Committing time to painting or creating every day is just as difficult as the countless other commitments we set ourselves. Whether its sticking to our business plans, fitness goals, or simply keeping on top of all of that “adulting”, life often gets in the way.
Painting shouldn’t be the first thing to get put on the back seat when things get tough. Why is it that when we’re struggling, we make ourselves feel worse by cutting the joy out of our lives?
What if your art could become that drive that gets you out of bed in the morning? What does it take to formulate, start and more importantly, stick to an art habit? Even though I try to paint once a week, there are times when it gets put off, pushed back and crossed off the list for simply being “too difficult”.
We forget that art can be great therapy. When creating, you’re often so focused on the task at hand: choosing the colours, the medium, the lens and the lighting of you’re a photographer, that you can almost forget what’s going on around you.
Having personally dealt with chronic pain for many years, I’m setting myself a little goal for 2020 to use painting in a more constructive way, for the times when I need it the most. Some of the ways I’m going to do this are listed below, and might just help you on your creative journey too.
Cut Out The Distractions
Turn off those damn notifications, stop looking at celebrities or guinea pigs or food on Instagram. Switch off, unplug, shut the door if you must.
Put On Your Favourite Tunes
We’ve all got a collection of silly songs or mood-boosting classics that we turn to in times of need. Silence can be the loudest sound of all, so drown it out!
Embrace The Bubble
Let yourself get engrossed in whatever you’re doing. Don’t worry about the lunch you have to cook later, the washing in the machine or the dog – she’s probably lying right behind you anyway. Give yourself plenty of creative time, empty your thoughts and go where the muse takes you.
Clean Your Space – Before and After
They say getting started is the hardest part, right? But have you ever wondered why this is? Is it because you can’t find your brushes, you haven’t got the right colour, or you’ve got a mountain to move before you can even sketch? Get yourself motivated by giving your creative space some organisation, and you’re half-way there already. When you’re done for the day, clear everything away and putting everything in its place so you’re ready to go again tomorrow.
Take plenty of photos before, during and after so that you can look back at how much you got done. Write about your thought process while you were painting, what you felt at the time, what you were listening to, and you can even give yourself a little review at the end.
Change The Narrative
I don’t wish to sound like a self-help book or a life coach but changing the narrative could be just what you need to give yourself a metaphorical kick up the bum. Having a bad day? Turn it into a creative one. Feeling lazy? Get outside. Instead of beating yourself up over what you haven’t done, focus on what you can do, or what you did achieve that day.
Hold Yourself Accountable
You don’t need to justify how much – or how little – you got done to anyone but yourself. But showing up creatively and consistently is a great way to turn it into a positive habit.
Start With One
Just like a good biscuit, what starts as one easily becomes another, and another. Start with one sketch, one watercolour, one blog idea, one inspiration session, and you’ll soon be able to do more.
Create Precisely When You Don’t Feel Like Creating
Pretty much what’s already been said above, that showing up can be the first and hardest hurdle. While it might be easier to tune in to Netflix or to simply eat your way through the kitchen, will you feel better at the end of the day? Instead get up, grab that paintbrush and just get started.
Paint The Truth
A painting of a landscape or a flower often holds far more than what you as the viewer can see. Be honest with yourself about what you’re painting and why, and let how you feel influence your brushstrokes, your colour choices. Let the painting tell the story.
I’m setting myself a goal to explore this new way of working at least once a month. That one time in the month when I really don’t feel like committing is the time that I’ll force myself to do it. I might start by writing down a concept, a thumbnail sketch or a watercolour. Then, I’ll use those first ideas as a jumping off piece for a painting: however simple, however small.