#14 QofR: Metaphor – My Eureka Moment!

After Elaine Igoe’s lecture on Tuesday 1st November I was left with this sentence lingering in my head and kept trying to apply it to my question:

‘Use METAPHOR to give yourself new and interesting ways of seeing things.’

It wasn’t until the next evening, after the ‘Creative Block’ workshop that I held at The Art House, that I suddenly realised, at about 11 o’clock at night, how well this method of using metaphor works and that I could relate the question to my own practice…finally!



On the First of November I started a monthly challenge using the book ‘Creative Block’ by Danielle Krysa. I really enjoyed taking part in Inktober and so I thought I should motivate myself to create everyday, no excuses! November will be a Creative ‘unBlock’ challenge, completing 30 of the 50 unBlock projects. Each unBlock project is given by a different artist because it’s somthing they do to get through their own creative blocks. I am posting my results each day on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. This challenge subverts my practice, forcing me to do draw, paint, print, sew or write every day for 30 days. I believe that it will help to develop my creativity by improving my artistic ability through regular practice, experimentation and exploration.

creative_block_9781452118888_large‘I came up with the idea for CREATIVE BLOCK for myself, just as much as for all of you. I wanted to make something beautiful – a contemporary art book filled not only with inspiring images, but also inspiring words, advice, and tips to help amateurs and professionals alike, find their way through those days when the ideas just won’t come. Because everyone who dabbles in something creative {writers, musicians, actors, artists} feels that way at some point – right? Right. I wanted to write this book to show you that if you’re feeling this way you’re not alone either. I’ve written hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts about successful, working artists who seem to have this whole “creative thing” figured out. But surely they have blocks from time to time? How do they get through them? Where do they find fresh inspiration? How do they handle negative feedback? Does it stop them in their tracks? Now, these full time artists don’t have the luxury of not finishing, or giving up on a project – not when they’ve got a gallery or art buyer waiting on them! So how do they push themselves through those moments when the ideas just aren’t there? Or when the ideas are there, but their hands or materials will not cooperate.’ – Danielle Krysa

On Wednesday 2nd November 2016 I ran a ‘Creative Block’ workshop at The Art House Cafe for adults:

I was inspired by some of the ‘Unblock’ projects from the artist’s in Krysa’s book for this session.

The workshop was structured as follows:

cbworkshopWrite a subject to draw on a piece of paper i.e a cat, a house, a chair etc. then fold it up and put it in the hat.

Each person picks one of these from the hat, making sure they don’t get their own of course!

They have 10 minutes to draw that subject in pen, no pencils or rubbers allowed.

After 10 minutes I ordered them to screw their work up into a ball and throw it behind them onto the floor. Some of them gladly did as they were told because they weren’t pleased with their work, and the others were much more reluctant, including one who looked genuinely angry/upset with me that I was forcing her to screw up her lovely drawing of a unicorn.

The next task was to draw the same subject again for 5 minutes…but this time I told them that they would definitely be throwing this one away, so don’t worry about what it looks like. The class seemed much more relaxed and free to experiment a little, changing the way they drew the subject. One participant said ‘Well if it’s going to go in the bin anyway I may as well draw the elephant in there!’ and so proceeded to draw an elephant’s trunk coming out of the ‘trash’! Another participant drew a fire place, whereas the first drawing was of a camp fire. Most added a little colour, more detail and everyone finished the drawing in 5 minutes! With the knowledge that they would be throwing this drawing away, the class were much more playful, creative and confident; not worrying so much about what the picture looked like and even bringing a bit of humour into the situation.

The next task was to draw the same subject for the third time – this time they would NOT be throwing the drawing away. I gave them 10 minutes to complete this. Afterwards I told the group to pass their drawing to the person on their right. Each person would then work on a drawing for 3 minutes and then pass it along until they worked their way back to their owners. The results were fantastic, if a little dark in some areas! This was a real demonstration of how we are still able to play, doodle and experiment like we did when we were children. However this only seemed to work in a scenario where the piece you were working on wasn’t your own and the atmosphere was very relaxed and fun with a huge range of ages and abilities. No one was worried about what others would think of their drawing, there was an element of anonymity to each persons additions as the drawings made their way around, there was no place for failure – just fun, and if anything an air of competition to see who could create the funniest and most outrageous doodles…the subject became part of a narrative that took shape as it was passed from person to person.

So the question is, why do we feel we are unable to have this much fun when it comes to our own work? We need to give ourselves permission to play! We loose that confidence and sense of adventure at a very young age…it gets replaced with pencils, rubbers and rulers and everything has to be perfect because you won’t get the A+ or the gold star! Why are we so scared to fail?

In what ways have I used subversion in order to help develop creativity?

– Implementing rules and restrictions – putting limitations on time, materials and subject matter forces the class to ‘just go for it!’ No opportunity to rub anything out, start again or spent too long getting it ‘perfect’. Even if the participants didn’t like the subject matter there was no choice!

– Instructing participants to throw away their drawings or allowing others to add to their pieces forced the class to relinquish control, nothing to loose so might as well have fun and be creative and original.

The final task was to draw yourself as an animal, thinking about which animal best suits your personality traits and/or appearance. This part of the workshop was more relaxed as participants had 45 minutes to complete this. I asked them to explain to me why they had chosen that animal and to think about how they could manipulate or exaggerate features in order to add character and expression. After the first few tasks I think the group had warmed up well and seemed to enjoy drawing their animals using a wide range of materials. They were allowed pencils and rubbers this time but didn’t use them much – I think their confidence has grown!

CLICK HERE to see all photographs from this session on my Daff Workshops facebook page!


Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa

After buying Danielle Krysa’s book ‘Creative Block’ for my Major Project proposal, I bought her most recent title ‘Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk (and other truths about being creative)’. The 10 chapters reveal how we can accept these truths about being creative in order to move forward, be productive and make good work:



  1. Everyone Is Creative
  2. Excuses Are the Enemy
  3. Labels Are for Canned Peaches, Not People
  4. Blank Paper Can Be Blinding
  5. A Green Eye is  a Green Light
  6. Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk
  7. No One Can Wrestle the Pencil Out of Your Hand
  8. Failure Leads to Genius
  9. Creating a Vacuum Sucks
  10. Blocks Are Meant to be Broken


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