The Creative Process: What Works For Me

Want a peek into the creative process I use? Click through to read more--It may help you discover your own.

Does the creative process elude you?  I remember when I started taking my painting class, my teacher spoke about his creative process and how it was an integral part of producing actual work.  Because let’s face it, even when you have the time to sit and get to work, the inspiration isn’t always there.  This is where the creative process can jump start things!  Most days I have to refer to a few tricks to make the most of my time when I’m trying to get in the zone.

It wasn’t so obvious to me what my process was in the beginning, though. I had to almost step back and watch what I did as I did it, to figure out how I created my own inspiring environment.

So if you’re not sure of your own creative ways, don’t worry!  I have a few tips to help you figure it out.  The main idea is to focus on the 5 senses: it will help you be really present in the moment and ready to embrace whatever comes up.

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Here is a peek into my creative process and how I use each of the senses:

Sight: I like to be in an environment with visual stimulation to keep the juices flowing.  This can be sketchbooks I keep open to look at now and again for ideas, previous paintings on the wall or some other artist’s work in Instagram that gives me some ideas to adapt into my own. I usually paint in my studio (which is also a spare bedroom right now) so I like to have a lot of color around me to keep me loose and brave.

Hearing: Music playing helps me get out of my own way. I heard once that when you play music while you are creating, it turns off that left brain so that the ideas flow easier.  That makes so much sense, right? The inner critic is silenced a little easier.

Taste: A drink and a little snack nearby helps me keep going so I’m not interrupted!  I love my snacks 🙂  And no one likes to stop the flow in the middle of a good idea.

Touch: I love to keep my supplies within arm’s reach so I can experiment with different markings and materials.  If I don’t have to dig through clutter or an overwhelming amount of supplies. I create more easily.  (That’s probably true for most of us.)  I have standby favorite supplies. but I also like to keep unlikely tools around to mix things up. (spray bottle, bubble wrap, baby wipes etc)

Smell: I once saw a video of  Flora Bowley where she prepped her canvas with a smudging stick.  She said the smell of the smoke and the energetic clearing of the space helped her get focused.  I love this!  I tend to use a candle, but it has the same effect. Smells can bring up a lot of memories, so I make sure the scent is one I love and has a good association.

Another part of my process includes wearing clothes that are comfortable and messy–ones that I don’t worry about getting paint on.  I also allow a little time before I create something to think about the inspiration behind my session.  Whether it was a song or a poem or a color in nature that I saw that day, I try to hone in on what brought me to my table to create.  Knowing the ‘why’ makes it easier to break through when I hit a block.

I hope this inspires you if you need help figuring out the creative process; using the senses is a great way to start and you can expand on it from there.  Just keep in mind, it’s a fluid practice and it’s always changing!  Go with what moves you forward at the moment and enjoy whatever shows up.

Love, Steph

 

April 20, 2017|Art Stuff, Habits, How To|

5 Organization Ideas That Boost My Creativity

5 Organization Ideas That Boost My Creativity

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I have a few organization ideas up my sleeve that I use in order to get my creativity flowing.  Because although I like to think I can just sit down at any  moment and churn out some awesome creative pieces, there’s usually a few steps I have to take to get to that point; I’m guessing you’re the same way. #amiright?

And I don’t know about you, but life often has a tendency to interrupt me juuuuust when I’m getting into a flow of creativity.  It can be really hard to pick up where I left off, so I use a few jedi mind tricks to keep my productivity + creativity flowing.

Make space to create:

I try to consistently set aside time when I know I can create (9am/3 days a week for at least 30 minutes).  It seems so simple, right?  Since I have a baby under 1, those times are often interrupted or eliminated, but it helps to know that I am at least trying and that I have the time set aside just for my creative whims.  He won’t be a baby forever and I want to try to stick to the habit of consistently showing up for the work–I know if I can get my body there, my mind will follow.  And if I’m organized about it, I get even better results.

Get prepared:

I keep supplies easily accessible so that I can take advantage of a free 20 minute block.  I recently bought mini versions of a few of my most used supplies and store them in a totebag, so I can take it anywhere.

