How many of you do more than one art or craft form?  I do--sometimes I have to rein myself in, because I could easily get seduced by every need-to-buy-new-supplies craft that comes along.

This week, I'd like to examine the ways our various creative activities inform each other.  I'm interested in finding out if perhaps we can purposefully choose activities that give a boost to each other--not just the expected creative pairs like painting and drawing or writing fiction and writing memoir.  I'm interested in more obscure, less expected pairings.

Make a list of your creative pursuits. Make sure you include things like dancing, cooking, gardening--anything you do that may fall outside the typical things we think of when we think about creativity.  Then examine ways these activities might influence each other.  Look for the subtle, maybe even subconscious ways this happens, and also consider ways you might purposefully help these connections to occur.

Have fun with this.  Consider it a chance to play with all your creative loves.  Let me know what you discover about how your creative activities play together.

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Anyone else having a Frankie Goes to Hollywood moment?  Anyhow...

Starting with that list of five ways to relax I planned on coming up with.  First on my list, and sorely neglected lately--reading.  I used to read constantly, going through at least two or three books every week, sneaking a paragraph or two in whenever I could.  But life got busy, and I kept thinking I needed to do other things before having reading time, and then I'd always be too tired by the time it was the time I told myself I was allowed to read.

I have to admit, reading is the only list item I actually gave attention to this week.  I thought of a few other things that might go on the list--dancing, knitting or embroidering.  And that's where my list ended.  Nothing else I came up with sounded like anything I'd really manage to turn to for relaxation.  I'm going to keep working on that list, though, but I was kind of surprised and a little sad that I could only think of three things.

This brings me to the next bit--why don't we give ourselves time and permission to relax?  For me, it's this constant idea that I need to be doing something else, something I'm "supposed to" be doing, something "useful."  Show of hands--how many of you found similar thoughts and attitudes roaming in your own heads?

I also found that even when I was trying to do a relaxing activity, I couldn't sink in and really relax because my mind was skipping ahead to when I'd have to stop and get back to those "useful" activities.

That's how my week went.  No real answers, lots of questions.  Plenty more to think and write about.

I'd love to hear your experiences with relaxation.  I'd like to delve deeper into this and examine the idea that relaxing isn't a useful activity.  Anyone else interested in pursuing this with me?  Drop me a note and let's talk.

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Today is not Tuesday. You may have already noticed this.  I noticed it, too.  This morning.  Right after realizing that yesterday was Tuesday, and I forgot to post a new theme for the week!  It's been hectic like that inside my brain.  That's why I decided on this topic for the week instead of the one I had been looking at (we'll get to that one another time).

I've been aware, off and on, that I need to make room for more regular downtime.  I sometimes have periods where I don't have anything pressing to do, but I tend to fill that time with busy work or fretting over the fact that I feel like I should be doing something.  I don't take that time, or any other time, to recharge my batteries, fill my well and re-energize myself.  And I need to!  We all do.

This week, lets all take some time to figure out how to get in some good relaxation time more often.  First, let's start with ways to relax and recharge.  Our task here will be to come up with at least five ways to relax and recharge (more is even better!)  Try to come up with some things you can do to relax that you don't normally do.

Next, look at why you don't give yourself all the downtime you might need.  What are some factors that keep you from relaxing and recharging regularly?  Is there anything you can do about them?  Make a list of things that tend to get in the way of your R&R time, and try to come up with at least one thing to do about each item.

If you'd like some company on your relaxation exploration, leave a note here about what your challenges are.  Maybe together we can come up with some creative solutions to get more lounge time in our lives!

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This week was awesome!  The main thing I found out--fearlessness snowballs!  Really.  I started out earlier in the week finally trying an inkjet transfer:

For the fishies, I used Transfer Ink from Stewart Superior.  This stuff is fantastic!  I used it on bristol board and did the transfer over a watercolor wash. I think the colors would transfer more brightly on plain paper, but I like the slightly muted, underwater effect for my fishies since it fits perfectly with my plans for the finished piece.

My idea when I started this fearless week was to try this inkjet transfer method and also a gel medium transfer.  But I think my great results with the fishies boosted my confidence.  I found myself suddenly, finally jumping in to do an actual mixed media painting--my first outside an art journal!

I also found myself spontaneously working on my story planning.  I suddenly wasn't so worried about getting it right the first time through.  I was deeply, intensely interested in getting ideas down so I would have something to work with.

I'm planning to ride this wave of fearlessness forward, to keep stretching my boundaries and trying new things.  I suspect that fearlessness is something you need to keep practicing regularly in order to keep reaping the rewards, but I think it will get a little easier the more you practice pushing outside your comfort zone.

