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Back to Basics : 5 Steps to Start (or Restart) Your Creative Practice

Most days, I am looking for little pockets of time to make art. Some time, just for me, to create -  with no end goal in mind - offers a chance for my hands to be busy while my brain chills a bit. 

These moments spent playing, building, creating are a break in my day to step away from the stress and busyness of life and work and other commitments, to reset my inner voice and invite peace and presence to find me in the moment.  

As I wrote about last week - I'm working to bring back my mostly daily creative habit back into balance. Reconnecting to this practice has reminded me of the value in the quick, no rules, no expected outcome exercise that is so different from the rest of my structured life. A chance to play and explore color, shape, materials and mediums - stepping away from my ever expanding to-do list and just BE in the moment. It’s by far my healthiest addiction, and anytime I stray too far from it - my brain, body, spirit and family all beg me to get back to it.

My best tips to get (re)started on your own creative journey. 

1. Set a timer, keep it short. Start with short daily doses of creativity. Most days, I do mine first thing after school drop off, with a cup of coffee or tea, for 10 – 15 minutes. Other days, if I’m not feeling so creative first thing – I’ll sneak it in right after lunch. Find a time that works for you, set a timer and keep it short and consistent. Eventually, you’ll find the benefits so amazing from this little sliver of time, you’ll start carving out more time in your schedule. Start small, start doable, start today.

2. Do it for the process, not the outcome. The goal of daily practice, or any creative habit in my book – is to enjoy the process. Creative practice increases joy + purpose, invites connection and reflection. It quiets anxiety and reduces stress. By calming your mind and focusing on the process, you’ll experience these moments of joy and fun daily – which will begin to carry over into the rest of your day.

This joy + fun, that's the point. The actual art you make? Sometimes will be terrible. Other times will be great. But that’s not for you to concern yourself with. Focus on the process, the benefits and let the outcome just be.

3. Make the setup special. I get inspired to create by working with beautiful supplies that make me happy just to be using them. I use a high-quality paper versatile enough for sketching to painting. Tools for marking from watercolors, indigo ink, markers and sketching pens. I keep my most favorite and used  supplies visibly in curated arrangements and make them part of our decor. This encourages both my daughter and I, and most days any visitors we have as well to spend a few minutes just playing. If that doesn’t work for your home, find a spot that keeps them neat, organized and grab-ready. The set up is an invitation to calm your mind and start your practice. If you’re scurrying about looking for materials daily, you’re less likely to enjoy the process and switch into happy creating mode as quickly. So pick a spot, gather your materials and make it inviting.

4. Set a goal for your practice. I am on a mission to increase FUN and decrease stress, especially this year. I approach much of life as work, with a crazy to-do list, usually forgetting to enjoy myself as I power through the tasks.

Creating daily is a natural connection to fun and joy. It reminds me to slow down and enjoy the moments as they go. For me, color is an instant shift into my happy place, so I focus on color exploration and unique combinations in my daily journal. Whatever your intention, get clear on it, and remind yourself of that each day as you begin your work.

It’s not about how “well” you do it, or how many likes you receive. It’s a needed output for your very soulful, very unique-to-you, self-expression. Your point of view. It’s putting curiosity in place of fear– as you put pen to paper, brush to canvas, hands to clay, feet to music, rolling pin to dough… we could go ON and on here ;)

5. Keep a bank of inspiration. Start a folder of coasters, cards, gift wrap, magazine swipe, photos, anything that inspires you. Curate a Pinterest board to catalog color combos or art that speaks to your soul. I use both methods and reference them often when I’m stumped for an idea. My work never looks like the inspiration, but it’s helpful to have a starting point – especially when you’re new to the practice.

My hope is that once you begin this journey – you’ll find the time well spent. The calm, joy, and beauty that this little practice invites into your routine will color the rest of your day. Leaving you inspired, looking for beauty and sharing your passion with others. Go make something!

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