Creativity Exercise: Natural Patterns & Textures

Having a creative mind isn’t a “you have it or you don’t” way of thinking. We’re all creative; some of us just choose to exercise our creative mind on a regular basis while others allow it to lay dormant. The purpose of this creativity exercise is to nurture that imaginative and innovative brain of yours. It’s going to be exceptionally beneficial for those of you who have been hitting that creativity snooze button for far too long and can be used as a great team-building exercise.

What You Need

  •    Digital Camera/Phone Camera
  •    Paper & Pen/Pencil
  •    Pinterest

The Challenge:

Locate 5-10 Patterns & Textures In Nature

The Purpose:

Patterns and textures in nature that have a spatial relationship are inspiring and have been man’s muse for millions of years. Biomimicry, the imitation of natural biological designs or processes in engineering or invention*, or simply put, humans ripping off patterns and textures in nature for invention, solutions or manmade materials, is seen in our everyday lives. When you locate and examine these natural patterns and textures, whether they are created via mathematically, or through physics, biology or chemistry, you have the ability to translate them into your creative outlet or profession.


In other words, these patterns and textures that you’re locating, photographing, and analyzing can be used to inspire cutting, coloring, or styling in beauty.

The Process:

Step 1: Carve out between one to three hours of personal time to complete this exercise. No seriously. Block out the time and commit to the actual timeframe you’re setting aside to complete this creativity exercise. This is not a stop-and-go kind of activity. Once you start it, you’ll want to complete all the steps. That’s not to say you can’t go back and add to it or elaborate on anything. But completing all these steps in this order, in the same block of time, is going to be beneficial for the creative process in the long run.

Step 2: Grab your camera. If you have a Sony, Canon or a Nixon and know how to use it, awesome, but a fancy camera is not needed or necessary. You can use the camera on your cell phone. You just need something to take pictures in a digital form that can be uploaded. All of these photos you see here, I shot using my Samsung Galaxy (except for the cool fungus pic. My friend Nola took that one). 

TIP: Make sure that battery for whatever you’re using is fully charged!

Step 3: Go for a walk; get outdoors and start exploring. Look up, look down, and look all around. You don’t have to hike a mountain or drive two hours to a forest preserve to achieve this. Hit the pavement and take a walk around a city block (or two) if that’s what you need to do.


Non-manmade, natural patterns and textures are everywhere—you just have to put on some invisible blinders and become more aware of their existence. What you’ll probably start realizing through this creativity exercise is how unaware and tuned out of your surrounding you’ve been:

  • Look at the grass, the weeds and the flowers.
  • Examine the trees and how the leaves have started to change colors. See how they’ve started to drop onto the grass or pavement, and how some have started to collect and gather into groups in the city gutters.
  • Study the patterns that rocks, gravel, and stones are making.
  • Observe the animals and insects you encounter along the way.
  • Watch for clouds in the sky to form a pattern.
  • See if you can spot any cracks below your feet on the concrete, the pavement or the soil.


Step 4: Make sure you keep that paper and pen/pencil close at hand because as you see these patterns and textures, jot down any words, ideas and ways you can apply them in your work.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say you’re walking past a building that has ivy growing up the side of it. When you look closer at the stems of the ivy, you see how they are tangled and intertwined. Take a photo because you can reflect back on this pattern and attempt to recreate it or use this as an example to describe a look or style in copy form.

Step 5: After you’ve gathered 5-10 photos (and I hope you aim high and attempt to get all 10), head back home or to the office and open up Pinterest. Create a new board titled “Natural Patterns & Textures” and upload all these images you’ve gathered to this board. Write down three words to describe each photo taken.

  • Are you noticing any similarities?
  • What are you now seeing about each pattern and texture that stands out?
  • Do any of the individual patterns or textures clash or flatter each other?
  • Can you see any of the patterns or textures be applied to a cut, color or styling service?

SPECIAL REQUEST: Share this board with us on Pinterest so that we can see what caught your eye and made you think during this creativity exercise.


Congrats! You’ve completed your creativity exercise. After you’ve completed Step 5, don’t end and shelve this challenge. Keep going with it. It’s an excellent way for you to practice and evolve your photo-taking skills, an opportunity for you to relieve and eliminate stress, and a chance to unleash your creative potential.

Want to get better at shooting photos? Check out the How to Take A Good Photo: Basics of Composition article, HERE.


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