36 ways to draw a tree :: a perspective on finding your own answers

36 ways to draw a tree

Lately I’m noticing two things happening. On the one hand, I see a lot of people offering formulas and blueprints as ways to do things, and on the other, I’m seeing a kind of gentle pushing back that recognises that no one else’s formula or blueprint is going to be our ultimate solution. This includes formulas for business, for self care, and for approaches to life, spirituality and creativity.

In my own life this gentle push back is looking like less and less self help/spiritual books {other than for pure interest or reminders}, less devouring of blog posts or biz websites or downloads that I secretly hope are going to solve my issue or reveal the magic way I haven’t thought of yet, and more interest and faith in finding my own answers.

It’s an interesting shift, especially since ‘my way’ often seems to be counterintuitive and not really what ‘everyone else’ is doing.

I am not suggesting that formulas and blueprints are without use or value to more than one person; of course not. I sometimes offer suggestions for ways to do things myself; we all need an in, and I for one love to research and discover new perspectives. But I do believe they will only take us so far, and to pin our hopes on them being ‘it’ is to set ourselves up for disappointment, and that can lead to giving up on ourselves and our dreams. Risky!

A little exercise in finding your own way

A while back I sat down and challenged myself to come up with as many ways to draw a tree as would fill my sketchbook page, just for fun. I drew a grid and the resulting spaces allowed for 36 trees. I worked fairly fast and didn’t look for inspiration beyond my own imagination.

I actually thought it would be quite hard; 36 seemed like a lot! So I was surprised to come to the final box and feel I could have done more.

I love this exercise for several reasons:

1. On a practical level it’s simple, portable and needs very little materials {although you can of course go all out if you wish}

2. It’s a challenge that you can easily ‘win’ at, thus bolstering confidence and satisfaction

3. It’s flexible – any subject or medium will do

4. It’s meditative, encouraging focus and quieting of the mind

5. It could easily prompt further ideas

6. {The big kahuna!} It shows that not only do we have more inside us than we might assume, but that that ‘more’ is actually endless

So I’m not suggesting you sit down and do as I did, although you can of course if it sounds interesting! I seek only to demonstrate and remind that there is more inside each of us than any of us have even the tiniest inkling about, and yet so many of us – myself included – regularly discount, disbelieve or are afraid to turn inward and see for ourselves.

What if you take a sketchbook or piece of paper and draw something 36/78/100 times in different ways? What if instead of procrastinating with social media or food or whatever your distraction of choice, you ask yourself what YOU would do about a given situation, if all fear was brushed aside for a minute? I’m willing to bet that even a few minutes of focus will surprise you. You contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman might remind you.

What do you think? Will you take up the challenge and make it your own? How might you feel with proof that there is more inside you than you think?


Creative Spark Ecourse The Creative Spark ecourse is now available as a self paced course! But since doing these things alone can be hard for maintaining momentum, when you sign up you become automatically eligible to join the private Facebook group for all my course participants. This is the perfect opportunity to discover what creative depths lie inside you, alongside other kindred curious creative souls.

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  • Deb Dane says:

    Love this exercise. I think I will do this when I am flying to NYC as I can do endless subjects in my sketchbook. Great!

    Ps have not forgot I owe you feedback etc xxxx

  • Nela says:

    Amazing exercise, I’ll definitely try it out today! (I love drawing trees and they often creep up in my work, so yeah.. :))

    I totally fall into the same “category” of having a really hard time getting success with other people’s blueprints. And my rebellious nature sure isn’t helping!

    The problem is, I started adopting this viewpoint and started creating blueprints and tips that “should” work for others behind they work for me, and then when I caught myself doing it, I scrapped the project and started over.

    Thank you for sharing this, I think it’s very important.

    P. S. The working title of my book has “Creative Spark” in it, and then I saw your program title, and another few programs that have it, and I’m like whaaa? I suppose I need a new name now :D

    • Tara says:

      Great Nela, would love to see how that works out for you! It’s funny, I think many of us feel the push pull of wanting answers and swinging in and out of looking outside and inside ourselves. Since we are all joined, it makes sense in a way to offer each other solutions; I believe the key is always inside but that doesn’t mean we can’t help and support each other towards finding it.

      Regarding Creative Spark – not exactly my most original moment! It just kind of happened for me, but I certainly don’t own the phrase so go ahead and use it if it makes sense to your work!

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