Today's post is something I am especially passionate about because I firmly believe that we all have creativity within us, from visual, music or performing, to culinary or entrepreneurial, and with the right circumstances and surroundings our inner creator soars!
Since I am a visual artist, I want to share with you 10 ways that I have found to tap into and excite that specific part of your brain to get it bubbling and overflowing with new ideas. And honestly, a lot of these tips could be slightly reworded to satisfy all kinds of inspo cravings for various creative enterprises. Hope you find some fodder for all your right-brained activities to come!
(And stay tuned because I'm working on an accompanying YouTube vlog that delves into each of these ideas a bit further!)
Here we go!
1 - Visit art in person: I know saying, 'Hey, look at art in order to be inspired to make art' can sound like a cop-out, but there really is something to experiencing artwork in person versus online. Go to a local art museum or gallery either alone or with another art-loving friend and really mull over any pieces that catch your eye, making sure to notice the brush strokes, scale, composition, chroma, and subject matter. Try to figure out what specifically about those works speak to you. Take photos if you're allowed and/or collect artist info for further artsy research. (Even though I'm a realist painter and this was a conceptual collection, I still had great sparks of inspo on my visit to the Honolulu Biennial)
2 - Pick up a new medium: This should be totally just for fun. It's really daunting to pick up something relatively new and make "good" art with it, so don't even try. At least at first simply approach the new medium like a first-year art student. You know, like just poking around with line work with a Chinese ink brush or doing tonal exercises in pastels. Same is true for 3D work as well. Make a pinch pot in clay or carve a spoon in wood. Doing an uncomplicated task that no one will ever see will jog your mental and physical muscle memory and open you up to feeling more confident when you do get that creative idea.
3 - Take a hike: Go outside and experience a little energetic awe as well as some of Mother Nature's most vibrant hues. If you're on the coast, take a beach walk; in the city, find a nice atrium or park or try to go camping for a weekend. Do whatever you need to do to be in nature mindfully. Just like when visiting artwork in person, the absolute best way to do it is either alone or with someone who shares that wavelength. Trust me, it's no fun to go on a soulful inspiration quest with someone who's uninterested or gets bored with these precious activities. Even as a predominantly figure and portrait artist, I still garner so much artistic inspo from being outdoors. (Photo from my Kuli'ou'ou Ridge hike a few months ago - #luckywelivehawaii for real!!)
4 - Play artistically with a child: Kids are little original-idea factories! I used to teach after school art classes to kids aged 4 to 16 and, especially with the younger ones, I was always delightfully floored with the wacky creatures and scenarios they would come up with when painting or drawing, or even journaling and sculpting!
A really good way to get those creative juices flowing is by active storytelling in which the child/children are illustrating a story that you are making up together. Kids are the best for trying new mediums together too because whatever you make will look incredible to them! A built-in cheerleading squad will help you get your feet wet!
5 - Give it a break: That's right, a good way to get artistically inspired is to stop trying to get artistically inspired. Go read a book or do some yoga or organize your studio or learn to juggle. Maybe even for a few days. Sometimes forcing the next 'great idea' will actually do the opposite since our brains can freeze under too much pressure.
That being said, any professional artist will tell you at some point you must 'paint through the pain' and keep working in order to maintain all the hard work flow that goes into being a successful artist, but little breaks are ok. Hopefully you'll have some emails to send, blogs to write, or art supplies to shop for that will make your time away from the studio productive still. (I'm an avid hula hooper in my free time; it's a wonderfully meditative yet energetic way to free my dancing spirit!)
6 - Check up on your favorite artists: Assuming you have favorite living artists still producing work, go pop in on their websites and blogs. See what they're doing these days as far as subject matter, themed group shows, workshops, or possibly even changing up and evolving their styles a bit. If you don't have favorite living artists, go find some!! There are sooooo many incredible people creating so many great works in this day and age.
Some good ways to find new artists are by following up on any works that stood out from shows you've seen in person, by following and subscribing to contemporary art mags (like Juxtapoz, Art Collector Magazine, Aesthetica, or ARTnews), and by surfing social media like Instagram to see what your like-minded friend folks are liking (find me on there too! @caleighbirdart).
7 - Go somewhere new: Plan a trip to someplace you have never been. It can be anything from a week in Tuscany to an afternoon stroll through those local botanical gardens you've been meaning to see. Anything that gets you out of your usual element or routine will help rejuvenate the creative flow. If you embark on your new adventure alone, feel free to bring some contemplative or relaxing music along. When I was able to spend four whole days at the Louvre in 2015 I listened to just about every piece Chopin ever composed!
8 - Join a creative crowd: Put yourself around other creative people. Help a fellow artist with a project, attend an art lecture or art opening; join a book club or attend a poetry slam. Just be in the same space while other artistic ideas are being discussed, performed, or shared and you will soak up tons of inspo like a sponge. And not to mention, you might even make a new artsy friend!
9 - Watch your favorite visually beautiful movies: Enough said, really. We artists are emotional and visual creatures so digging down deep to tap into those heartfelt passions and buried feelings should absolutely stir our love for creation. For this exercise stick with movies that are shot and edited so gorgeously that you have to catch your breathe every single time you watch them. A few that come to mind for me are Hero, Avatar, Fantasia, and basically everything directed by Wes Anderson.
10 - Attend a new kind of art class: This one is similar to trying out a new medium, but in this case you might use a familiar medium but in a different way. I'll use myself as a figurative oil painter for an example. If I wanted to change it up, maybe I would sign up for a plein air landscape painting course. Or focus on my drafting skills by taking a still life painting workshop. The difference between this one and Number 2 is that since you're actually paying money to sign up for a class, you will hopefully be challenged over an extended period of time and will gain new skills to go along with your new inspiration.
Well, I hope this list helps :) I know after I enjoy any of these activities I come back to my studio bursting with color or design or subject inspiration, whether or not I was even seeking it to begin with!
We really do live in an amazing time on an incredible planet surrounded by epic adventures and glorious people. Each of us has the ability to focus our energy into learning how to tap into that higher creative vibration which is absolutely there for the riding! Woo Hoo!
What are some great ways you have found to tap into your inner artist? Leave me some tips in the comments!
originally posted: July 22, 2017