It is easy to get into a rut when being creative. It seems like this year has made it more of a challenge with all the drama 2020 has presented us. Here is the thing when I am creating something I am in my happy place. So why is it difficult to just get started sometimes. Sometimes it seems I just don’t have the energy to create or I am having a bad day I just don’t feel like creating something. Yet, the fact remains - I am happiest when I am creating. So why do I let things get in my way from enjoying my art. It's is a great question one that I have not found the answer to, but I have figured out a few ways I force myself into the right frame of mind to get started and motivate myself to pick up a pencil and go.
When I am at my laziest, I am typically laying down and scroll through my social media feeds which inevitably are filled with other artists work. In the past I would let my negative talk pipe up saying "Wow look at how amazing they are - you can never reach that level. You are just not that talented to create amazing things like this". Usually when I start saying that to myself, I simply scroll past the image and keep going sinking deeper into my laziness. One day I stopped on one of the works of art I thought was amazing and I took some time to look at the artists gallery. I scrolled back to things they had done a few years ago and I was surprised how much their art had changed. That is when my positive thoughts started speaking louder - "Wow look at where they started and how much they have improved over time - I can do that". I also noticed that the comments the artist was making on their posts in the past were exactly how I was feeling about my work now. This made me believe I was on track and it was possible to get better. Looking at another artist work can help inspire new techniques that they are doing but you want to create something similar in your own work. For example, there is an artist that seems to make the eyes of the portraits they make glow. I zoomed in on what colors they were using where they were placing the colors and I wondered how I could do that. That was the spark - when I get to the point of saying to myself, I wonder if I can do it, then I know I am about to get creative.
When I don't know what I want to create I tend to look around for online classes I can take that will teach me something new. I am a sucker for trying a new medium or using the tools I have in a way that I have never done before. I spend time looking around for classes that inspire me. Lately I have been interested in learning more about creating realism in eyes. I have been consuming lots of content on the subject and studying what others do and how I can take what they teach and add it to my next project. My practice partner Kathy creates reference cards from notes she’s taken in a class. She keeps them handy by storing them in a Rolodex type file. There have been many times when we are talking about getting inspired or perhaps one of us are stuck on an issue. She pulls out her card file and finds an awesome nugget that helps keep us going. Every teacher has a few guiding rules they live by and are compelled to teach the world - those are the nuggets that are great to keep notes on because you never know when that nugget will make more sense to you. I cannot tell you how many times in the past I had heard from a teacher "it’s about the value not the color that matters". That comment never made sense to me until recently. Inspiration can strike you by going back through your previous classes and looking at the notes you made or even the class syllabuses and you will find a line or two that will spark your creative fire again.
When I am feeling a bit melancholy, I pull out my old work. I like to go through old sketchbooks and my drawer that is full of projects I did from 5 years ago. I do this about once or twice a year. What this does for me is help me see I am not a failure - as my Daddy always put it "You are a failure when you stop - It can't be a failure if you are still working". My Daddy is big on long lectures to teach you something, but I will give you the cliff notes of this lecture. He basically explained that no matter where you are now it doesn't have to be the place where you end at. You make the choice. If you are unhappy with what you are doing, then choose to take action. This lecture was given when I was on the high school girls basketball team and I was sad that I was so much shorter than the other girls and could never make a basket as easily as they could. So, the message that day was about how I started to play basketball for a reason (I really enjoyed it) but why was I allowing myself to feel like a failure because making baskets are a challenge for me. I had the choice to figure out how to get better at making baskets or I could make the choice to quit or I could choose to continue feeling sorry for myself that everyone else is better than me. He would always end his lectures with "It is your choice . . . and you get to live with your choice." That line has always stuck with me - maybe because he told me that line a million times, but it really makes more sense to me now. So again, when I am stuck getting started on a project I look back at my old work and see that I have made progress and I can get better. Seeing how the progress changed in a short amount of time gets me excited to see what will happen in the next 6 months after more practice.
What gets you excited to create something new today.
What's happening in the Corner . . .
We are now focusing our attention on coloring eyes because it's amazing how something so small can add so much emotion or attention to the image you are coloring. Big or small, there are details that will help you color successful eyes every time.
If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Eyes here.
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