, I’ve rediscovered how liberating drawing can be and more to the point I’ve discovered how drawing gives us access to a superpower that we can all tap into. And like the act of running or writing, anyone can do it.

Ok, I’m not promising you’ll become the next Davinci or Picasso, but with some practice you’ll not only get better at it, but you’ll also improve your powers of observation, increase your focus and you might even get into a creative zone or flow that will generate creativity in other aspects of your life or career as well…

In short, 15 minutes of unobstructed detailed drawing a day and you can tap into a superpower that you may not have known you had!

Some tips that you might find helpful before beginning:

To create a habit of drawing or a habit of anything else for that matter, mentally link it to an existing habit that you already have, such as consuming your morning news, or brushing your teeth.

Find a private or low traffic space where you can draw without interruption or eyes peering over your shoulders.

15 minutes might seem too short a time, but it’s important to commit to a short duration of time that you know you can accomplish. It can even be less than 15 minutes. The point is to make it easy enough to become a habit.

Prepare the image or the object you are going to draw before hand. I’ve been taking pictures of my face on my cell phone and drawing self portraits.

It’s important to silence your inner critic, you’re not trying to make a “good” drawing, whatever your idea of what a “good” drawing may be. You are just trying to render in as detailed fashion as you can what you see before you. That requires no judgment and lots of concentration.

It’s important to be consistent. I’m not too sure what the percentage is but missing one day of a routine (whichever way you measure your routine, be it daily, every other day, weekly, etc) is not too much of a big deal, but miss a routine twice in a row and your odds of making a habit of it greatly diminishes.

It’s also important that you suspend disbelief. In other words, telling yourself you can’t do something even subliminally is a self-fulfilling prophesy and bound to sabotage any potential for success. So try going into this new routine with an open mind and channel your inner Davinci, Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Jean Michel Basquiat, or whichever artist inspires you.

The following link is a TEDx talk by Stephen Duneier that I believe makes a good case that if you can successfully draw a simple gray square than you have the tools to draw anything at a super high level. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQMbvJNRpLE

Here’s to harnessing our superpower!


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