Picking up Shiny Objects

Artists are like bower birds.

They pick up shiny things, and spend time with them.

They pick up objects and make artwork about them.
They pick up ideas and turn them into stories.
They pick up techniques and run with them.

One or Many?

Some people say it’s best to concentrate on just one thing, work hard, then one day you’ll be successful.

I say if you haven’t tried many things, how will you know what you’ll be successful in.
I say when you’re doing something you enjoy; it doesn’t feel like hard work.
I say that ‘one day’ is about living in the future. It needs to be about today.

One day never comes.

When I started out, I thought I’d only be a ‘proper’ artist once I’d had my first exhibition. It happened. I felt no different. One day I would paint ten paintings, I thought. Yep. One day I would win a prize. Yep. One day I would win twenty prizes. Two hundred prizes. Yep. Yep. There’s always more, even thirty years on. I am a ‘proper’ artist now, but I was at the beginning too; I just didn’t believe it.

I’m happiest when I’m creating.

When I’m making things, my life has meaning. And not just making art, being creative everywhere – collecting some rocks, doodling a get-well card, icing a cake, gardening.

Don’t wait for one day. Don’t settle for one thing.

Notice the shiny objects that make your heart sing. Try them all. They don’t need to be huge, nor do you need to be hugely skilled. It just needs to make you happy.

Try this at home - Practicing Randomness

At the library

Choose a book based on its shelf position. E.g. the fifth book, second shelf. Or the third red book. Or choose author’s beginning with A, then B.


On your daily walk

Take only left or right turns. Walk faster or slower at certain street lights or signs. Notice all the straight lines you see. Tomorrow, notice the curves. Drive to a new starting point, walk in a new area. (Check the map first, and take your phone).


Eating out
Go to a new restaurant or café.
Order something you’ve never had.

Next time try something different.


Even small experiments with making random choices is fun.


Watching how we choose one activity or object over another, and practicing taking small risks, trains us to make more serious choices out in the real world.

First Published

St Carthages Home Care quarterly magazine "Life!"Summer 2019
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