Cut That Out Creativity Warm-Up

Part of the value of a creativity ritual is not having to think about the ritual itself. You know what’s expected, and you do it. I can do the Simple Shapes collage warm-up day after day after day and get the desired results. But then, I’m also happy eating peanut butter toast for breakfast every morning.

You might want a bit more variety. So for your benefit (not because I was stalling the other morning), here’s a riff on Simple Shapes I call Cut That Out. You’ll need:

  • a timer
  • a magazine from the recycle bin
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • sketch book

Here’s what you do.

Time. Set the timer for 6 minutes.

Rip. Tear out the first page from the magazine where there’s a large shape with a fairly well defined outline. This sample used the left side of a two-page spread showing a woman in a polka-dot dress.

Cut. Following that outline, cut out the shape.

Hack. Hack toward the center of the shape and cut out a circle (or other simple shape of your choice). Quickly cut the rest of the shape into three pieces.

Rearrange. Working quickly, make as many different arrangements as you can using the circle and the three other pieces deconstructed from the shape you cut out. I find it helps to give myself prompts like, “dancing animal”, “mythical creature” or “alien landscape.” Spend about 5 minutes making different arrangements.

Poodle Polka

Glue. When the timer goes off, glue your final arrangement into your sketch book.

Name it. Give this composition a name or title.

Cheats. Use fewer than the four pieces you cut out, if you like.

Running Basket

Or allow yourself to add one element to complete your final composition.

Derby Day — Headless
Derby Day — With Head

You can even cheat an take a quick digital photo of any arrangement that strikes your fancy (applique design? digital fabric? transfer element?…). But then keep moving the pieces around until the timer goes off.

Remember: The point is not to create the most beautiful composition ever made with four pieces of scrap paper. It’s to see how many compositions you can come up with in a short time. Do it, then move on to your other work, secure in the knowledge that you can play the game again tomorrow.

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin

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