Creativity Exercises and Practices That Will Help You Find Joy and Productivity
Non-artists may think that creativity ends at the easel. But we know better. While it is true that there are many artistic breakthroughs at the easel, they can also occur anywhere you are not near paint or a brush. Your creativity is your engine. You might have sporadic flashes of inspiration or new solutions to problems that you didn’t expect. You might also be a creative engine. These creative exercises, many inspired by Jane Dunnewold’s book Creative Strength Training, should help you in both of these areas. You’ll find a way for you to either start over or continue on your creative journey.
Spend 15 minutes drawing, sketching, painting, or marking-making with the non-dominant side of your hand. What will you notice? Everything. You will be more open to focusing with your non-dominant hand, even if it is difficult to do so. It will also make you see things in new ways. You will learn to appreciate the complexity of layers and textures and not take anything for granted. A couple of words of advice: Give yourself twice the space you normally work because non-dominant marks are less controllable. 2? Enjoy the chance to have happy accidents. You will see something amazing if you are open to it.
Do not watch the clock
Stress is a major enemy of creativity. It’s okay to feel a little pressure to create or do something. But don’t let it affect your ability to create. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for the passage of time. Keep the clock off of any creative project you have in mind or piece of art that you are trying to make. You don’t have to be in a hurry, but set a timer and stop checking your phone. You can only spend as much time as you have to be creative, no matter how short or long.
This is Jane’s book Creative Strength Training. I use the scavenger hunting approach whenever I have an idea for a series. It works every time! I have an idea that sticks around for long enough to get traction. Take the example of “boundaries”, the theme of a series that I created. I can delve into the subject further by having a free association. This is how it works: Write a word (I chose borders) at the top and bottom of a piece of paper. 2. The timer should be set for 2 minutes. 3. Write down any words that come to your mind during this time. Don’t edit. Write. List-making creates a wealth, words that can be visual images and words that have the potential to make content more powerful. I now move on to the acquisition images that are based upon the free-association lists. It is up to me to decide where I will take these associations, but the amazing process of “mining” for meaning has already begun.
Make a list of people, places, or objects that fall under a particular color. You can include the details of the objects or their specific textures and outlines. You can also paint a monochrome scene or object. You can make it a blue-only still life with a dish-filled sink, or a potted plant in a nearby red couch. To add more variety, make the color more dimensional. Not so one-note after all…!
Three times the charm
Artfulness is a virtue. Sketch an idea in three different ways. Try three different colors first before you decide on a color. You can paint a still-life only after placing and repositioning objects three times. Or you can keep them the same and paint a different composition, inspired by Cubism or Impressionism. After a while, it becomes clear that you don’t need to stop at three. Make it four. Make it 10. You will see the results of your efforts if you keep pushing your vision.
Mix Your Media
Although it’s old-fashioned advice, it is still a wise one. You will discover more creative avenues if you are willing to try new things. Start with the paper if you don’t know where to begin. Paint and collage work well together. For a Pop Art punch, cut out words. To make it more subtle, tone down the colors but add a lot of texture. The best thing is to make the most of what you have and then see what happens. You might have both pastel and watercolor on hand. You don’t have to keep your creative pursuits separate. They won’t be able to teach you anything new.