For three months this sunset painting sat unfinished. I couldn’t motivate to pick it up and work on it, until now. What changed?
For one thing, with the holidays behind us and a new fresh year ahead, I recommitted to creativity. My goal is to sit and paint every morning for at least 15 minutes. So far this year, I’ve done just that plus a few days at the end of 2020.
When I sit down to paint I usually have no plan. Sometimes I start by organizing my art supplies. That’s when I uncovered this painting (but immediately set it aside). I often start by playing in my sketchbook. There is no pressure with a sketchbook. I feel free to explore. As I paint, ideas come to me.
It’s so interesting how you can go from no idea…to painting bananas…to “It’s time to finish that sunset.” It just proves how important it is to regularly sit down to paint, to show up every day.
There are days that nothing exciting happens on the page, but that’s part of the creative process too. No matter what the results, time spent being creativity clears my mind.
I encourage you to paint, draw (or whatever) for 15 minutes each day. You never know what it will lead to!
December can be a crazy month as we prepare for the holidays. I don’t even need to remind you that things are extra stressful this year. One of my favorite things to do in December is to create every single day.
Creativity is very important to me, but life always seems to want to pull me away from it. I should say I let life (and Netflix) pull me away. Because December is such a full month, I find it the most important time to recommit to creativity. I encourage you to the same. Just 15 minutes a day can be such a stress reliever!
For the last few years, I’ve created an illustration each day in December. This year I’m trying a new medium – block printing. I’ve gotten a head start – I organized my tools, watched a few YouTube videos, sketched a few ideas. I’ve even carved two small designs!
In the past my goal was to post a completed illustration each day. This year I simply want to work in the new medium for at least 15 minutes a day. I have to admit it’s hard to be a beginner! That first day carving my linoleum block felt so awkward. But I know from experience that a month of focusing on one thing can lead to real progress.
I hope you’ll join me in creating every day!
There are a lot of great kits to get you started with a new medium in this blog post.
One of the biggest problems we have as creatives is too many ideas. Have you ever been working on a project and you get an idea and “squirrel!” – You set off in a new direction? If the same thing happens again while you‘re working on the “new” idea, you’ll never finish anything!
One of the most helpful tools I use to keep me focused is a notebook. My notebook and morning routine have enabled me to keep my New Year’s Resolution (My Creative Resolution) for almost 8 years! Every morning I write in my notebook and check in with my creative projects.
Aside from daily writing, a critical part is checking back on previous entries. Doing this reminds me of past ideas and projects. It allows me to re-focus back on things I may have forgotten about. When I’m revisiting past entries I also can decide which ideas not to pursue, because it’s hard to get things done if we spread ourselves too thin. Looking back allows me to feel satisfaction when I’ve finished a project.
Sometimes I have an idea that in the moment I’m very excited about, but as time passes I lose confidence in it. But when an idea keeps popping up – I know it’s time to follow through.
This is how I was able to finish the book based on My Creative Resolution – “Creative Exploration.” The idea for the book kept coming back to me. I would work on it for a while and then move on to other things. When the book idea came back around for the second or third year in a row, I figured it was time. I immediately hired my own proofreader. I knew having a due date and someone else would hold me accountable to finish a draft.
Sometimes life gets in the way of creativity and we are running around doing other things. Between teaching art and finalizing my new Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide, I haven’t had time to paint. Well maybe I’ve had time, but not the motivation. Every time I walk past my paints – set up at the family room table – and see the blank sketchbook page I think, “I have to paint today,” and then I keep walking.
Today is the day. Just 10 minutes is enough to get me back into painting. Now I’m excited. I have plenty of reference photos on my phone – things that have been inspiring me, including surf from the recent tropical storm. I’m halfway to my paints already.
I was sewing the other day. Trying to make a few new masks. Sewing is a new thing for me. I’ve tried it here and there over the years but waited so long in between that it always felt like starting over. Now that I’ve been doing it more regularly, I’m getting the hang of it. There isn’t as much of a struggle.
As I sewed I wondered what new things – art, craft, baking, etc. – I would carry on with after quarantine is over? Based on what I see online, lots of people are trying their hand at new things – baking bread, painting, etc. or getting back to things they used to enjoy – puzzles, game night, taking walks, etc. What will we take with us into the new normal of life?
The silver lining in self quarantine is that some of us have had this time to explore things we normally don’t have time to explore. A friend of my sister’s messaged me and said she hadn’t painted in decades, but wanted to try again and asked what paint and tutorials I recommended. Often it is hard to know where to start.
How do you know what medium to begin with? How do you find an art medium that speaks to you? I went through this myself when I started My Creative Resolution. Throughout the process of exploration painting in watercolor was what rose to the top. For you it may be something totally different. But how do you find your thing?