The supplies include:

  • A multi-media sketch pad
  • small box of favorite markers, pens and a few paint brushes
  • a small water palette
  • wax crayons (I can use them for heavy vibrant marks or create a watercolor effect from them)
  • gel medium
  • scraps of paper for collage

5 Organization Ideas That Help Me Be More Creative

This way I can create very easily without setting up a lot of stuff.  It has taken the pressure off of needing to only create in my studio because in the past, that’s where all of the supplies were.

Capture images as I go:

I try to take a lot of pictures and document what I do so I can use the images as backgrounds for social media graphics or add to posts later (especially when it’s an art in progress post!)

I try to take photos of everyday life that I know would make a nice background for my blog posts or social media graphics, too.   And the simpler the better–it doesn’t have to be a fancy picture, just something easy on the eyes and in focus always works great.  And don’t worry about needing some fancy equipment.  I take the pictures with my phone!  Most phones have a pretty amazing camera these days so I just use a lot of natural light and get snapping.

Simplify with batching (best organization idea hack):

I try to batch create when at all possible.  If I’m creating a graphic for a social media post or a blog post, I try to create a few at a time, even if it means I’m not going to use them right away.  I have a file folder in my dropbox (more on that below) that is literally labeled “not used yet” and it’s where I keep some images and graphics for future use.  It’s a total time saver!

“I love wasting time,” said no one, ever.

I create paintings in batches as well.  When I’m working on a piece, I usually have a few in rotation that I can go to when one is drying, that way I’m always working on something.  It not only helps keep the creative flow going, but I’m getting a lot done rather than sitting and watching paint dry (literally.)

Store images in a cloud:

Dropbox is my best friend.  There is a free version, but I pay for the monthly version because it gives me a lot more space.  I can access that sweet drive from anywhere!  Not only do I have it on my laptop, but I have it on my phone and I can immediately upload the pictures I take.  It makes creating social media graphics sooooo easy and fast.  Organizing everything into folders also helps keep everything in order and makes the images simple to use.

I don’t assume I’ll remember:

Here’s a simple but powerful organization idea: I try to write any good ideas down when they come up.  Not only do I have an app that will capture inspiration when it strikes (Hello my love, Google Keep) but I also carry around a small moleskine in my purse to make notes or sketches when they pop into my head.  It’s nothing fancy, it’s just to jot things down because sometimes the perfect idea comes to me when I’m in the shower.  You too? 🙂

Hope these ideas are helpful to you–here’s to being more creative!

Love, Steph

 

July 25, 2016|Art Stuff, Habits|

5 Easy Ways To Get Inspired {I use all of these!}

get inspired organization techniques

When I started painting, I realized that inspiration doesn’t have to be such an elusive thing.  A lot of times I would ‘wait’ for inspiration; I felt like there had to be the moment that inspiration strikes in order to create; but now I know that’s not true.

Inspiration doesn’t have to be something I chase down.  There are so many ways to create an environment where I can pull that creativity from the deep part of me that is looking to be expressed.  I just have to remember to actually use these handy tricks!

Here are some ways I get inspired, and maybe you can use these tips, too:

1. Make a gratitude list.

The best way I get my wheels turning in the right direction is to look at what is working.  I try to think about what I’m totally psyched about, what is really getting me excited these days + I write those things down feverishly in a simple list.  And these things can change from day to day so I put the list in a place I see a lot (usually on my to-do for the day) to remind me that I have a lot to be happy about.  So simple, right?  It really works.

2. Create a vision board or an inspiration board on Pinterest.

I find that the visual aspect of things has such a big impact on my mood, especially when I want to create new art.  Vision boards are something I’ve always used–collaging pictures and words onto poster board, beckoning those things into my reality (law of attraction anyone?)  They’re easy to make and a great reminder to display in any creative space.  Recently, I have found Pinterest to be such a cool alternative–it’s like an electronic vision board that I can pin things to from around the web.  Here’s my inspiration board if you want to follow along with me on my pinning journey.

