For many of us creative pursuits are a luxury, something to be done on the weekend or at the end of the day when all the ‘important’ things are finished. Unfortunately that means we seldom get around to artistic pursuits because we are too tired and burnt out by the time we get some headspace.
The true beauty of it is that we can help ourselves by building habits into our day to coax the artist within to give us a fresh passion and perspective. Now that the pace of life has slowed for many of us because of the global pandemic, there has never been a better time to release our inner artists.
1 Be Intentionally Open to Being Creative
Many of us have been hardwired to believe artistic pursuits do not pay your bills and are a symptom of having your ‘head in the clouds.’ We tell ourselves and others that to live in the ‘real world,’ we have to be practically minded and if we really must indulge such activities we should do it outside of a job we don’t really like. This means we need to be intentional about being creative, to give ourselves permission to let the artist within out for a little air.
This is a really fun and liberating way of living. All the human made objects you see around you started as an idea or vision in someone’s mind – from architecture to sports cars someone had to live in the world of ideas, with their head in the clouds for a while at least. It’s part of the process. Give yourself permission to begin. Tell yourself the right kind of story. Be intentionally open to being creative. Start to really see things instead of just looking at them. Get a sense of what Frederick Franck meant when he wrote, “Merely looking at the world around us is immensely different from seeing it.”
You are effectively telling your brain that it needs to be more aware, to see a bigger picture. You are giving your brain permission to be creative, and unconsciously it will be processing ideas which later come out as ‘inspiration.’
2 Stop Working so Hard
For artists (aspiring or otherwise) creativity often knocks at the door when you aren’t trying. The American artist Barnett Newman complained that his wife didn’t understand that he was working while sitting in an armchair smoking and staring out of the window. Einstein apparently had his best ideas while shaving. Other people have their best ideas while driving or running a familiar route, or like Newman sitting in a favourite armchair. While you may not be trying to compute cosmic calculations you can definitely be open to solutions about your improving painting techniques, and rendering your subjects in novel ways.
3 Create a Physical and Mental Workspace
Find a physical space where you can paint. It doesn’t have to be a huge studio or even a whole room. Clear a corner somewhere you feel comfortable and set up an easel. If you love the outdoors and have the right weather go into nature or your back garden, even your shed. As long as it’s a place you’ll want to go back to time and again. Somewhere you associate with enjoyment and peace of mind. If necessary get some cheap plastic sheeting to keep the paint off walls and furniture to eliminate possible worry.
Creating a pleasant physical place will help your mind associate making art with pleasure and keep you free from distractions.
As the great Sufi poet Hafiz wrote, it will help you “Change rooms in your mind for a day.” Hopefully a lot longer.
Not only will you clear out a physical space you could find that you also experience something of what the highly successful businessman Dee Hock writes, “Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”
4 Feed Your Inner Artist the Right Diet
While it’s important at times to stop trying to force creativity it’s also true that we need to intentionally feed our inner artist. Read books and poetry, watch films that give your brain material to work on. Draw your inner artist out by paying attention to artworks, and various art forms. Daytime TV is probably not going to help much here. Neither is Social Media overload so choose carefully what you feed your artist with.
One of the funny things about our minds is that when you stop focusing on something, for you it all but disappears. You really do get more of what you focus on. If you just focus on paying the bills you forget about finding creative ways to help you pay those very bills. If you shut down your inner artist and close your mind to creative possibilities, you get more and more shutdown of creative possibilities. If we focus on creativity we get more creativity.
5 Build Mindfulness into your Day
We all know that mindfulness is good for us, but spending long periods of time meditating isn’t for everyone.
It is possible to build mindfulness into our daily routine in various ways however. Intentionally slow down. Think of how each morsel you eat tastes. Consider how the light behaves in your surroundings. Take a few moments to pick an inspirational quotation and really break it down, asking yourself how you might apply it to your life. Artists do these things naturally while creating, but try to practise these things when you aren’t making art too for maximum impact. Adopting an approach of reverence and gratitude for the world around us can only lead to greater creativity. As well as aiding your digestion.