Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stirring the Cauldron – How to remain creative.

Following from my “Day in the Life” blog, I thought I’d list some of the methods which help me and artists that I know (of all methods of expression) remain creative.

Note: I find that, for most of these methods to help the creative process, you need to state the problem clearly to your mind or, having just wrestled with it, leave it alone and just enjoy the activity.

Be active -Take a long walk, take a long drive, take a shower or a bath, take a swim. If walking or driving, deliberately try to notice your surroundings. Such activities which require repetitive action (walking, swimming) or subconscious action (driving) either activate the Right Side of the Brain or allow it time to breathe and are a staple of most artist’s repertoire -especially writers when blocked.

Doodle – it gets the mind and hand working in co-ordination on a much simpler problem and the right brain engaged. When working at its best, doodling creates an outlet for the brain’s workings, so the solution ,may present itself (it worked for the Google founders who created the concept on a napkin!)

Be Passive- Watch a favourite movie, read a magazine (especially one on art or otherwise visually exciting), read a novel (I find fiction best) or a coffee table book. Exciting visual stimulus and activating the imaginative juices while reading, when directed in an alternative way to your painting problem at hand, can often get the solution – alternative methods of expression, original ideas, a starting point to tease out - front and centre of your conscious mind.

Meditate – clearing the mind and focusing on the present allows the demands of the gallery, the possible thoughts of what critics might say or the rejection by judges in an art competition, or the inability to sell your paintings and the consequent fear of failure to reduce its influence on your work and fade away.

Develop a ritual – notice or remember how you went about a successful painting and try to reinvent the situation that occurred, if possible. Or start a routine that you think may work and follow it daily so you can provide the safety net which allows creativity to happen. Easier said than done, but give it a go. For around 20 days (that’s how long it takes for new behaviour to become habit).

Alternatively, if your life has become so routine that you always take the same route and see the same people and do the same things – change the routine. Follow a lane way to see where it ends up, meet new people, put yourself out of your comfort zone (I took the parachute ride at Wonderland to conquer heights and to see what it was like), browse in a shop you’ve never set foot in, find an alternative route for that walk or to work/the studio (or reverse it – it’s never the same both ways).

What methods have you come up with to get the creative juices flowing? Post your comment here.


  1. Interesting post. For me, having a nine to five job helps. After 5 days of traveling to and from work, furious drawing in my sketchbook and lots of daydreaming (at work ha ha) I can't wait to get back to the studio. I could wallow in self pity about not having enough studio time but I've learnt to take advantage of a not so ideal situation.

  2. I agree that working elsewhere can be a great catalyst. My ideal is to have a satisfying job about 2-3 day per week - takes the financial pressure off, and stimulates the creativity because you can't wait to get to the studio! It's been beyond my control, lately, and I won't do something I don't like as I find it depletes my energy. I have also found that, for me, spending more time in the studio than I may want (esp when the work isn't going so well), pushes me to find something new (within my genre, interests and style) or die of boredom-so it can work both ways. One thing I have learnt is: nothing is ideal and nothing is static. We just need to do what we can with what we've got! Thanks for the comment and happy painting!



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