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A couple of years ago, I took a free class on Coursera (or a similar MOOC), with a focus on increasing creativity. It wasn’t graded or for credit, and it was asynchronous so no one was really participating in assignments, but I did watch nearly all of the videos, and one of the concepts that I remember mentioned over and over was called Zoom In, Zoom Out, Zoom In (or ZiZoZi).

I can’t say that I completely recall the essence of ZiZoZi, except that it was a way of zeroing in on a problem, stepping back to view implications and competitors, and then zooming back in. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to watch the videos again.

That said, what I took out of it was the phrase: ZOOM IN. And as time has progressing, the meaning for me has come to mean really intently focusing on that which is in front of me, and giving each piece of a puzzle its due.

Earlier this month, I taught a lesson on Georgia O’Keeffe as an elementary school art docent. It’s the best volunteer position out there for a creative spirit like me!

We attend six trainings a year, where local artists adapt the work of a renowned artist (living or dead), and roll together art history with hands on art experience, all packaged for kid consumption. At the trainings, the local artist goes over tools and set up, then guides us through the lesson. We create the art based on the lesson, and then go into the classrooms and teach it to the children. The program in our district runs from kindergarten through 12th grade, and is part of every child’s curriculum from kinder through 8th grade. At the high school level, it is optional.

Depending on the teacher, these docent-led art lessons can be the only art exposure kids get all year.

Anyhow, back to the Georgia O’Keeffe lesson and Zoom In. For the project, we were asked to use L-shaped view finders to zoom in on a square section of a blown-up photography of a flower. It could be a section starting off as large or small as we wished, but we would all end up with a 6 x 6 inch square creation.

Once we selected our section, we proceeded to use Sharpie over the main lines within in our square, then transferred the lines to the square canvas, adjusting for scale, did some colorful magic with tissue paper, and finally revisited the Sharpie.

Here’s a look at my finished product:

As I was working on the project, and then teaching it, I could help but hear the words, “Zoom In,” running through my mind.

What Georgia O’Keeffe did with her floral art was force us to look at minute details of a flower at a large scale. She zoomed in for us, so that we could step back and reflect on the intricacy of plant life.

What the local artist who adapted O’Keeffe’s art did was take that concept a step further in the process of teaching children how to look closely at nature, how to zoom in. By limiting their view to only that which appeared through the square of their view finder, she eliminated the rest of the flower. Nothing outside of that box mattered. Of course, it existed. But it wasn’t relevant. And by limiting the scope of relevance, it was possible to better understand the shape of each petal, and its relationship to everything else within the frame.

At the same time, by using black and white photographs, and tissue paper for the color, she was also imposing restrictions from getting too detailed. Each bit of pollen or petal wrinkle was too minute to convey.

She forced the children to zoom in on the shapes and relationships, but remain relatively abstract on the color and the precise detail. It was a good lesson in paying attention and letting go.

Paying attention and letting go… Isn’t that a lesson we could all stand to learn and be reminded of a time or two?

Whether it comes to our own creative expression, our approach to parenthood, or the notion that we have the power to plan our lives, it’s all a bit of a balance between the two.

As creative individuals, it is important to zoom in, to look at the smallest detail, to ruminate on that which we are too hurried to notice unless we take the time to slow down and pay attention. But it is also important to accept and acknowledge that as soon as we attempt to capture its essence, it has already transformed.

The best we can hope in sharing our experience of zooming in may be to invite another to pause and reflect, and notice the marvel of life, if only for a moment.

ABOUT A TO Z CHALLENGE

For the month of April, I committed to write 26 posts starting with the letters A through Z, along with hundreds of other businesses and bloggers from around the world. I first ran into the A to Z Challenge many, many moons ago (circa 2011), when I was brand new to the online writing world. It was a great way to jumpstart my creative juices, and I had so much fun “meeting” men and women sharing what they love to do. So I knew that when I was ready to launch Of Love + Light, the A to Z Challenge would be the perfect way to make it happen!

I admittedly missed a couple of days, so I’ll spend the first few days of May rounding out those missing letters. And then it’s on to whatever “normal” is bound to look like over here at Of Love + Light!

ABOUT < OF LOVE + LIGHT >

Of Love + Light is a place for uplifting media, creative inspiration, art, nifty creative publications, and storytelling. I also offer editing, creativity coaching, and small business communications planning services. Founded by Alana Garrigues, Of Love + Light is your place to come, relax, feel inspired and loved, and share more of what’s good on this beautiful planet.

Of Love + Light has infinite possibilities, and YOU are a huge part of what this will look like. Want to talk? Send me an email!

“Zoomed In” was posted as part of the Daily Dose: Inspired series. 

Daily Dose: Inspired… Looking for a small something to get you inspired to take on the day? This is the place to come for a photo, a song, a pick-me-up quote, a little slice of happy. At least, these are the things that inspire me!