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Creativity is not a talent that some people are born with. It is a gift that is available to all who cultivate and harness it. In this article, I will share my experience of keeping creativity alive. It is the result of many small actions that all add up to a creative frame of mind. None of my creativity tips require anything more than a habit upgrade.
- Tip # 1: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”
- Tip # 2: Divert your inner critic by listening to a podcast while creating artwork
- Tip # 3: Daily walk
- Tip # 4: Don’t skimp on the number of hours dedicated to sleep
- Tip # 5: Meditation
- Tip # 6: Show your work to your peers
- Tip # 7: Explore a wide variety of art
Tip # 1: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”
The quote is by Picasso. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Nothing, even remotely, compares to drawing and painting regularly. The fine motor skills of your hand need constant stimulus. Eye-to-drawing-hand coordination takes time to develop. If you draw often enough, translating what you see to paper becomes easier.
You might object that some people who excel at drawing and painting still make boring art. The thing is, the better you know your craft, the freer you are to take off with creative ideas. You know how frustrating it is to have a vision of something you want to paint, but try as you may, you can’t get it right.
When you practice a lot, basic skills will become embedded in your hands. Picasso was an expert at representational art but is famous for his creative work. Your personal creativity will lead you in a direction that is uniquely yours.
Tip # 2: Divert your inner critic by listening to a podcast while creating artwork
Many people like to listen to music to set the mood when drawing or painting. If you easily get carried away by the music, it will work well for diverting your critical mind.
I listen to podcasts instead, because it steals my mind away. Drawing and painting need different levels of concentration. If I am composing a complex picture that requires logic, a podcast is no good. But when I am engaged in creative drawing and painting, it is a great way to silence an interfering, critical mind. It helps me to detach from thinking and dive into the creative flow.
Mind you, if you want to learn something from a podcast, it is no good. Your conscious mind will only partially absorb what you hear. I zoom in and out of listening, depending on the task at hand.
There is, however, a place for learning from podcasts while creating art. When your mind is fully engaged in learning, you can do sketching exercises on auto-pilot. Your sketches may not look like much, since you’re mentally absent. But your hand will get a jolly good workout.
Tip # 3: Daily walk
Visualize a pond with stagnant water. Nothing moves and dirt and debris accumulate. Up to 60% of the human body is water. The brain and the heart have 73%, and the lungs, 83%. Wow! Stir the “pond” to revitalize the mind. Go for a walk.
Walking stimulates metabolism and circulation. The result is often a positive, creative mindset. It is a great way to relax too. Writers famously use walking as a tool to develop their stories. I find that walking has a profound effect on my mental well-being. Sometimes new ideas pop up and just as often, I solve creative problems.
If you can, go for a walk every single day.
Tip # 4: Don’t skimp on the number of hours dedicated to sleep
For a healthy, creative mind, sleep is essential.
Constant access to online entertainment makes skipping a reasonable bedtime all too easy. There are numerous reasons why sleep can be elusive, but dedicating too little time for sleeping is one of them. It can cause anxiety to know you have to get up only a few hours away. And the long-term effect of skimping on sleep is corrosive.
Activities that trigger the mind before bedtime are another way to lose sleep. Reading or watching something exciting is almost like drinking strong coffee before bed. You can end up in a carousel of thoughts and ideas instead of sleeping. Sensitive, creative people need to be aware of this.
Reading a relaxing book before bed has the opposite effect. A story that takes you away from your own life is an excellent way to induce a good night’s sleep.
Tip # 5: Meditation
As a daily meditator since I was a teenager, I can vouch for meditation as an excellent creative tool. Most of my creative ideas are born in meditation.
It is all about stilling the mind and directing it inwards. When we shift focus from busy thoughts to positive ideation by using a meditation technique, something happens. The waves of the mind grow quiet, and treasures hidden deep beneath the surface come to light.
Meditation is a big topic, and you can read more about it in my article 12 Essential Tips on Meditation.
Tip # 6: Show your work to your peers
Sometimes, it is hard to see our own artwork clearly. In my tutorials, I always advise you to put your painting aside for a day or two. You will then see it with fresh eyes and find things that need improvement. The longer you put it aside, the better.
A pair of fresh eyes that don’t belong to you can often be very helpful. But don’t rely on friends and family. They want to please you and have no guts to tell you what you need to hear. Take it to an artist community instead. Our Facebook group One Tree Art Club is one such place. If you ask for feedback, you will get it. If you specify constructive criticism, people won’t pack their words in cotton wool. Just ask!
Tip # 7: Explore a wide variety of art
I get my daily dose of creative inspiration from Pinterest. It’s a visual search engine, not a social media tool. Every type of art under the sun is on display there. Search widely, explore beyond your beaten path. The more artwork you look at, the more ideas will join your subconscious storehouse. When you create your next painting, you will draw on those ideas. In most cases, unknowingly.
I am always amazed at the beautiful art, design, and craft out there. The best works of art are often by unknown artists and artisans. Famous art does not necessarily equate to great art.
Nature herself is another creative genius. Look at plant and animal photos. Get a blast of creative ideas from up-close photography of the natural world. Patterns and colors in nature can be mind-boggling.
These are my 7 creativity tips. I hope you find them helpful. Try them out today and see where it takes you.
My best wishes for your creative journey!