Rolling the Dice

I went to an inspiring Matthew Harris art workshop a couple of years ago, in which our decisions were made by rolling the dice. What a brilliant idea for getting unstuck, and on with it! We all know there are twenty ways you can proceed at any stage of a painting, and sometimes the range of possibilities can seem overwhelming. Making a game of it–rolling the dice and letting fate decide–is a pretty great strategy for lightening up!

Matthew himself was inspired by Richard Serra’s “list of actions”:


Can’t you imagine assigning an action to each card in a deck, and letting the card you draw determine what you do next? It’s out of your hands–relax and enjoy it!

But I like dice better than cards. I like how they look, I like their nostalgia value, and the way they click as you shake them and roll them out. And like Frog and Toad, I LOVE making lists, and checking things off.

So I have made myself this little notebook, with my standard daily checklist printed out on each page. After I’ve practiced this and exercised that, I roll the dice for my bonus task, and write down what I did….

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Here is my current list of eleven actions to shake things up a bit!

1. (Not applicable–if you are rolling two dice, you’ll never land on 1)

 2. Make a phone call 

3. Draw

4. Write a letter to a friend

5. Try a new recipe

6. Throw or give something away

7. Perform a random act of generosity

8. Read for an hour

9. Do something you’ve never done before

10. Meditate

11. Teach someone something

12. Sight read in Italian tablature

Yesterday I rolled an 11, “Teach someone something”,  and invited Noam over to play. After we’d painted for a while, I realized he was actually the one teaching me something, and had to find another way to complete my task. Noam hasn’t quite got the hang of reading and writing yet, so we spelled Pig, Dig, Big, Rig, Wig, Fig, Jig, Zig (and Zag for good measure). It was really fun, and benefited both of us, I think. I recommend rolling the dice if you like a little improv in your daily routine!




3 Responses to “Rolling the Dice”

  1. Boy you’re not one to get stuck in a rut. I sometimes feel in my advanced years that I keep doing the same unimaginative thing (work) and don’t stretch myself. Thanks for the imagination! HPL

  2. Myrna Hasle Says:

    Great ideas xox

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Myrna Hasle Says:

    Oh, Betsy, how clever! And how are you? Progress with the after effects of the concussion proceed slowly. A cognitive disability seems to take so much longer to heal than a physical one, please do keep in touch. I miss you very much. Love, Myrna

    Sent from my iPhone


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