In the 2nd half of this 3rd part of McNiff’s book, Imagination in Action, he further takes the reader in developing a deeper understanding of witnessing. Every act of creating is part of a human expression, no matter how small or insignificant. Our task is to view the creation with a mindfulness that even our own attitude at the time may influence what and how we perceive the creation. Our perspective is selective in what we view. The author further expands the act of witness something visually being created, to listening for what is described by the artist. At times, people speak about their work. They may share about how they were anxious, uncertain about their creative process. This too, McNiff suggests, is essential to further expand one’s artistic mindfulness and completes both functions of witnessing in action. Witnessing allows one to go deeper, beyond the surfaceness of an action. He suggests these guidelines for witnessing as one is able to move in and out of awareness, as this is a natural part of life, and not to be used against oneself. There is no need to have any physical engagement or eye contact with the participants; only focus or concentrate on the action. One has the freedom to choose how they perceive, as there is no wrong in one’s perception. The creative process in a discipline and at times can be unpredictable. No need to interject one’s ideas as these would be uninvited and would interrupt the artist’s process. To be witness is to be supportive, affirming of the other’s creative process. While one may interpret a creative expression, interpretation is projecting a viewpoint. Interpretation is not witnessing. One’s artwork is their offspring who carry our creative genes that become parts of our lives and our community. McNiff shares other forms of interpretation as these are instinctual responses to the world. He gives other ways of interpretation such as a person’s tone or mood within their voice, a description of an historical event, portrait of a person, music .. classical or other form, painting of landscapes or other work. Each of these can be interpreted in many different ways from people, places, emotions, situations, relationships… to even one’s life experiences. All of which communicates meaning of an experience. He further shares that a witnessing consciousness holds an unbiased view to approach with intrigue the creative process.
I encourage you to buy a copy of Imagination in Action for a better understanding of your own creative process. Whether you're a master artist or beginning artist, this is an excellent book.