Creative Challenges – Season 3

Kathryn PooleDocument your Commute

Walk a section of your commute.

Document what you see; make notes, take photos, etc.

Try to identify what you see – Kathryn would go home and look up the names of birds she came across and couldn’t identify.

Really engage with this environment that you would normally overlook.


Charlie Hoehn – Record Your Play History

Spent 5-10 minutes journalling about what you remember doing while growing up, for fun. What did you “repeatedly and voluntarily do for fun that no one was making you do?”

When it was just you being you.

Make a list. See if you can incorporate some of those things into at least 30 mins. of your week this week.

Some of Charlie’s play history includes: making people laugh, playing catch, building and fixing things…..


Yesim Kunter – Tickling your Mind

This is a really fun challenge that you can do anywhere. It provides an opportunity to practice a different perspective.

“The way you look through your minds eye is the crucial piece. Whatever lens you [choose], you will see that. I try to see funny things.”

Look at your surroundings as if for the very first time. Forget what you know about them.

Find something really funny, humorous and magical in what you are seeing or experiencing. Yesim gives the examples of trees sticking in the ground, but not falling over, and a beautiful flower magically emerging from a bare stem.

You can see how I responded to Yessim’s challenge here.


Mary Robinette Kowal – Cross-pollinate by writing a bit of fan fiction

Pick a ‘property’ (a book, world, universe, etc.) that you just want to spend more time in.

There are 2 variations:

  • take characters from that world and transport them into another world (ie Harry Potter into the world of James Bond)
  • transport yourself or your own, original characters, into the world that you have chosen

Either way, do some ‘cross-pollination’. Don’t worry about writing a full scene, about having a beginning, middle, and end. Just let these characters out to have some fun.

(Jeremiah’s note: How would this translate into other media? Could you take an existing idea/motif and insert into a pre-existing artwork? ie. how would your idea cross-pollinate with a pot made by Kate Malone, or inserted into Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’? Is there another way to interpret this? I’d love to see what you come up with! Send me an image on instagram @practicalcreative.)


Dr. Mike Rucker – Keep a time log for 168 hours

For one week (168 hours), write down what you are doing for each hour. (Mike has created a spreadsheet that you can use – download it here.)

Go back through those hours and label each one with one of Mike’s 4 categories (or you can use your own).

Mike’s categories are:

  • Pleasing (fun, low challenge)
  • Living (fun, rewarding, and challenging)
  • Yielding (like zoning out in front of the TV)
  • Agonizing (tasks that you really dislike)

Go through your week again, and look for ways to increase the time spent in the ‘Pleasing’ and ‘Living’ categories, and reducing the ‘Yielding’ and ‘Agonizing’ activities.

I.e. Would paying an accountant for 1 hour to do your taxes result in giving you back 6 hours of studio time? Would a car pool for the school run on alternate days offer up more time for something else? Would an assistant/apprentice free up time to focus on the elements of your practice that you really enjoy?


Sandy Brown – Practice ’empty mind’ making and acceptance in 30 minutes

Materials: clay, timer, camera.

Set the timer for 30 minutes. In that time, make 30 figures – without planning. Empty your mind. Let your hands lead.

Photograph each figure individually, and work to accept them.

Finally, keep them. Don’t thrown them away.

“if you genuinely don’t know what you’re doing, and you haven’t planned it…then it’s valid. It’s not only valid, it’s sacred.

The danger here is to pre-plan. When Sandy sets a challenge like this on her course, she never states what it is that the students are making until the moment she starts the timer.

“it’s basically just trusting that whatever happens is okay – something interesting will happen.”