Managing Societal Expectations

Managing Societal Expectations! There is ‘Right’ or ‘Wrong’ in creating a Colour-Sand Glass!

In my role as a florist in the past 8 years, I learnt the importance of meeting customer’s expectations. I shared this ‘insight’ at one of the CFS ‘Creative Workshop by Young People for Young People’. As an ice-breaker activity, I asked participants to take turns to tell us what their expectations were from the ‘Mindfulness Origami workshop’. To wrap up this activity, I said, ‘I hope my co-facilitators and myself could meet your expectations.’  I received a comment from one of the participants that she found this discussion very useful.

My teacher said this ‘Trojan Horse‘ was my best work!

At last month’s Succulents in Colour-Sand Glass Workshop, one of the instructions provided to each participant was ‘There is NO ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ regarding how to paint the glass jar. Just imagine the tip of the straw is your ‘paint brush’. The colour sand is your paint.’

The part of this instruction was the advice from my art teacher Leonel Sanchez Sanchez. He is my first art teacher who could see some potential in me when I took a ‘Mixed-Media Class’ with him at Mosman Community College in 2006. There was a 2nd part of his advice: what appears to be the ‘wrong’ as described by your critics became your ‘style’! I kept this advice in my heart! Imagine myself as the young Picasso developing my own style! That year was a challenging time as I had a relapse of clinical depression. I cut down from working full-time to 3 days a week. All a sudden I had free time to nurture my inner self!

My first serious mixed-media art project Please Take a Seat!

I have since attended numerous art classes learning a variety of media in Sydney, perhaps trying to make up for lost time! I now call myself a mixed-media artist. My favourite media are charcoal, pastel, acrylic, dried flowers and leaves, paper (cutting). I reflect on my first art education experience as a 5-year-old growing up in HK – I was always good at handicraft! However, I was always told that I didn’t draw like the ‘thing’ I was supposed to draw by numerous art teachers. Could you imagine I almost failed my art subject at high school?

paper cuttings by Bibi

I think my story resonated with the experience of a young participant at the recent colour-sand workshop. She told me at the start of the workshop that she liked earthy colours. During the course of the workshop, she was very careful in adding small spoonful of different colour sand into her glass. I checked on her progress and described the effect as ‘nudging’. I praised her for her very attentive approach and experimenting with other ways from my demonstration. It took courage to stand out from her peers! This is a classic example of what I meant by ‘There is no Right & Wrong’ in painting the glass jar!’ I observed the interactions between this participant and her parents (when picking her up). I could see a slight ’disappointment’ on the parent’s face. This was the ‘classic’ reaction of ‘you didn’t ‘paint’ it like you were supposed to do’. I came to the rescue and said, ‘I think she really enjoyed the process! We discussed how this was similar to the ‘nudging’ effect achieved with your fingers blending various soft pastel colours together!’ I also asked for a ‘confirmation’ from the little girl! ‘YES!’ I loved to see the smile on her face!’ I think this courageous 11-year-old has a lot of potential in her creative journey! Looking forward to seeing her at the next workshop!       

The ‘nudging’ effect created by the young participant.
My attempt to copy Picasso!

P.S. In researching the nudging technique in soft pastel, I accidentally discovered the ‘Nudge Theory’. If you have 29 minutes to spare, this presentation by Prof Nick Hulbert-Williams, Professor of Behavioural Medicine at the University of Chester: ‘Changing Behaviour to Keep People Health: The Psychology Behind Nudge Theory’!

If you only have 5 minutes, this is a great intro for you: What is nudging?

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