Observation exercises


This is another layout from the observation journal. As previously described (werewolf conferences and colour treatments), the left-hand page is a serious of observations from the day.

The right-hand page, in this case, is a series of more structured observation/noticing games. I did them in Black Milk cafe (in January, when we could still go inside), but you can try them in any situation — the more boring the location, the better it works for changing how you look at things (useful for drawing and describing, too).

2020-01-17-KJennings Cafe observations

  • 12 things I could hear: This is a category on the left-hand page, too, but it’s the one I struggle with. Here: the whisper of cars, the freight train brakes that sound like welding, “Einstein was a Surfer”…
  • ROYGBIV: Find every colour in the spectrum. With e.g. a slate roof or a single tree-trunk, it’s enough to find one of each. With a whole scene or room to work with, trying for three or five is useful. Here, there’s yellow: on a peachy-white silk rosebud, caught in the base of turned-up tumblers, pale chocolate-chip biscuits, a t-shirt on a sign, a $50 note as someone handed it over…
  • Tones: Find the brightest lights and darkest shadows. (The brim of a hat, the reflection on the edge of a sieve). If you draw this, rather than just recording it, it can adjust how you see the world for an hour or two.
  • Narrative: Pick a story and list the key elements. Then look for the equivalents of those in your setting. I almost always do Little Red Riding Hood, so I made an effort and played it with the Minotaur, this time. It’s sometimes surprising how well things match — this cafe has a central island, and also a hidden downstairs room, and there were red threads woven through the coffee bags. Others require a bit more effort — the signalling effect of black sails here replaced by the hanging bathroom key.

7 thoughts on “Observation exercises

  1. Pingback: May post round-up | Kathleen Jennings

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  3. Pingback: Observation journal: 100 Ugly Pigeons, and drawing things together | Kathleen Jennings

  4. Pingback: Observation Journal — a tremor in the web | Kathleen Jennings

  5. Pingback: Observation Journal — written sketches and samplers | Kathleen Jennings

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