My Invisibility Cloak: Self-Confidence

My Invisibility Cloak: Self-Confidence

I bumped into Heather, sitting at a neighborhood sidewalk cafe, my fellow Toastmaster talked about career and future plans. What Heather said next… surprised me; complimenting my self-confidence and self-assurance.

“Bearded Iris” pastel painting, (c) Joann Sondy August 2017. Created for my daughter’s birthday.

Wow! I had no idea that people saw or perceived me in this manner.

Recently, people have been noticing my confidence. What?! Me?! Since when?

Truth is… I’m just like you. Knees shaking. Unsure. Introverted. Fear of public speaking. Imposter syndrome.

Many of my Toastmasters’ friends are kind to say how well-rehearsed and prepared as a speaker. It’s true… I practice A LOT; just ask my husband. Rehearsal, not to be rote or mechanical, practicing to become [extremely] familiar with the content, refining my body language and voice and perfecting timing.

I was extremely nervous when delivering my last speech. The content was a subject I’ve been researching deeply the past few months. Valerie, my evaluator took note that I was overtly focused on my content and should have ‘lightened up more’ to engage more deeply with my audience. She also commented about my note cards (a topic for an upcoming article and speech “Val stole my security blanket”).

“I’ve taken several tours and you (Joann) are the best docent so far! Great time, thank you.”

Cheeks flush, I was glowing with modesty after shaking the gentleman’s hand following my CAF ‘Treasures’ tour a few weeks ago. The guest did not know that it had been months since I had lead this amazing tour. Days beforehand, practicing at home and asked a friend to join me for a practice tour.

Success=Self Confidence. Self Confidence is Preparedness.
Urban Sketchers Chicago 10×10 Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Sketchwalk

The Toastmasters speech projects and evaluations have helped me tremendously to overcome fear of public speaking and concentrate on scripting good stories or content. My constant journey of learning about creativity, focus and confidence has added to my arsenal of confidence.

Resources for you:

  • The Tools, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels; especially chapter 2
  • War of Art, Steven Pressfield
  • Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Deep Work, Cal Newport
  • Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp

Join me for a Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tour.

Exploration and Observation = Discovery

Exploration and Observation = Discovery

exploration-feb-2017

Did you hear? Scientists discovered a new solar system 40 light years away. While I heard conversations about the ‘what if’ of getting there; I was more impressed with the exploration and observation the scientists had achieved.

Exploration and observation are the first two tenants of creative thinking. This is the foundation of my workshops, ArchiSketch Chicago. Get OUTSIDE to wander and see your environment, not stuck inside some conference room in a brainstorming session.

Launched last summer, ArchiSketch is about exploration and cultivating one’s own observation and artistic talent. History is my muse and is the backdrop for story combined with easy drawing instruction tailored for each stop.

Join me as we move our exploration and observation outdoors into areas of the city that you may or may not be familiar.

“Joann has a way of presenting information and story to get me to STOP and LOOK. Even though I may cross this intersection on a regular basis.”

One of the greatest compliments I could received–a lasting impression to spark creative thinking in others.

Upcoming ArchiSketch Schedule:

  • March 9th Sketching Sullivan. A three-hour hunt for Louis H. Sullivan’s iconic designs, dissecting his organic & geometric design.
  • March 22nd 3 Plazas on Dearborn. 360˚ views from each plaza, skyscrapers, grand-sized sculpture and opportunities for sketching people.
  • April 8th Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden, this is preview of the Urban Sketchers 10×10 workshop lineup.

Visit the ArchiSketch Chicago website for more information.

In addition to the ongoing Toastmasters projects, I also tap into other resources to expand my story development and storytelling skills:

Storyiz, Stanford d.school’s storytelling & visual communication studio is packed full of content and activities to create compelling & visual communication.

The Art of Storytelling by the masters at Pixar. This six-part class is free from the studio that behind Monsters Inc., Up and Inside Out. FREE.

Illuminate by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez. A new book from the leaders in presentation development, design and public speaking to help leaders communication more effectively.

PS: The Willis Tower (fka Sears Tower) will be undergoing a $500MIL renovation and the kinetic sculpture “Universe” by Alexander Calder will me removed, and is not part of the new plans.

Sun + Shade + Art Supplies = USk Chicago Sketch Seminar

WOW!!!

Two full days of sketching, painting and creativity with people who share a passion for urban sketching. I am humbled to have been a part of the leadership team with my own Architecture Sketching Tour. I’m looking forward to next year.


CHICAGO SKETCH SEMINAR

This year’s Sketch Seminar workshops sold out rather quickly, people from the greater Chicagoland area, across the nation and international sketchers, too. Sixteen workshops scheduled over the weekend, many offered twice, from breaking free of the fear of on-site sketching, introduction to art materials, oil painting, sketch like an architect, sketching with markers and colored pencils to coptic bookbinding. I don’t have final numbers yet, but I’d guess that 200+ people participated in workshops, volunteered and taught.


