creating from wonder 3


This is the final of three brief extracts from book eight – creating from wonder – in my series of free e-books: empty canvas : wondering mind

In her book The Quantum Self, Danah Zohar posits that creativity is the dynamic of unfolding consciousness. If, as she proposes, the unfolding consciousness of reflecting human beings forms the bridge between the contemporary world with its fragmentation, alienation, inhumanity, and the “reconciled universe” of coherence, integration and meaning, then it is clear that we need to stop ignoring the beckoning call of creative acting and thinking. We need to start asking some “What if …?” questions about what we presume creativity to be, and why we aren’t able to experience it in a sustained way in every aspect of our lives. There are few better ways of doing that than by engaging in practical encounters with the processes involved in looking, seeing and making.

creating from wonder brings to synthesis all the experiences we’ve had as we moved through the previous 8 books in the empty canvas – wondering mind series. It closes the circle. It brings us back to the wonder of perception and to the space in which that-which-is can speak. But we arrive there richer in every way – richer in insight, in technique, and in our ability to play with the unfamiliar. The empty canvas is our lover, at last.

We have thought hard, questioned hard, and played hard. Now we can bring our new perceptions and perspectives to larger projects – projects that unfold from the activities of the previous chapters. We have established some basic ways of looking and working that we can apply to themes, without being blinded by their abstract qualities or our notions of what we ought to do.

There are fourteen projects in creating from wonder. How you choose to approach them is up to you. They don’t follow any sequence, but you’ll notice that they each relate, in some way, to one (or more) of the previous books. You could start at the first one and work your way through the lot, or simply pick and choose those that have some special appeal. Any of these projects make good workshop activities – they can be explored as deeply as you are inclined to dig, and since there are no ideal outcomes, the need for an authoritative leader is redundant.

The projects:

1  unfold your myth
2  veritable vestments
3  Buddha-body
4  the heart of the story
5  animated grey matter
6  a sanctuary for the secret senses
7  playing with process
8  metaphorically speaking
9  objets trouvés
10  deconstructing and recycling
11  shape-shifting
12  quantum realities
13  culture and creativity
14  the three questions

– miriam louisa simons

creating from wonder 1
creating from wonder 2

creating from wonder 2


This is the second of three brief extracts from book eight – creating from wonder – in my series of free e-books: empty canvas : wondering mind

Marvel and wonder go hand-in-hand, and their offspring is true learning. One of the most exciting things about the kind of activity that occurs in the art room, (the educating art room), is that it is firmly grounded in experimental processes. We are, as novice or professional artisans, deeply involved in both wonder and wondering.

Questions are the life-blood of the artisan, and the prime question in any artisan’s mind is “What if …?”  This is a question that makes many parents and teachers wince.  At the same time, it’s the one that generates exploration and experimentation in the fields of science, sports, philosophy – what area of human endeavor can be excluded from its penetrating, “But perhaps…”?

The “What if …?” of wondering mind is the fuel for any investigation into creativity.



Blind Men on a Log Bridge
By Hakuin Ekaku
(The Gitter Collection)

Hakuin’s painting is a beautiful depiction of the creative process.

Two blind travellers are crossing a river on a bridge made from a floating log. Imagine the courage, the focus, the risk! Arms reach out to probe for stability, feet follow one tentative step at a time. Balance is maintained, but only by ruthless presence in the moment. What if a wave rolls the log ? What if it is flooded over? What if someone is approaching? What if it’s too short, too narrow, too rotten?

The blind men just keep going.

This is so often the way we feel when faced with the empty canvas. We struggle to find a foothold. We feel we haven’t a clue as to what we’re doing or where we’re going.

Well, the good news is that this is exactly how we will feel, if genuine creative expression is our priority.

– miriam louisa simons

creating from wonder 1
creating from wonder 3

creating from wonder 1


This is the first of three brief extracts from book eight – creating from wonder – in my series of free e-books: empty canvas : wondering mind

wonder is a wonderful word to wonder about:
wonderful – wondrous – a wonder – with wonder – to wonder – wondering –
to do wonders – wonderland – wonderment – wonder-worker – wonderstruck…

We can talk about wonder and wondering in so many ways – it’s one of those English words that baffle foreign language students.  We call something ‘a wonder’ when it is an astonishing thing or accomplishment like the Seven Wonders of the World, or when it is miraculous like the birth of a babe.  It is also the “emotion excited by the perception of something novel and unexpected, or inexplicable.”  And sometimes this emotion of astonishment can be “mingled with perplexity or bewildered curiosity.” (Shorter Oxford Dictionary)  And again, it’s the state of mind in which these emotions are held.  When we observe something marvelous, wonder-full, we are filled with wonder, which is like being infused with awe.

But then we sometimes say “I wonder…” and there is a shift in meaning.  To simply say, “I wonder…” usually implies doubt.  Yet to preface a phrase with “I wonder if…” is to imply curiosity.  In French, one says “Je me demand…” – I ask myself.  Then it implies that I’m going to explore, to inquire in and of myself about something.  The way I’ve used the word wondering in this book embraces all these meanings.  For to wonder in the sense of exploring, with doubt and curiosity, is to never be far from the wonder of marvel.  Perhaps the greatest wonder of all is that we have the ability to wonder, to reflect.  And to have that capacity as a natural by-product of being alive is simply amazing.

Marvel and wonder go hand-in-hand, and their offspring is true learning. [Continued…]

– miriam louisa simons

creating from wonder 2
creating from wonder 3

anatomy of an avatar

As far as I can gather, in the context of blogsville, an avatar is a symbol for a site and its scribbler. Symbols speak. They are stand-ins for words. (Words are symbols too, but that’s another story.)

I wanted my avatar to be more than a decorative motif. It had to say something about what my site and my work is concerned with – and hence its scribbler.

I’ve always been interested in the phenomenon of perception and its relationship to the creative life. Our response to anything depends on how we ‘see it,’ and this includes one’s creativity as well as one’s daily life. Habitually we see what we look for – which implies that we knew beforehand what we’d find. In other words, we are looking from our conditioning, out of the past, the known. But there’s another way of seeing: a kind of direct or global seeing. We stumble upon it when – for whatever reason – we are looking with innocence, without agenda, without labeling. I wanted to find an image that would portray these two very different modes of perceiving.

This one met my requirements. It demonstrates the way one’s perception can shift at lightning speed to view two (in this case) possible readings of an image (situation) – neither of which is the right or wrong one. Perception cannot show both images simultaneously. But once they have both been perceived they cannot be denied. The brain changes. Wonderment flows in. This is very good for the creative life.

I also like the way there’s only ONE motif, yet hidden within it are two possible alternative images. One of them shows a large white cube with a black space recessed into the foreground corner. The other shows a black box protruding from a white background. If I think of myself as that black area, I get a neat description of my relationship with the Whole. Most of the time I’m busy strutting ‘my’ stuff, and interconnectedness with the Whole is forgotten. Then, unpredictably and without invitation, Oneness strikes and I’m back in my proper place again, embedded in the Whole, being S P A C E. This is when genuine creativity flows, and I’m awed at the results.

If the perils and pitfalls of perception interest you – particularly if you’re an artist – I highly recommend Art and Illusion by E H Gombrich.

For a fascinating account of how one woman tracked her own processes of perception, look at A Life of One’s Own by Marion Milner.

And if you’d like to download my free e-book believing is seeing hop over to the e-books page. It’s full of puzzles and activities designed to demonstrate the way perception works – a handy resource for both teachers and students.