3. Watch a Ted Talk on a favorite topic.  

Ted talks are a total mini pick me up.  They’re all 20 minutes or less, so it’s just enough to get the message across without getting boring. #winning  Here are a few good ones that I like:

4. Read a snippet of a great book

I love books I can just pick up and read a little of without diving into the entire thing.  Some good ones I use are:

5. Listen to some great tunes.  

I firmly believe in having a few theme songs–one that gets me going in the morning, one that pumps me up when we need a boost + one that calms me down when I need a hug.  I have too many to list, but here are a few:

Such simple ideas, right?  But using these tools each time I need a little inspiration has made all of the difference.  I hope they help you, too–happy creating!

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*This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything from the links but I only recommend products that I use + love myself.

August 25, 2015|Habits, Personal Development|

How I Organize My Day Off To Get Things Done. (Free Printable PDF!)

How I Organize My Day Off

I don’t know about you, but when I have a free day/day off/unscheduled time, I more often than not, totally waste it.  I’m much better when I have a structure, even if that means scheduling in time to relax!  Sounds ridiculous I know, but knowing this about myself has saved me many hours of frustration over lost opportunities to get stuff done.

The first step was figuring out my style.  I had a hard time admitting I couldn’t be that fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-kind-of-girl planner.  Are you better with structure, too?  Do you need to write out a detailed schedule or do you just need a basic blueprint?  I find the more detailed I get, the easier it is stay on schedule.

Which is kind of funny because being a bit on the artistic side, it seems like I would naturally hate that structure.  But I LOVE IT!  I’m a total list person–I love making them, I love checking off the items and then coming up with more–so I’ve come up with an easy way to become a free-day-ninja-task master of sorts.

Here’s how I structure a day off so that I can get the most out of it:

1) I make a master list of all the dreamy things I’d like to do.  I don’t limit this to ‘practical’ things that best suit my time, but more all of the things that are running around in my brain that need to get done.  It’s basically a brain dump so I can get a big view picture of what’s happening in my life.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to get to them that day, it’s just a way to get organized.

2) I then figure out my must-do’s for the day.  I workout most days, so I want to schedule time for that.  I also like to catch up with a buddy sometimes, so I put aside a little meeting time for that (lunch, anyone?)   I don’t ignore my everyday must-dos just because it’s a free day in front of me.

3) Then I cull out what I think I can actually get done that day by identifying the top 3 non-negotiables from the brain dump.  This to me is great, because I know no matter what, I’m going to get those three things done, so I make them the ones I really want to cross off the list.

4) Next, I set up a time schedule and literally block out my time.  The first items I put in are the top three non-negotiables, then I put in the must dos and last, I figure out what else I have time for.  I sprinkle those extras in throughout the day trying to gauge the realistic amount of time I actually have.  I find that when I put tasks in the time slots, they surprisingly get done!  This is where I know I need a schedule, because I’m pretty good at sticking to it when I have one.

5) Lastly, I always leave a little time in between tasks so that I have some room for flexibility.  I want to have a sense of ease on my free day, not like I’m being held to every. little. thing!  So that extra time gives me a little looseness in my schedule.

Here’s what I use for my list: (Want a free copy?  Click on the image to get access to my free resource library.)

Free Printable PDF on how to better organize your day! Click through to get yours.

 

The running list goes on the right, and I plug as much as I can handle into the slots on the left, depending on time.  It works because I see what I need to do, what I’m actually doing + what might need to get done another day all in one view.

(If this style appeals to you, click on the picture above and it will bring you to a page of it that you can print!  You need to print it in landscape mode, it will be on one half of the page.)

This may seem pretty simple, but man!  It gets me to organize my day.  As a result I feel relaxed and accomplished.  Total score!  And I don’t have an overwhelming schedule book to lug around–it’s just one simple sheet to keep me on track.

At the end of the day, I take a look at my list and see what I crossed off.  I transfer the running list for the next free day (or spare time) and I add the leftovers from the brain dump to my running Google Keep lists.  I use Keep for lists of not-everyday-sorts of things like: work that needs to get done around the house, tasks to move my art biz forward, big item shopping lists etc.

