An unabashed fan of artist/illustrator/writer Maira Kalman (I have a copy of “My Mother’s Beautiful Map” hanging in my cubicle here at work), I offer you this pre-assignment Kalman has given illustration students in a class she is teaching this summer.
… take a half hour walk every day for ten days. Without cell phones, just walk and observe what’s around you for half an hour. And I am sure—I’m very sure—that asking them to spend half an hour without a cell phone is like asking them to take their clothes off. No cell phones, no cup of coffee—just take a solitary walk. If you want to be pretentious about it, Immanuel Kant is famous for taking his walk everyday at 3:30 P.M., so I suggested that time to them. It’s a good time of day; it’s a little bit tired, a little bit sleepy time of day.
It’s good advice.