 

BACKGROUND

Urban Sketchers is a global community of urban sketchers for those who love to draw the cities where they live and visit, from the window of their homes, from a cafe, at a park, standing by a street corner… always on location, not from photos or memory. And, he/she shares their sketches with the community. The manifesto is quite simple:

  • We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  • Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  • Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  • We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  • We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  • We support each other and draw together.
  • We share our drawings online.
  • We show the world, one drawing at a time.

 

Passion. Talent. Community. Exhaustion. This is how I’d describe the weekend. Individuals with artistic passions learning new techniques or pushing their own creative talents in groups, and sharing ideas throughout the workshops and afterward. The weather in Chicago was extraordinary with sunscreen and cold water readily available. The gentle Lake Michigan breezes were calming, encompassing the entire Chicago lakefront experience.

Architecture Sketching Tour

ArchiSketch-GrantPark-071216-usk2The original request to lead an architecture tour was quite a surprise and humbling*. And, after I had drafted an initial tour, the hub for Chicago Sketch Seminar 2016 shifted to American Academy of Art located at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren–a new tour needed to be developed. The challenge was to organize a walking route that would be interesting and allow enough time for sketching. I believe my Grant Park: Michigan & Congress tour achieved these core principles.

Overview:
  • Chicago Club
  • Van Buren Metra Entrance
  • Michigan Avenue “Cliff” (Van Buren to Congress)
  • Fine Arts Building
  • Auditorium Building
  • Grant Park Entrance at Congress: The Bowman and The Spearman
  • Buckingham Fountain
  • Presidents Court Sitting Lincoln (excluded due to Taste of Chicago fencing)
  • Railway Exchange Building
  • Metropolitan Tower (fka Strauss)

 

USk 2016 Architecture Sketch Tour Map & eBook
USk 2016 Architecture Sketch Tour Map & eBook

The map and entire tour booklet are available for download. I’ve included in my booklet the background information on each location and additional photos.

 

Gratitude

First, thank you to ALL who participated in the Architecture Sketching Tour on Saturday and Sunday. Your feedback and comments have been very helpful to refine this tour. Big thanks to the Chicago Sketch Seminar leadership team, teacher and volunteers who made 2016 a success year for Urban Sketchers Chicago.

What’s Next

The Architecture Sketching Tour was a precursor to ArchiSketch Chicago that I’ve been developing since early Spring. Based on feedback, I’m now ready to launch. Visit ArchiSketch Chicago for more information about workshops.

See you on the street with your sketchbook!

Joann

*  USk Chicago seminar planners aren’t aware, but, as Docent, I had to seek permission from Docent Standards at Chicago Architecture Foundation to participate and lead USk tour. 

Clutter, Chaos & Creativity

Look at my desk! Every day I attempt to keep the stacks organized. Thoughts of my arm sweeping all of it into the garbage pale are enticing. I don’t. Why? Because I’m developing several (big) projects right now and I’m in a mode of creation.

photoMy organized chaos consists of:

  • Work-in-progress
  • Family archival scans-current batch
  • Sketches and artwork for my textile designs
  • Speeches in the queue
  • Monthly planning
  • Prototypes
  • Reference materials

Let’s Get Messy

Throughout my readings and research about the creative process, there is one phase that is regarded as necessary: CHAOS.

Variety, I do a lot of things, not well, it avoids boredom.
-Isaac Mizrahi

It is the initial stage of generating multiple ideas, tagging research/examples, scribbles, sketches, picking ingredients, playing random notes, etc.

Ever observe a young child at play? It’s messy. That’s a good thing!

CURIOSITY or Open Mindedness is the child-like perspective to exploration and experimentation. We’re having fun and uninhibited.

Typically, this is when most of us give up. I have, many times. Why? I couldn’t truly tap into my playful and less-purposeful mind. I was after all, an ADULT.

Circle of Creativity

creative-flowWriter and humorist, John Cleese, has a theory about the circular process of creativity as we move from “open” and “closed” mind states.

  • Open mindedness: we’re relaxed and playful.
  • Closed mindedness: we’re impatient and tense.

Each state contributing to the overall creative process. How can you do this?

Conditions for Open Mode are space and time. Sequestering yourself away (space) from external demands and distractions. Give yourself time to focus, this is a necessity–not a luxury. Be specific if you must, set a timer for 2 hours or 30 minutes for uninterrupted time.

A discipline that can be developed over time. Be gentle with yourself. Your mind will want to check email and text messages…RESIST. Stat focused within the oasis of quiet time to be with your own ideas and thoughts.  Strengthening over time.

Closed Mode is a phase for implementation or executing on your ideas. Taking pages of notes & research and scripting a new speech. Reviewing quick sketches for larger and long-term potential.

Cycle through the Open/Closed modes as you move through your projects. Giggling and inspiring our inner child to keep moving forward; regardless of opinion.

Ideas are worthless if you can’t make them happen.
-Scott Belsky

My daughter’s room is messy, I do wish she’d tidy up a bit. I don’t nag about it as much as I used to (only if it gets too bad). Why? I don’t want her to lose the ability to use her child-like mind as she prepares to depart for college to begin a new phase of her life.

Go play!

References:

John Cleese “How To Be Creative”

Isaac Mizrahi TED Talk “Fashion and Creativity”

Scott Belsky “Make Ideas Happen”