top of page

Looking and Listening Closely

Preschool Process Art Workshop

The first"ground rule" or "how can I learn best" pointer during my art classes, is to "LOOK AND LISTEN CLOSELY", through a picture of big eyes and big ears. This, I feel is easier for children to understand what is paying attention is all about because I don't just want them to look and listen to me but also to stories, artworks, and to their fellow artist friends during show-and-tell.

According to the Fred Rogers Institute, one of the Fundamentals of Learning and Growing, is "The Capacity to Look and Listen Closely". Here's an excerpt from the article,

The capacity to look and listen carefully is the ability to intentionally observe and learn from the world around a person. Listening carefully refers to a person’s active listening and attentiveness. Looking carefully refers to a person’s process of stepping back to observe and gather information. With the capacity to look and listen carefully, a person can begin to intentionally communicate with others without judgment. 

Slowing down to appreciate and understand what is in each moment is a vital part of the growing and learning process, and this applies to everyone, not just children.


Slow Looking

I believe that "Slow Looking" is a wonderful creative exercise or training we can engage in throughout our daily life. It involves slowing down to look and listen carefully. Sounds simple but yet most of us are not doing it. Perhaps we just need a few steps or prompts to get us started on this journey. Here are some simple steps suggested by Project Zero:

  1. Select your subject for slow looking. How about something in your environment, an artwork or a person?

  2. Observe your subject. Look closely at the subject for at least five minutes and note down as many features as you can. Everything you see and hear.

  3. Record your “wonders”. Write a list of questions or “wonders” that you have.

  4. Consider your subject within a bigger system. Think of a bigger system connected to the subject.

  5. Visualise the system. Sketch a diagram that shows the different parts of the system and how they might interact.

  6. Reflect. Either individually or with a group. Are there any new insights?


Make It Swing, Make It Ring!

For Step 1, I've the perfect creative exercise here for you, taken from my book "Slow Looking at Birds, that you can try on your own, with friends or as a family.

Oriental Magpie Robin mixed media


Observe: Look at the picture of the bird. Then visit the website and click the icon “LISTEN” to listen to the audio recordings of the “Oriental Magpie-Robin”.

Visualise: As you listen, draw to the rhythm and melody of its call.

Reflect: Listen closely to bird sounds in your daily walks and reflect on how they are different. Look and listen out for the "Oriental Magpie-Robin!

Happy Creating! And for more creative fun exercises, you can order my book "Slow Looking At Birds: 12 Creative Exercises Inspired By Birds in Singapore".

slow looking at birds creative exercises book


bottom of page