By Ellen Bari
I was not quite three when my mother was invited to sub for a kindergarten teacher who was out on maternity leave. She took me along for the six-month ride, as I guess she imagined it could only be positive for me to be amongst older kids, in a learning environment. I have a few vague, happy memories from that time, but there is one experience that I might not remember as well, had it not become part of the family mythology. It seems that on more than one occasion, one of the ‘big boys’ attacked my artistic talents. He would come up to my easel, survey my artwork, and say: You Scribble Scrabble! Apparently, each time I was crushed. Had I known that years later Whitney Ferre, Creatively Fit founder, would use scribbles as a technique for reaching The Artist Within, the title of her book, the sting of this boy’s insult may have been minimized.
Recently, Whitney proved the power of her technique to an intimate group of not-just moms at the delightful Linger Cafe and Lounge in Brooklyn. The event, Creatives and Cocktails, co-presented with Momasphere and Melissa Anne Colors, gave us a chance to see for ourselves how a scribble on a page can shut down the left brain, making room for the right brain and the silenced artist within. Though as children, we seem to have a natural ability to make art without judgement, with age, an unfortunate and often cruel, internal critic squelches our ability to put crayon to paper and just let it flow.
The process on Friday night was collaborative- we each started by making a blind scribble on a piece of blank paper. We then passed our pages to the person to our left, who added their own ‘scribbles’ and continued this process until the original pages came back to us. We analyzed the new creations, came up with five words to describe them, and spent a few minutes writing about what they might mean to us. As we subsequently shared our ‘drawings’ and personal reflections with the group, the results were almost eerie. A number of participants felt strongly that there was a resonant and highly personal message in the image that had emerged.
As a devotee of the Artist’s Way’s Morning Pages, I am intrigued by the notion that daily drawing, or ‘exercising that muscle’ as Whitney puts it, is another way to tap into one’s creative center. As Whitney explained, her programs are not about making everyone into an artist, but rather they offer tools to help create change on any level.
During the networking time before the activity, the diverse group of women and men, entrepreneurs, moms, and even a manny, shared our various creative journeys. I had an opportunity to talk about my process in creating Jumping Jenny, my new picture book that empowers kids to follow their passion to make a difference in the world. Whitney and I swapped books, and I look forward to seeing how I can integrate her drawing process with my Morning Pages practice. I also discovered an insanely beautiful garden behind the Linger Cafe- a spot worthy of an evening cocktail now that spring is actually here!