So there it is!  It’s the organization method I’m using that’s working now, but it’s always changing.  Want to try it out?  Sign up and get access to it in my free resource library!

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August 13, 2015|Habits, How To, Personal Development|

Happiness Is Not One Big Thing.

Happiness is not one big thing

 

This is a reminder to all of you out there that need a little boost.  It’s easy to think (and wish!) that happiness comes and perches on our shoulder and never leaves, but we all know there’s an ebb and flow to life; happiness is a part of that ebb and flow.  If we were happy all of the time, how would we ever truly appreciate it?

Happiness is a habit.  We must cultivate the feeling of being happy by doing, saying + thinking in positive ways.  Want to become happier?  Start hanging around happier people: it’s contagious.  And the opposite is true as well: be careful of those emotional vampires.  Surround yourself with people that raise you up.

As a special gift to my readers, I’m offering an inspirational PDF to print out and hang up for happy-inducing times.  It fits on an  8.5×11 sheet of paper and will be a bright reminder on even the grumpiest of days!

Click here for your Happiness PDF

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July 16, 2015|Habits, Personal Development, Quick Inspiration|

What You Focus On Will Grow.

Ever wonder how some people create exactly what they want in their lives? Click through for the secret on how you can learn to do this too.

While I was getting ready for the day this morning, a somewhat shocking thought popped into my head: I’m actually living the life I’ve always dreamed of.  I mean not everything is exactly as I want it to be, but for the most part it’s pretty great. I wanted a pretty simple life surrounded with the basics–a loving partner, comfortable home and meaningful work–and all of a sudden, I have all of that.  If someone had told me years ago when I was flying solo in my cozy apartment that I would feel this way , I might not have believed it.  It just always seemed like it would happen sometime in the future.

But these things didn’t happen by accident, I was taught how to draw them closer.

Growing up each summer before the school year started, I’d go on an annual goal setting luncheon with my mom and that really set the stage for a lot of my powerful, positive beliefs. It’s pretty simple: think good thoughts and good things happen.  I’ve seen it work over + over.  And even though I have always believed in affirmations, setting goals and putting ‘it’ out there in the universe, when these actual things come to pass?  It still feels a little bit like magic.

Because the saying is true–what you focus on, will grow.  When I’m in a bad mood, all I recognize is the nasty person on the check out line or the horrible events happening in the world.  When I’m in a happier, more intentional state of mind, it’s easy to recognize the sweet words from a friend or the magical luminosity of the full moon.  I see it again and again: I create my own reality.

So as I gear up for the next phase of my life–growing deeper in my relationship with Chris, working to make my art business bloom and sprucing up our little nest –I want to tattoo this phrase on my heart so I never forget.  What I focus on will grow.

I want to focus on guilt-free, gentle living.  I want to enjoy the birds and wildlife in my backyard and spend hours blissfully painting in my studio.  I want to love Chris up so much that he’s a puddle of calm.  It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

So what stops me from always being this way?

I started reading this book called The Big Leap last week and it talks all about this exact topic: what stops us from accepting that we could always be content, happy or satisfied?  The author insists that it’s about how we periodically reach what we believe is our own ‘upper limit’.  Which means this:  when we feel like we’ve gotten to what we believe is the level of happiness we deserve, we self-sabotage.  We stop the flow of happiness and good vibes right in their tracks; it’s as if we don’t believe we have the right to an endless well of good fortune.  And yet, we do.

So I try to remember: what if I let go of those old fears + boring script that runs around in my head and expected happiness as the norm?  It would continue to improve my life, and here’s the kicker–it would make other people’s lives better, too.  Because aren’t we are all encouraged by other people’s success and happiness?

I’m deciding to look at it as bravery to accept continual happiness as my right, even though it may feel a little arrogant at times.  And maybe it’s even my duty to show how you too, can be perpetually satisfied; all  you have to do is focus on what you really, really want.

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Related: Creating a vision board and How to create what you want

June 11, 2015|Habits, Personal Development|