An exercise to spark creativity

And deep thoughts too.



Short answer: I go to an art fair, a gallery, a museum, or an exhibition. I’ll tell you why in just a second. 🙂


But first, it’s good to know that some international art fairs are going ahead as planned – and that includes Fine Art Asia 2021, which will be held from 08 to 11 October, with a by-invitation-only preview on 07 October, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.


Vajravarahi, Tibet
Vajravarahi, Tibet, c. 12th century, Bronze with zinc alloy inlay, H. 41.5 cm, Rossi & Rossi, London/Hong Kong

Of course, there will be safety measures in place. (Be sure to check for updates too.) And although overseas exhibitors and collectors won’t be able to come this year, say the organisers, they can still participate remotely. Plus the fair includes online activities. 👍


If you’re lucky and you can go, they promise a selection of “museum-quality antiques, jewellery, modern and contemporary art, ink art and photography”. Yup, that sounds exciting to me already. 🙂


Let’s get to it then

I’m not an art expert; I just like to admire art. And stare at them. For quite a while, actually.


I use these artworks and venues to help me think and write and daydream and feel. And while walking around and appreciating the pieces – as well as their many intricate details – I get to…


#1 Make up a story

It could be anything. The piece could inspire you to liven up a story you’re already writing, or a theme you already have in your head. It could help you begin a new one.


I remember studying the portraits at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and hoping I could stay and look at them longer. I thought, did these people really look like that, or was there some form of old Photoshop magic going on? (Or maybe it was really all thanks to a talented artist.) How did they live? What were their thoughts and wishes and dreams? How did they really see themselves?


(By the way, I want to go back! I think I’ve been to that gallery three times or even more.)


#2 Learn about their message and history

The artist’s thoughts and the piece’s backstory make things even more interesting. You realise the wealth – and lack – of connections. You realise your impressions and perceptions might be correct, or way off. You realise there’s so much more to it than meets the eye (which is often the case), or it is what it is. And that’s okay.


On another note, you probably don’t need an explanation either. Sometimes things can remain ambiguous. 😉 It’s much more fun that way.


Rasti Chinese Art, Hong Kong
A calcified opaque greyish‐white jade huang with double dragon head terminals, China, Spring and Autumn period (770‐476 BC), W. 10.8 cm, Rasti Chinese Art, Hong Kong

#3 Take a break

Sometimes you don’t have to do anything at all, except look at it and have some peace and quiet. We need to declutter our minds too, in order for it to come up with fresh and better ideas.


#4 Doodle

If you’re good at sketching and drawing, please do so. (I’m not.) Me, I write down whatever comes to mind. It can be single words, phrases, a paragraph.


#5 Be a judge

Yikes. You’re bound to like, love or say WTF/H to some pieces. 😁


Ask yourself, what would you have done, or changed? And why? Make it entertaining and dramatic, or scholarly and precise. (It’s alright, you can pretend to know what you’re talking about.) 😉 Or do a mix.


#6 Talk to someone

While practicing social distancing, yes. 👍


It’s always fun to ask questions and hear other people’s opinions. Use their thoughts and input to boost your imagination.


Or just listen. Art fairs usually have lectures, workshops and seminars; Fine Art Asia is no different. Check them out.


#7 Study the techniques

Maybe you can incorporate them, their materials and other methods into your work. Weave and turn them into new forms that could fit your writing, your work flow, your habits and routine. Interpret them your way and you might be surprised with the results.


Bridget Riley
Bridget Riley (b. 1931), Ground Study for Revision of August 6th 1999, Pencil and gouache on paper, H. 49.5 x W. 59.5 cm, Tanya Baxter Contemporary, London/Hong Kong

#8 Think about the traditions

There’s a reason traditions are traditions, and they live on and persist. The “old ways” work, or at least they tell us what has worked and what hasn’t. And what still could.


What’s your definition of the word “tradition”? What are your traditions? Which “traditions” do you see that fascinate you, and that you’d love to learn more about, to help you create and express yourself better?


#9 Be flexible

And go beyond conventions and limits.


An artwork isn’t just one thing. How we see it can change with our mood, knowledge, experience, situation, perception, influences, even the setting and lighting. 😊 So what else can it be? Try and think about it, and see where it takes you.


#10 Value your perspective, as well as other people’s

Because you and whatever it is you end up creating will be unique.


I could go on and on

But I better stop right there. 😁


Are you in Hong Kong? Will you be in Hong Kong? Then can you go to the art fair for me? 😊 (I also happen to have a list of things I want to eat there.)


Find Fine Art Asia here and on Facebook and Instagram.


Photos courtesy of Fine Art Asia