Positive appreciation and fearless exploration

Patterned background 1

Patterned ground 1: 18 x 25cm
Oil Pastel on two sides of tracing paper

I decided its time to stop beating myself up about what I don’t know how to do or don’t do well and give myself some positive feedback about what I am doing.

An interesting article I read recently called Appreciative Inquiry: Unconditionally Positive Questioning in the Art Classroom by Jo Murphy posits that ‘Reflective Artistic Expression’ cannot be evaluated…by using deficit thinking.” or in other words, if we are trying to figure out where we’ve been with our work and where we might go next as a result, we need to question ourselves in such a way as to elicit a positive response.

Having decided to shelve my collage-a-day routine for the moment* over the last five days or so I have been experimenting with an altogether more graphic style: testing out the effect of coloured grounds, of blocking in large area of colour before applying loose line and with using pattern as part of the composition. It seemed like the ideal moment to put to the test some of Jo Murphy’s ideas which – along with other interesting insights – I have distilled into a review sheet designed to help me set up a process of concious dialogue about my art-making.

The result was amazing. Whereas I normally look at my work and see all the things that are wrong with it, this positive questioning approach helped me not only see my art-making experience n a more positive light but also cleverly assisted me to unwittingly create a list of GTD-style ‘next actions’ to take my ideas to the next stage.

Check out my review sheet and/or Jo Murphy’s article for ideas on how to make this work for you.

*I had begun to feel bored: too many of my recent works have been in shades of Vermeer-esque brown and the bright spring days are making me feel in need of a brighter palette and a lighter approach to my art-making.



  1. Robyn said

    Oil pastels on two sides of tracing paper? Such an interesting technigue. Reminds me of the glass painting in Senegal.

  2. jameswillisisthebest said

    This is my first post
    just saying HI

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