empty canvas : wondering mind

a series of free e-books for artisans and teachers

Hakuin Ekaku: Blind Men on a Log Bridge

Blind Men on a Log Bridge, by Hakuin Ekaku

Is this the way you feel when faced with the empty canvas?
As though you are struggling to find a foothold?
As though you haven’t a clue as to what you’re doing or where you’re going?

Well, you’ll be relieved to know that this is exactly how you will feel if you are opening to genuine creative expression.  That’s why Hakuin’s painting is such a beautiful depiction of the creative process.

Having said that, there are tools at hand to assist the intrepid traveler on his or her via creativa. This series of free e-books is one. You won’t find prescriptions or instructions for making a certain type of art product in these books, though. What you’ll find is a host of ideas about how to simply get going, and once you get going there are more ideas to take you deeper into your own, truly authentic, mode of creative expression.

empty canvas : wondering mind is a series of 9 workbooks, presenting over 200 visual language activities, object-art (craft) activities and projects – an ideal resource for teachers and students at all levels of practice. The content is basically the curriculum I developed during decades of teaching art and design within a variety of educational contexts.  As an art educator I was more concerned with encouraging students to find and express their own unique creative voice rather than turn out a certain type of art product.  This so often seemed the most difficult task facing those who wished to ‘do art’.

The activities and projects in empty canvas : wondering mind are opportunities to examine and release the notions that act to smother our natural state of creativity – the ideas, assumptions and opinions we have about it.  Why?  Because these are the saboteurs that insist our work be perfect from day one, that make it hard for us to face the empty canvas with beginner’s mind.

The heart of the matter lies in exploring the kind of radical creative activity that pushes the limits of perception’s concrete conditioning.  These e-books present a collection of projects and activities that help make explicit those conditioned responses to both the mental and manifested ‘worlds’, thus, perhaps, enabling perception to unfold new ways of seeing and expressing the wonder of the world we create and inhabit.  Their uniqueness lies in this underlying aim: they aren’t ‘how to’ instruction books, they are “what-if …?” workbooks.

empty canvas : wondering mind invites us to relax into the wisdom of not-knowing.  Of playing.  Of exploring and experimenting.  Of finding out for oneself what is possible when all traces of the artist or any other version of the self have taken a holiday, leaving the playground free.  Just to see what might happen.

Yes, the work is challenging.  But it’s also great fun, and potentially liberating.

What is the self that expresses in self-expression?

If you intuit that making art can help us explore this question, and that our artworks are the by-products – maps of our journey – this series of books will be a fine companion for you.


One:  intro & info

Two:  believing is seeing

Three:  wildsight – the innocent eye

Four:  outside-in and inside-out

Five:  making fun of play

Six:  creative constraints

Seven:  outside the square

Eight:  creating from wonder

Nine:  notes and anecdotes

I have never considered selling these e-books.
The urge to share is simply written into my DNA.

However, if you download the books and find them useful,
maybe you’d consider making a donation…?
It would be helpful, and most gratefully received.

There’s a PayPal Donation button on my other website
‘the awakened eye’
you can click on it

With gratitude and a deep bow.