7 Ways To Shake Up Your Creative Practice
Published on June 19, 2017
Last week the artists in my IGNITE Online Intensive and I were having a juicy discussion on how play shows up for us in our creative practice and in our businesses.
Personally, I said, I rarely use art as my way of play. Instead I find that my favorite form of play tends to involve being active outdoors.
But then after our call was over, I started to reflect more upon this idea of play and realized that I do lean into art as play. It just happens in ways that I wasn’t formerly defining as “play”.
Up until now, I was thinking using art as play meant randomly splashing paint around and approaching the creative practice more like a young child and that’s really not appealing to me.
I realized though that for me, play has to have tighter perimeters and include exploration — and aha! Isn’t that what play is really about anyways?!
So as the the Summer Solstice approaches this week, I wanted to share with you seven delicious ways I shake up my own creative practice and invite in more play.
Enjoy — and Happy FEARLESS® Painting!
1. Attempt The Impossible.
I love kayaking. I mean I LOVE, LOVE, LOOOOVE kayaking!
And for as long as I’ve been kayaking I’ve had this secret dream of doing some art making while out on the water. But honestly, it felt impossible.
Just too many variables to consider like where would I stash my paints and how will I keep steady?
Then one day I said “screw it” and decided to give it a try. Instead of paints I took my Art Graf Carbon block and Conte Crayons that I dipped into the lake and did quick value studies of the mountain landscape that I kept floating away from as fast as the drips ran down my paper.
It was messy as all hell, but fun too!
So what feels impossible to you?
Say “screw it” and attempt it in the simplest way possible. Strip down your materials, give yourself a time limit to stay loose, and go for it. Don’t aim for perfection — allow yourself to attempt the impossible and see what comes from that!
2. Take A Road Trip.
Here in Phoenix, Arizona Summer is for road trips! It’s the one sure way we can drive a couple hours north to the high desert and escape the triple digit heat!
One of my favorite things to do is grab my watercolors, a small pouch of brushes, a bottle of water, and my beloved Hand Book journal that is the perfect size to rest in my lap.
Windows open, tunes playing, and as I stare out the window I do quick sketches of things that catch my eye. Then once I have a collection I paint them in.
This is a perfect activity for the kiddos too! Phoenix uses markers and we draw the sketch boxes in his journal before we hit the road.
Keep it simple. Keep it fresh!
So when’s the next road trip!?
3. Move The Studio Outdoors.
I’m not a plein air painter, nor do I wish to be.
I simply love to make the outdoors my studio and allow the landscape to inspire my brush. That’s exactly why I can set up my paints in front of the majestic red rocks of Sedona and leave with a canvas that looks more like a Starburst commercial then a true representation.
It’s art baby — you call the shots!
Once again, all you need to do is keep things simple.
If painting in a public place scares the gajeebers out of you, then start in your own backyard or on the front porch.
For me I put all of my supplies (brushes, water bottle, sketchbook that I use as a palette, water bowl, small canvas board and my lucky apron) in a backpack while I lug all of my acrylic paints in a plastic carrying tote.
If the thought of moving the studio outdoors is getting the creative juices pumping — I recommend checking out my free Travel Journaling Tutorial .
The key, I feel is to not create amazing paintings — but to shake up the energy and play! (Yes, I said play!)
4. Stay Neutral.
Summer is packed with color. The flowers are in bloom. Tropical fruit for lunch. Sun dresses, bathing suits, and flip flops.
I say be a rebel. Stay neutral.
Create art that is MOODY, subtle, and void of any bright, juicy colors.
Celebrate grey, beige, tan, and those glorious ochres.
And before you know it Autumn will be here and everyone will be thinking you were a head of your time!
5. Oil Up.
Oil pastels are great because you can take them anywhere and there’s next to little clean up and set up.
One of the questions I get asked all the time is do I finish my oil pastel pieces with any sealer?
And my answer is “no” –I very rarely do.
What I do do is make sure there is a separate piece of scrap paper or newsprint in front of each piece to keep it from scraping what’s next to it and scratching my marks.
So grab yourself some oil pastels and start playing. The key is to lay it on thick and layer! layer! layer!
6. Change Directions.
If there is one thing I love to do as an artist that is change directions. It’s totally like me to be painting in one style for awhile and then wake up and totally change directions. Actually, I do that with many areas of my life.
This Summer, why not try changing directions?
This sounds totally scary, but it actually can be quite fun and invigorating! The paintings you see above I created while in Oaxaca, Mexico this January. One of the things I did in each painting is once I hit a place that felt safe, comfortable, and even a bit “pretty” I did something to mess it up — to change total directions. Sometimes it was merely scribbling like a two year old, other times I actually spilled paint over an area.
Get wild. Get crazy. Change directions and see what is waiting for you on the other side.
7. Plan An Artsy Lunch Date.
I never leave home without my pocket sketchbook and markers. They’re perfect for collecting ideas, dropping in quick sketches — and the best thing ever: having an artsy lunch date with my little fella Phoenix.
Pick your favorite restaurant. Invite someone you’d love to spend the afternoon with. Then after you put in your order pull out your sketchbook and markers and PLAY!
I like to create simple line drawings. Phoenix loves to put shapes together and tell elaborate stories of what they are.
I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to pass the time.
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