Did you find ways this week of getting fearless?  What did you try?  If you didn't get started this week, though, there's no need to worry.  There's always time to get fearless right now!  Sit down, grab a pen and paper, and write down three things you might like to try.  Then, give yourself a push and jump in.  Trust me, it's worth it.

Have another fearless week!  See you Tuesday for the next experiment launch.

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote here about working through our fears and anxieties.  I mentioned that one thing that happens to me is that I get anxious, I put off projects, and I end up not having enough time to actually do the projects the way I really want to.

I've heard from quite a few people saying they run into similar troubles.  Fear and procrastination--double whammy!  Let's break through that this week.

Let's get fearless!

That's right, we're going to take a clue from the fabulous Connie at Dirty Footprints Studio !

Here's our challenge--we're going to pick something we've always wanted to try but keep putting off because we're afraid we won't get it right.  For me, it's art journal and collage layering techniques.  I love the look of pages layered in color and images and papers. (I'll put in a list of links at the end.)

So this week, I'm going to give myself time to play, and I'm going to try out some image transfer techniques in my art journal.  What are you going to give yourself time and space for this week?  Leave a note here, and we can all cheer each other on.  Have fun!

Art journal links:

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I started the year with three intentions, three words to focus on.  Create, Explore, Thrive.  This week, revisiting my intentions and examining them, has actually been really helpful.  I hope it worked that way for you, but if not, don't give up.

Here's what I learned this week:

Create--that's been going well on one level, but I have to admit I need more focus in my creating.  I've been having fun, creating bits of art and writing as the whim strikes, but I haven't been working on the projects that actually mean the most to me.

Explore--also going pretty well, although I think I did more in the first few months of the year than I have in the past couple of months.  I need to pay more attention to the ruts I fall into and also follow up when I find something new that intrigues me.

My final intention, thrive, is the one that needs the most attention.  I realized that this one very strongly and directly influences the other two, which makes focusing on it even more important.  This week I focused a lot on how I'm going to make this intention bloom for the rest of the year.

This report may seem like I've failed, or at least fallen short, with my intentions.  Your own list might be looking like that to you, too.  This impression is completely wrong, though!  We're doing fine.

The important part about intentions, especially longer term monthly or yearly intentions, is revisiting them regularly.  We mustn't expect to set intentions and then magically have our lives realign so that we're always living within the realm of our intentions.  Intentions are guides, like lines on a map.  Sometimes, you look away from the map and go off track.  But then you look at the map again, correct your course, and keep moving forward.

Yeah, that's a lot of metaphor.  It's also true.  Your intentions are always there for you to revisit and revamp.  Don't be discouraged if your list looks like mine, and you aren't quite where you hoped you'd be at the beginning of the year.  The fact that you're thinking about this means you're still in the game.

How to get started on your intention revamp?

Look at your successes.  Were there parts that were easy?  What made them that way?  What made the not-so-easy parts rough? Use what you discover to help you decide what things you want to do next and how you want to do them.

Next, if you have more than one intention or focus, see how they're connected to each other.  This will let you find activities that can blend your intentions and help keep you more focused on them.  For example, from my intentions I found that cooking can work to combine all three.  Cooking is creating while trying new recipes is exploring, and making healthful, satisfying foods helps me thrive.  You don't always need to connect all your intentions in one activity, but if you can find a way to do it sometimes, it's quite gratifying.

One last thing you might want to consider--make sure your intentions are still things you want to pursue.  Often when we don't quite meet goals we've set for ourselves it's just that we need a bit of adjustment to our techniques, but sometimes it's because the goals weren't quite what we really wanted.

That's it for this week.  Take where you are now, review your intentions, don't get discouraged, and let yourself move forward from here.  Revisit, revamp, restart!

See you Tuesday!

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This back-to-school time of year with its hints of new beginnings and nearly infinite possibilities just gets me so excited to do things and accomplish things and start things!  It also makes me want to buy notebooks and pens, but we won't talk about that little addiction just now.

I decided to take that new beginning vibe in the air and use it to look at the intentions I set for this year--Create, Explore, Thrive--see how I'm doing with them and make some changes or additions as needed.

Our homework this week: take stock of our intentions for the year, figure out where we are, what we've already done, what we'd like to do for the rest of the year.  And maybe buy a new notebook and pen to make notes about it all!

Leave a comment and let me know if you're up for a reevaluation of things and a late-year motivation boost, and we can do this together.

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On Tuesday, I started us off by asking several questions about fear and creativity. As I moved through my week and started my project, I decided to concentrate on two of those questions:

  • What in your creative life causes you fear or anxiety?
  • Can you still create when you’re feeling very fearful and anxious?

