Drawing Your Way to Your Dreams

As a lifelong insomniac, I decided to make a sketch of me sleeping peacefully in the future ūüôā

What if I told you your ideal future starts with a single drawing?

That’s exactly what Patti Dobrowolski suggests in her TED talk “Draw Your Future.” ¬†She says that if you draw the reality that you want, your brain will find a way to make it happen.

Don’t worry about whether you are good at drawing. ¬†Just make the sketch specific to exactly what you want your future to look like. ¬†Remember to draw yourself happy ūüôā ¬†And then color your drawing in with vibrant colors. ¬†Because the more vivid the picture, the better your brain will respond.

The key is to follow these three steps: see it, believe it, and then act on it.

This technique isn’t just for individuals, like artists and entrepreneurs, either. ¬†Big name companies are using this method to get their employees motivated to find solutions for team projects. ¬†It brings new meaning to the phrase “Two heads are better than one.”

What does your future look like?  Draw it and find out!

Quote for the Day: Happiness

We all want to be happy.  The pursuit of happiness is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.  Will Smith even starred in a movie about it.  But what does it really mean to be happy?

I recently watched a TED Talk that offered another model for this ideal.

“The happiness of pursuit”

Instead of always trying to accomplish something in order to find happiness, we might want to consider finding happiness as we try to accomplish something.

Shawn Achor says in his talk entitled The Happy Secret to Better Work,¬†“Every time your brain has a success,¬†you just changed the goalpost of what success looked like.¬†You got good grades, now you have to get better grades,¬†you got into a good school and after you get into a better one,¬†you got a good job, now you have to get a better job,¬†you hit your sales target, we’re going to change it.¬†And if happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there.”

So go after what you want.  But instead of viewing happiness as a destination, see if you can find happiness along the way.


Spring Sumi-e Sketches

Notebooks of the Mind

I came across an interesting concept while reading an article in the SCBWI Bulletin called “Jotting Things Down” by Anne Sibley O’Brien.¬† She referenced a term called “Notebooks of the Mind,” which¬†I just thought sounded so cool!¬† And mysterious.¬† But what¬†does¬†it mean?¬† Did you ever keep a journal or diary growing up?¬†¬†Or what about when you had that great¬†thought or idea while standing in line at the grocery store or sitting¬†at¬†a restaurant and you had to¬†scribble it down on a napkin so you didn’t forget it.¬†¬†All of these scribbles and sketches cumulate into “Notebooks of the Mind” or windows into our soul.¬† A lot of it seems meaningless at the time, and truthfully, much of it may never amount to anything tangible.¬† But it’s fodder.¬† Fuel for that project you’re envisioning or maybe something else yet to be discovered.¬† And when you go back to it, it’s like walking through a museum of memories, which is also fun.

If you’re not convinced of the importance of jotting things down, remember this:¬† “Creativity did not descend like a bolt of lightning that lit up the world in a single brilliant flash.¬† It came in tiny steps, bits of insight, and incremental changes.¬† Zigs and zags.¬† When people followed those zigs and zags, ideas and revelations started flowing.”¬† -Keith Sawyer, author of Zig Zag

Benjamin Franklin didn’t just get hit by lightning.¬† He kept notebooks, too.

I have my own journals at home.¬† 20 or so of them, actually, collected over the years–consisting of poem fragments, stray thoughts, jumbled up text, old ticket stubs, magazine collages,¬†scratches, and sketches.¬† Some of it will never see the light of day, but¬†it’s useful nonetheless.¬† My small treasures.¬† The Notebooks of¬†MY Mind.

What’s going on in my brain?¬† Here’s a sneak peek, circa 2003.

notebook of my mind

Now, I want to know, what’s going on in yours?


Partner Sketching at Detcon

my sketch

Over the summer, I attended the North American Science Fiction Convention in Detroit.  What a blast!  During a drawing workshop, we were asked to pair up with another artist and practice sketching each other.  Part of the challenge of such an exercise is that the person you are drawing is not facing you the entire time, so you really have to concentrate on getting details down while you can see them.  You almost have to take a mental snapshot.

I thought it would be fun to include both the sketch I did of my partner and a photo of the sketch she did of me.  Afterwards, as we were talking, we realized that we had both quickly identified one feature about the other that we wanted to focus on.  The identifying feature that we felt we just had to get right.  For her, I wanted to capture her interesting nose.  For me, she said she was drawn to my big eyes.  You can see how people create characterizations this way.

Enjoy!  (especially on this particularly gloomy Friday)

sketch by Lisa J. Schmidt





The Art of Subtraction

Don’t worry, there’s no math involved here!¬† In a previous post, I mentioned that I had the opportunity to take a class with famed author/illustrator Floyd Cooper.¬† He¬†taught us the art of using negative space to create a painting.¬†¬†His well-known technique involves painting a surface first and then wiping¬†it away with a¬†kneaded eraser until an image appears.¬† If it¬†sounds a little bit magical, that’s because it is.¬† Especially¬†when you watch him do it for the first time and¬†then see the amazing results in just a few short minutes right before your eyes.¬† You feel like you’re watching a magician perform a magic trick.¬† But in taking the class I realized it comes down to some of the most basic elements of drawing.¬† Working with shapes and blocking out space.¬† Only in this case, you start with the negative space and work backwards.¬†¬†I think the organic nature of it is somewhat freeing.¬† You don’t have to¬†stare at that dreaded¬†white¬†paper in a total panic trying to figure out where to begin.¬†¬†Of course, part of the reason¬†Cooper makes it look so easy is because he’s been practicing¬†this technique for¬† a long time, so he’s got it down to a near science.¬† A highly creative science that is ūüėČ

Here are some of my attempts at¬†using this technique.¬† The first¬†two use charcoal (an old favorite of mine, though messy).¬† The last one¬†uses paint, similar to what Cooper uses.¬† I was not able to finish it at the conference.¬† Later I found that the¬†dried paint was hard to remove, so I¬†added charcoal.¬†¬†But this is also in keeping with Cooper’s style.¬† He showed us that sometimes you can¬†start by initially subtracting¬†to create¬†light and shadow.¬† Then add in contour lines¬†to create¬†definition.

You can practice this style with writing, as well.  One of my favorite exercises for creating a poem involves starting with an old magazine article and then blocking out portions of the text with a black marker until you create something new.

How can you practice the art of subtraction in your art?  Writing?  Life?  Please share!

Goodbye Summer… Hello Fall :-)

To celebrate the end of summer, I’ve included a sketch I did almost 12 years ago (where does the time go?) while at my favorite Michigan lake with one of my best friends.¬† Looking at it reminds me of long swims, picnics at the beach, and summertime.¬† I recently gave the picture to my friend as a gift.¬†¬†The best memories are shared ūüôā

Fall officially begins Tuesday, September 23.¬† What do you plan to do on the last days of summer?¬† Or have you already welcomed the fall weather that’s slowly creeping in?¬† I’m personally hoping for one more swim!¬† But I have to admit, my husband and I have also already been to the cider mill¬†three times!¬† I guess I love summer and fall.¬† Now winter, especially Michigan winter, that’s another story…


Scottie Dog Sketch

Scottie Dog

brush pens

Frolicking Frogs Sketch

brush pens

brush pens

Sketching at the National Gallery in D.C.




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