Zen Living: 6 Ways to Live a Creative Life

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Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up”. Sometimes “being creative” sounds like a task or chore, like the dishes or laundry. Sometimes artistic expression and life itself feel like they are at odds with each other. We juggle work, life, relationships, hobbies; and often our pursuit of a creative life gets shoved aside. The trick is to make creativity part of your daily life. Like Picasso said, kids are all artists. They make art every day and they don’t judge their work. They are just naturally creative. But so are you. Here’s how to rekindle that creative side and keep the proverbial fire stoked.

  1. Find your own space. Virginia Woolf famously said that in order to create, a woman must have money and a room of one’s own. Although times have changed and women are not in the same struggle of patriarchy as Virginia was, the idea still holds water. Having personal freedom is necessary in order to live a creative life. You need a place where it feels safe to create, a place of your own. Whether you convert your basement into a studio, or use a public park or garden – make the place yours. Choose a place that is inspiring to you. Some people find nature inspiring, others find a desk in a quite place is all they need. Finding your own space can be as simple as having a notebook or sketchbook where you can safely put down your thoughts and ideas. Daily.
  2. Say NO more often. A lot of us would have plenty of time to nurture our creative side if we simply stop saying yes to every event and favor that comes our way. It isn’t your job to make sure the rest of the world is happy. It is your job to make sure YOU are happy. The rest will flow from there. Start making time for yourself by saying no to invitations and projects that don’t interest you. Say NO to feeling guilty or disappointing others. Find your way back to making time for the one person in the world who your time will truly benefit: Yourself.
  3. Create ritual or routine. I write and/or draw every day. Sometimes I do both. I also read (a book) every day. Take joy in the doing and start to focus less on the finished product. While getting mounds of adoration for a finished project might feel great, the idea is to make the process of creativity part of your daily life. Focus on the doing. Focus on the moment. How do you feel when you are painting? How does it make you feel when you start writing a new chapter? Good right? You can have that feeling every single day if you just give yourself the time and space to do it.
  4. Be bold. Living a creative life is all about taking risks and seeing what happens. New thoughts or ideas can be intimidating, but don’t run scared. Dive in head first and see what happens. The worst you will do is make a mistake. The best you will do is create something new. Your new creation might not be perfect, but it isn’t supposed to be. Chasing perfection is the opposite of being bold. Draw something that scares you. Write a poem. Taking creative risks is the key to unlocking new territory. Your creativity will mature and grow as you evolve into the artist you were meant to be.
  5. Have fun! Creating is supposed to be fun. If it isn’t, then maybe you are doing it wrong. Do only what appeals to you and don’t bother with what doesn’t. There are no rules, no right way of being creative -it should be fun – whatever it is. Don’t let your inner editor inside your creative space. There is a time and place for editing, but that place is not your safe place. Let your guard down, have fun, and create. Nobody will see it, taste it, read it – unless you invite them to do so. The only person judging you is you.
  6. Understand Balance. Our modern world encourages multiplicity rather than simplicity. Each day we are offered opportunities to do more, see more, and try new things. You must evaluate your life and and find which areas you are willing to downsize in order to focus on your creativity. It sounds a little scary, but it doesn’t have to be. I know I am not happy when I trade my creative time for other endeavors. When I go a few days without writing or drawing I begin to feel a nagging or tugging from deep inside. I know what that means. I don’t write to be read. I don’t draw or paint so that I may have my art reviewed. I do it because it keeps me sane, and it is part of my life. Creativity is as much a part of my daily life as breathing. My life is fuller and richer since I allowed myself the time and space to life a creative life.

30 Day Drawing Challenge: The Finish Line

Day 30: A Finish banner!

Day 30: A Finish banner!

This was the last week of my challenge. In some ways it was the easiest because I had a rhythm going and a pattern of practice. It is now part of my daily routine to draw. Even though I am moving at the end of this month, and I added 4hours/day to my work day, I was still able to produce pictures that I’m not too embarrassed to say I made.

When I start a project (whether it’s art, music, writing, or whatever!) am starting it with the best of intentions. I want to do well, and I want to get better at my craft. Last year I did the Presidential Fitness Challenge – exercising for at least 5 days a week for 30 days – and it got tough around the 3rd week. I didn’t want to go to the gym and I wanted to eat cookies. But I looked at the work I had done thus far and I motivated myself to the gym. At the end of the 30 days I looked and felt great, and I had accomplished something that for me, was pretty amazing.

Day 27: Someone you love

Day 27: Someone you love

The drawing challenge was the same way. I had a few days where I felt like quitting, but I didn’t. I kept drawing. Some of my pictures are not the greatest, but they are still mine. Maybe they will serve as inspiration in the future, or maybe they helped me learn something about art. I went way outside of my comfort zone for this challenge, and that makes me happy.