These seemed like the most important ones to me at the moment. I do want to address the other questions at some point. I'll probably also revisit these, but for now these are the insights I have about them.

I used supplies and techniques and even colors I haven't tried before.

As far as what causes me fear and anxiety, the major issue I face is a great fear of not doing it right, whatever “it” is. Of getting it wrong, messing up, being laughed at because I was so far away from right. I get so worried that I'm not going to get it right or not even know how to begin getting it right that I put off starting projects until the very last minute. Of course, this ensures that whatever I do isn't going to be as good as it could be, so on some level this fear turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm not completely sure on the answer to the second question, but I'm leaning toward “yes.” I do think you can still create even when you're feeling anxious, at least most of the time. You just might need to experiment to find out how to make it happen for yourself.

I've found that, for me, starting is the hardest part. I found that I was falling back into my normal procrastination routine, bogged down by the worry that my page wasn't going to be “good,” so I really had to coax myself to work on it this week. Here are a few of the things I did to get going:

  • I laid out my materials including my journal which I left open to the page I wanted to work on. I kept this where I would see it a few times during the day so that it would stay in my consciousness. In a way, it was as if my mind was working on it even when I wasn't touching it, so once I did sit down with it I think it was a little easier to just dive in.
  • I used a lot of conscious self-talk to calm my fears. I mostly returned to two arguments in favor of working on my page. “It doesn't matter if it's bad. If you really hate it, you can rip this page out of the journal and start over, and no one will ever know.” “This is an experiment using things you've never tried before. It's supposed to be a bit awkward and feel strange. The main point is to do something even in the face of your fears.”
  • I acknowledged that I was anxious and uncomfortable, and I told myself over and over that this was okay.

What did I learn this week? There's nothing wrong with being nervous. We're creatives. We are constantly pushing the edges of our comfort zones and our knowledge zones. That's going to bring on some nervousness, especially during those times when we're making particularly big pushes outside our boundaries. This nervousness is okay; it means we're doing really creative work!

I'm coming to believe that the important thing is not necessarily to get rid of all nervousness and anxiety. I'm not even sure that's possible. Yes, it's great to work on believing in yourself and your talents and believing you can and will do the things you set out to do. But for actually getting the work done, building up a body of work to help us build that confidence, I believe the important thing for us to do is find ways to create even when we're nervous about it. So work on finding some good self-talk for yourself when you're caught in the anxiety. Bribe yourself with treats or music downloads or something small that you like—I work very well for an M&M reward! Work in small bursts, 10-20 minutes (followed by that reward!).

Keep pushing forward, past those boundaries and your fears, and I think it will all start smoothing out and become more rewarding and fun. Just keep trying and remind yourself of this: if you want to get to your dream destination, you have to to keep moving no matter what.

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I suppose I should have called this "New Directions and Fears," but the words didn't have quite the same flow that way.  But I'm going to talk about the new directions first.

I don't have all the details hammered out, but I do know that I'd like to take this blog in some new directions.  For the past several months, we've looked at how we can fit creativity into our weeks in small bursts by trying out different art experiments.

I don't want to do away with the experiments at all, but I do think that I want to mix in some other things.  I'd like to spend some time delving into creative issues that we all face.

So, this week I'd like to have a look at fear and how it affects creativity and productivity.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, too, so I'll start us off with a few questions to get the conversation rolling.

  • What in your creative life causes you fear or anxiety?
  • What one thing would you especially like to get over your fears about?
  • How does fear or anxiety affect your productivity?
  • Can you still create when you're feeling very fearful and anxious?
  • What are some things you do (or could you do) to get past your fears or work around them?

I'll be working on these questions this week, too.  On Sunday, I'll post my thoughts so far on the subject.  I hope you'll spend a little time contemplating this and maybe writing your own posts on the subject.  If you do, post the links here or after Sunday's post so we can get the conversation rolling.

See you Sunday!

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After a nice week of plan-free relaxing, I'm back!   And I'm so excited it's August!  August is my favorite month--call me weird, I just love that back to school feeling in the air.

I didn't do a lot of art journaling this week since I ended up participating in the 30 Journals 30 Days project over at Dirty Footprints Studio (see my previous post for links to my interview where you can see a picture of how this page looked in its early stages), but I did do an August page to kick off my favorite month:

One of my favorite things about this page is that it started as the next page of my goal setting project.  When I decided that wasn't working for me, I left my journal open to this page so I could let my brain start toying with ideas about how to reclaim the page for something different.  And today, when I saw August 1 on the calendar, I knew exactly what this page was for.   And here it is!

That's all for me.  I'm feeling ready to dive into August.  I'll be back Tuesday with some plan for the next fun thing to do over here.  See you then!

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