still life with roses and cup

My top 10 creative hacks to get making again

Creativity ebbs and flows and after a busy patch doing something else it can be hard to get back into it. Sometimes the business side of art, other work, and life has to come first for a bit. I've been reflecting on what's helped me in the past and I thought I would share my thoughts with you - I know I'm not alone in needing some inspiration (and a kick in the pants)! I'd love to know what works for you - feel free to add ideas in the comments...

1. A REWARD FOR GETTING GOING

Still life photo-art of roses, a fan, and a steaming mug
"Once upon a time" - still life photo-art with my favourite bunny mug and roses Hayley Westenra and Windemere.
Photo-art teacher Sebastian Michaels taught me that you have to turn up, and keep turning up, for your muse to arrive. She won't take you seriously unless you take yourself seriously too. I like to hook in a reward for turning up - something as simple as a cup of coffee or tea in a special mug first thing in the morning can get me out of bed and ready for action. For a long time I was starting every morning with art, but somehow I got out of the habit. This is probably the number one thing I need to remedy in my quest to get creative again. Sebastian's 21-days to creative abundance is a good kick-starter. I also love Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Big magic: creative living beyond fear". Might be time for a re-read... 

2. THE TIME IS NOW

Photo-art of a steampunk parrot with flowers in her beak and a clock face
"It's about time (kākā)" - photoart
There's no point waiting for the perfect time to get creative - there is no better time than now, even if just for a few minutes. Waiting for the perfect time means so many lost opportunities. I find when the perfectionism/procrastination ramps up so that I find I'm waiting for the perfect time, when it arrives I'm out of practice and risk squandering the opportunity. A little bit more often, even if not ideal, means I'm more likely to have days when I find my muse and get into the zone.

3. MESSAGE A TRUSTED FRIEND

Portrait of Hannah Shand looking up for inspiration surrounded by pretty bokeh
The creative and talented bird artist Hannah Shand
It makes a big difference touching base with artist friends regularly to inspire each other with plans and schemes and to bounce ideas around. I'm blessed to have a couple of artist friends that regularly check in and are quick with positive encouragement. We all need people in our lives that believe in what we're doing, especially for those times when we don't believe in ourselves. 

4. TAKE A LONG SHOWER AND ZONE OUT

raindrops
A shower of raindrops, with one drop caught perfectly in midflight.
​​I've had all my best ideas in the shower. Nothing beats an enveloping spray of warm water to relax the mind and to let it wander. 

5. TRY A NEW ART MEDIUM

Grunged photo of art supplies
Art supplies in my studio.
Seeing a favourite subject in a new way can help, and what better way to feel enthused than a visit to the art store for new and interesting art supplies. My life was forever enriched when pastel artist Karen Rankin Neal put me onto shimmery Pan Pastels and Dahler Rowney pearlescent inks! It's what took me from a purely digital world into experimenting with Giclee print embellishment, mixed media, and big messes.

6. DO A CREATIVE COURSE

Framed photoart of a kaka
"Professor Polly" - a TinyArt piece float framed over a repeat of Polly's special wallpaper. The print has an edge embellished with pearlescent bronze ink.
I love getting creative and crafty with weekend workshops and online courses. Even if not directly related to my main artform, they can lead to creative connections. The weekend picture framing course I did last year at The Learning Connexion unleashed an entire product line (TinyArt), produced a rewarding collaboration with friend and framer Chris Helliwell, and enabled me to get bolder and more creative with my framing choices. There are so many free online courses and tutorials on literally every creative endeavour - start with YouTube and you'll soon be on an adventure. Did you know all the classic Bob Ross "Joy of Painting" courses are online and free? All 403 of them! What a resource! I've not been taking advantage of my subscriptions to the online KAIZEN (enrollments currently closed) and Shift Art photo-artistry communities, both of which have an incredible wealth of creative tutorials, and I will get back into them tomorrow... or even today... I promise.

7. SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA

Abstract photo-art  with text
"Death to distraction" - photo-art quick sketch about disconnecting from distracting screens and devices.
Being active on social media is an essential part of most modern artist's lives, but it so easy to go down unrelated rabbit holes and never return. Make time for social media, but not at the expense of the most productive hours of the day. I have to relearn this lesson again and again and again… how about you?

8. ​JOIN A REGULAR CREATIVE CHALLENGE

Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Photography Challenge banner for 2020, featuring a kererū
My weekly photo challenge is for anyone who loves wildlife and nature photography and, like me, wants to improve.
A daily, weekly, or monthly creative challenge can be a fun way to keep trying new things and to build a habit of creating regularly. I created the weekly Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Photography Challenge in 2018 to push myself to try new things, and then invited the world to join me. There are now hundreds of people also doing the challenge and we're all set to go for 2020 - check back in early December for the new challenges. Next year's challenges will emphasize creativity and composition, won't rely on having special gear, will have extra credit challenges, and will work for both photographers and other artists. I'm excited!

9. ​CREATE SOMETHING JUST FOR FUN AND JUST FOR YOU

Handbound book
Handmade secret Belgian binding notebook, filled with gorgeous art papers for sketching and notes, and some graph paper for sciencing.
It can be too easy to get caught up in the mindset that everything created needs to count. But sometimes it's best to relax and take the time to create something just for ourselves. It's especially important if you're having an "attack of the shoulds" (when you hear yourself saying "I should be doing this" and "I should be doing that"). It took two days to make this crazy-complicated secret Belgian binding notebook, but I loved every moment. Especially fossicking through my decades of interesting paper scraps. Want to make one too? There's lots of tutorials out there and I referred to many, but the lovely Jennifer aka Sea Lemon tutorial was the clearest.

10. FILL YOUR WORLD WITH INSPIRATION

Covers of recent Artists Down Under magazines, tiled
Artists Down Under magazine - wonderful photo-artistry from Australian and New Zealand photo artists
Enrich your surroundings by subscribing to art magazines (check out Artists Down Under), collecting art, following artists on social media, and going to exhibitions. Try the Excio app that puts art and photography on your phone's wallpaper. Put on some of your favourite music, grab your tools, and get creating!
Do any of these suggestions resonate with you? What works for you? What else would you recommend I try? Let me know in the comments below...
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2 comments

Tau kē/Awesome ideas!
Superb photos!!
Have you considered an exhibition at Photospace in Courtenay Place and Auckland?

Rosemary Cole07 Dec 2019
Thanks Rosemary! I’ll look into it!

Judi08 Dec 2019

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