I’ve developed a process for you to follow, that walks you through trying things, while developing a regular practice of creativity. Fifteen minutes a day can be sufficient! We start with the basics, no fancy supplies needed, and slowly work up to trying other mediums. There is room for your interests here. After all, your exploratory journey should be based on you!
I need a project to motivate and inspire me. Something to break up the routine and dull-drums of the week. Without a project I’m bored.
For me, a project doesn’t need to come from someone else. I’m just as motivated by my own projects and challenges. A deadline certainly helps, even if it’s self imposed.
Right now I’m embracing the freedom to work on anything now that my “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” project has wrapped up. But I also need something to get me excited to create and to hold me accountable.
I took a trip down memory lane to review some of my bigger projects:
This Blog – when I started it and it was new, it was so motivating! I finished so many projects just because I wanted to post the final product. “Finishing” was a skill I had to learn.
Month Long Challenges – I participated in several, back to back challeges – InkTober, a month of World Watercolor Group’s prompts (food), and my own Countdown to Christmas. These focused months led to me dedicating myself to…
Painting Watercolor Seascapes – Originally a month long project it lasted well beyond that (a year?, 2 years?), and is still a focus of mine. I’ve just launched an watercolor seascape painting online lesson to share all I’ve learned.
Acrylic Seascapes – I dedicated a month to exploring seascapes in acrylics. I learned so much and progressed so much. I’m dying to get back to acrylics!
The 100 Day Challenge – I participated in the 100 Day Challenge and focused on illustrated map making, something I was curious about for years. The project was great, but map making was a side interest that took over and 100 days was way too long. I didn’t make it to the end.
“Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” – After our trip to Paris, I was so excited to paint what inspired me. I decided to invite others along via a paid email series. The program included four weekly emails with watercolor tips, a Paris theme, specific prompts with details and links to learn more, reference photos, and videos of my process painting each prompts. Turning the idea to paint Paris into a shared experience pushed me and motivated me so much! I dove much deeper into the theme than I would have if I painted alone. But I almost bit off more than I could chew – painting and filming and editing five videos a week was a lot even without the technical issues I experienced. But, I learned so much.
A project is great because it gets you excited and forces you to focus, but it’s important to remember that saying yes to one thing is essentially saying no to other things. I want to be intentional about picking my next project. In the meantime, I’m painting poppies. 🙂
Recently I went to a high school reunion. I went to an all girls high school – which is quite a bonding experience! The “reunion” was a party a bunch of us threw to celebrate our fiftieth birthdays. It was a lot of fun and great to see and spend time with this great group of “girls.”
A few friends commented that they love watching me paint on Instagram. One said that she didn’t remember me being creative in high school. While I loved art class in high school, I certainly didn’t spend my off hours creating. What I think is interesting is that when it comes to creativity most people have an us or them mentality. They assign themselves to one camp or the other – creative or not creative.
They assume you must have an innate talent to paint and probably have always done it. What I believe is that ANYONE can do it. You might deem yourself “terrible” at the start, but with time and effort it is almost impossible to NOT get better. But, it’s hard to convince some people of this. It’s almost like converting them to a new religion. They firmly believe they belong in the “not creative” camp and aren’t willing or don’t think it’s possible to venture out.
What camp are you in? Have you ventured out of your original camp? Or are you ready to?
It’s hard to commit to a daily painting challenge but every time I do, and stick with it, I’m always happy with the results. The first few times I did my Christmas countdown (daily watercolor illustrations counting down to Christmas) I followed prompts. Last year and this year, I’ve allowed myself the freedom to paint whatever fits into the Christmas/winter/holiday theme. I love the flexibility to explore.
The first few days of a daily challenge can feel a little awkward, or stiff. But after that you open up to the inspiration around you. Flipping through a skiing catalog I saw a Telluride ad that I thought would be so cool to paint. It was totally outside of the normal thing I would do. I enjoyed the process and was pleased with the results. The thing I get most excited about are the ideas. Last year I painted a girl with a record player in front of a tinsel covered tree – me as a kid, playing a favorite gift.
Daily painting or drawing is hard, especially during the busy holiday season. But the break from the busyness and the interesting creative process of coming up with new ideas is so worth it!
The path to regular creativity is to simply draw, paint, craft, or whatever interests you, for 15 minutes almost every day. If you schedule the time, and plan for it – even if you are busy – you should be able to manage 15 minutes of creative time most days.
These brief creative periods reinforce your creative priorities, and allow you to get in the creative mindset – which will lead to more creativity, and longer creative session when time allows.
Carving out 15 minutes of creative time says, “This is important to me.” And it is calming and meditative. As you work creative ideas and plans may form – write down your ideas!
Regular creativity opens you up to inspiration, even during other parts of your day.
Want to explore creativity? My new ebook takes you step by step through the process for introducing regular creativity into your life, finding inspiration, and exploring mediums.