The last pictures I needed to do came fairly easy. I drew my stuffed pal “Le Mutt”, and I drew Paris as a place I want to go. Day 28 was a giraffe and a tree, and day 30 was a banner of congratulations for finishing. They are all a little weird and quirky, but so am I. I am beginning to understand that my art work won’t look like anyone else’s because I am not anyone else. And that’s pretty rad. I was having so much fun drawing this last week, I was inspired to draw outside of the challenge. That makes me a winner. (Picture of a girl below)

Day 28: Whatever you want

Day 28: Whatever you want

I am going to do “Round 2” of the drawing challenge in October, then November it is NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I actually finished for the first time a few years ago and I think I am ready to do it again. I won’t be working in November so I’ll have little to no excuses. I like challenging myself, and writing a novel in 30 days is about as challenging as it gets.

(Not part of challenge)

Not part of the challenge – art by Alicia k. Brooks

 

Day 29: A place you want to go

Day 29: A place you want to go

 

30 Day Drawing Challenge : Week 3

Day 19: Something new

Day 19: Something new

This week was a lot harder than the others for many reasons. First, I went back to a full-time work schedule. This seriously cramps my artistic time, and makes me a lot more stressed and tired than I am used too. But, when you are poor and getting ready to move (again!) saving money comes before practicing your art. I am committed to finishing this challenge, but you’ll notice a lack of creativity for this week. Sorry. Time flies when you are working all of the time.

What I have realized is this – I love drawing. Forcing myself to do it everyday (like writing, reading) is making me a better artist. Creativity is a muscle. If you want to make a muscle stronger, you work it. Draw every day. I took my sketch book to work this last week and drew on my lunch break, and I even drew with some of my kids at school. I helped them see how to blend colors with pencils, and I explained what “depth” is in art. It was fun.

SN857308I have been forced to challenge myself. I am drawing things outside of my comfort zone and it is getting easier. My biggest struggle this week was ” Something you need”. I had no clue. Abstract ideas are hard for me when it comes to art. So, I decided to draw a patchwork minion. Is this an actual need of mine? No, not really. But when you live a minimalist lifestyle your needs are few. I thought it would be boring to draw water or food. So, I let my creativity take hold and I ended up a minion. And I think everyone NEEDS a minion.

If you don’t let your creativity grow your potential will just sit there, stagnant, like a pool of old swamp water. Eww!  You need your creativity flowing like a big waterfall, churning and flowing all of your ideas into something truly amazing. I have zero interest in drawing actual people or animals – at least not realistically. It scares me. But that is why I need to do it.

Day 21: Something you want

Day 21: Something you want

I am almost finished with the challenge so I will finish it. Goals and deadlines are important. When I start something, I finish it. But, I also take breaks. Breaks are just as important as practice. Breaks help your mind stay fresh and can also be inspirational depending on how you spend your down time. Admire and look at all sorts of different art and allow yourself to be inspired by it. Looking at one type of art and trying to copy it will just leave you as the understudy for someone better. Try taking ideas from other artists and changing them into something that reflects YOU.

I’m down to my last week of the challenge. Aside from just finishing the challenge, this week I am going to try not trashing myself and just doing the work. Not every picture will be great, but maybe they will spark ideas for other pictures.

Day 23: Something you need

Day 23: Something you need

Day24: A couple

Day24: A couple

 

Day 26: Something you don't like

Day 26: Something you don’t like

Day 25: Scenery

Day 25: Scenery

Day 22: Something you miss

Day 22: Something you miss

30 Day Drawing Challenge: Week 2

Day 7: Candy

Day 7: Candy

I am two weeks in to my self imposed drawing challenge and I have to say, it is a lot more fun than I thought it would be! I expected to find myself making excuses not to draw, or simply getting bored, but neither has happened. Instead I wake up excited for the next day’s challenge. I don’t feel pressure to make each picture perfect, I just try to have fun creating something new each day.

Some of the topics have been more challenging than others. This week I had to draw “a  turning point your life” and “Your most recent accomplishment”. I had no idea how to illustrate such abstract  concepts.

Day 8: An animated character

Day 8: An animated character

My life changed when I moved to Prague, but how do I illustrate that? My most recent accomplishment was having my a blog post go viral and get mentioned on a local drive time radio station. Sure, it was because the people of Austin Texas were pissed off, but who the heck cares? I’ll take it! How do I illustrate that?

I decided to draw an Indiana Jones style map journey. You know, the kind with the red arrow that moves across the map to show an air journey? I drew tiny icons of California and Prague to identify each place, and I made sure to emphasize the fact that Prague is land locked. I think the idea got across alright.

Day 9: TV Show

Day 9: TV Show

One of my Bucket List goals has always been to “Mess with Texas”. So it made perfect sense to take the iconic sign and say that I did. The fact that it was unintentional is just icing on the cake.

Next week’s topics include a doodle, a comic and a plant! See you then.

 

 

 

Day 10: A Turning Point in your life

Day 10: A Turning Point in your life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 11: Self Portrait

Day 11: Self Portrait

 

Day 12: Most recent accomplishment

Day 12: Most recent accomplishment