Visual Inspiration - David Byrne's Arboretum
I have fallen in love with drawing trees. There is a Doodle & Flow practice in the Find Your Joy miniCourse that asks you to draw trees.
Most of the time when I draw trees, I show what the world sees above ground and what they don't see below ground. As an introvert, I have a rich interior life that other people don't see... some of them intuitively sense it, but it really isn't visible. Oftentimes my inner world isn't even visible to me until I draw it. Other times, I draw what brings joy and happiness to my life (above ground) and what I must do to nourish and sustain those things (below ground). Here's a sample:
My inspiration for drawing trees comes from singer / songwriter / creative human David Byrne's book Arborteum. I found the book years ago while browsing the shelves of Powell's Books in Portland. I was teaching experiential education at the time and was doing a lot of doodling and journaling to cope with the intensely social experience of living and working with other people 24/7 for 100 days in a row.
The brief glimpse at Byrne's book - drawing what we see above ground and what lurks beneath - was a strong metaphor for my experience of being constantly around people but also feeling lonely and disconnected from them at the same time. My role as a professor on the field semester I was teaching had me constantly answering student questions, guiding them in their learning, and facilitating conversations, but couldn't connect with them as peers. So I felt lonely.
After leaving the bookstore, I was sad that I hadn't bought the book, but my life moved on so I couldn't return to get it. Several years ago I learned that the book was reprinted and I quickly ordered a copy. It has become a favorite source of inspiration... not only does Byrne let his mind wander throughout his sketchbook but he invites us to look at what grows there - above and below ground.
A few pages from Arboretum:
Have you woken up in the middle of the night because your mind was racing through your busy to do list? And then drifted peacefully off to sleep after you wrote the list on a notepad beside your bed?
If so, this post is for you...
I have been keeping a journal, diary, or sketchbook for the past 30 years. Over that time, I've learned to use doodling and writing to shift the speed of my thinking depending on what life requires of me. There are times when my brain is moving slowly and I can't get motivated to work on a writing project, so I sketch out what I am going to say - not outline what I am going to say, but doodle a picture of what I am going to say - and my mind warms up Other times my mind is racing so fast that I can't think deeply enough to solve a client's problem, so I clear the chatter by writing quickly or making lists. I use this process, which I call Doodle & Flow, daily to meet life's challenges.
Recently I have started sharing the process of Doodle & Flow with colleagues and friends. Because much of my own learning has come from personal writing, that's where we're starting. Together we are building a community of creatively curious people who want to shape their own thinking to quickly generate new ideas, thoughtfully consider their lives, cultivate stronger relationships, and live intentionally. I can't wait to share the doodles that these amazing humans are creating and the insights that are emerging for them. Stay tuned for Doodle & Flow... coming July 20th.
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I enjoy strategic visioning. It brings me a lot of joy to unroll a clean sheet of paper, pull out my markers, and use my listening, drawing, and improv skills to help a group see their future more clearly.
Recently, I was asked to speak at the 1st Annual Northern Arizona Center for Nonprofit Entrepreneurship Conference, which was hosted by Northern Arizona University, Moonshot, and your Part Time Controller. It was attended by dozens of nonprofit leaders, so I used this as an opportunity to share my love of working visually with a talented audience.
Sometimes the most effective tools are the simplest, which is why I keep coming back to visual timelines for strategic planning. Visual timelines allow a groups to see where they have been and envision where they are going. They allow a team to celebrate their recent successes and study recent failures, so they can set realistic goals for the next few years. Visual timelines are a valuable map of the orgnizational landscape that meeting participants refer to throughout the planning process.
After we draw a historical timelines during a strategic planning session, I like to ask the meeting participants to describe the future of their organization for me. This is a bluesky conversation. A brainstorming session. Then I draw their vision as quickly as they speak, so they see their ideas unfold. Once we have a sketch of the future, we discuss the big ideas and set priorities. Future priorities become future goals and an implementation plan. For some organizations the implementation plan is a concrete, step-by-step plan and others it is just a promise to follow the vibe that takes them towards their goals.
What are the steps to create a visual timeline?
Note: If the thought of drawing in front of a group scares you, you can always pre-print clip art or bring magazines that are relevant to your organization. Use scissors and glue to have fun creating a timeline collage.
Of course, you are also welcome to email me for support. I love to draw and have assistance available for non-profit organizations who can't otherwise afford my services.
Angie B. Moline
Dr. Moline is an ecologist and visual process facilitator who draws pictures to help clients think. She is currently on a quest to understand why live drawings are so compelling and how to make them as sticky as possible in order to improve communication, understanding, and memory. Follow here journey here!