Welcome to my garden studio. Click on the video below to watch me priming a canvas ready for an oil painting.
Monday was supposedly the most depressing day of the year.
No idea why.
Maybe it's just cold and damp; the radio news failed to fully explain why it was the most depressing day of the year.
Somehow this fact infiltrated my brain, and I just couldn't seem to get my artistic mojo going on Monday.
I started a painting, it didn't start well.
I did a few quick sketches, they didn't go well either.
I managed to prime a couple of canvases and varnish a finished painting but that's hardly creative is it?
In the end I caught up on my bookkeeping that that's the most uncreative thing I do, but it is necessary to run a business so the day wasn't wasted.
However I have a few creative tasks that have served me very well over the years.
Creativity isn't magic, it doesn't fall from the sky like a thunderbolt.
Creativity is a habit.
Here are my five favourite ways of getting the creative habit.
1. Go outside.
Ideally you'll go outside and sketch, but actually just going outside for a a bit of a walk can get your creative juices flowing again. Take the time to look, to really notice. The skies, the changing light, the changing seasons, nature in all its glory. Alternatively notice the mundane, the everyday, the manmade. Have a good look round.
2. Go inside.
Draw a coffee shop scene. Draw a close up of your coffee cup then draw the whole room. Accept the changes. Jot down ideas as they occur you, snippets of conversations. Find the spark to create an idea.
3. Go to a gallery.
Whether its a huge, internationally famous gallery or a little local museum. You can get inspiration from the artwork itself. The story behind it. The way the exhibition has been curated. The "feel" of the place.
I absolutely love drawing in galleries. Standing up in front of the work, using a little hardback sketchbook. It's wonderful. and it never fails to inspire me.
4. Create every day.
Forge a new habit of creating something everyday - a drawing,- passage of writing, a painting..but do it everyday. Draw your breakfast in the morning, draw your shoes when you take them off in the evening.
Little and often is key!
5. Be prepared to fail.
Make a mess. Take yourself out of your comfort zone. Work in a medium unfamiliar or on a subject you've never tackled before. Make a promise that you will do something without showing it to anyone or posting on the internet. It's a way of giving yourself permission to explore something new without having make it perfect. If you experiment often enough, you might just discover something wonderful!
Do all if the above and I'm positive you'll banish artist's block and be ready to move towards a bigger project.
It's all too tempting, to click your way to re-stocking your studio.
But few pleasures compare to walking into a bonafide independent art shop. Seeing all those gorgeous materials laid out before you and getting excited about what you’re going to take home.
I’ve been chatting to Sharon Noble of Noble Art supplies in Salisbury and I’ve got 10 reasons why you should go shopping there.
1. You get to speak to a real expert!
Online there's no help or advice.
Sharon is experienced and can help her customers. "After the closure of Compleat Artist Salisbury was left with a gap and as there was still an obvious customer base still present I thought I didn't want to waste nearly 18 years in art retail and everything I had learnt about materials". And thus, Noble Art supplies was born.
2. You can do a custom order.
With accounts with the main suppliers and also 2 good wholesale companies, Noble arts are happy to order in special items for you. From canvas to paint, from pencils to brushes.
3. Get up close and personal with texture.
Sharon and I are agreed, there's nothing better than finding a good brush. Nothing compares to selecting that brush in real life!
4. You can browse while making up your mind!
Browsing online is nothing like as much fun! There's been a lot of fuss in the news about an independent book seller in Yorkshire charging people to browse. But Sharon tells me "I am happy for customers to browse. Also someone browsing is a potential future customer". So relax and enjoy yourself!
5. It's a chance to see just how many colours there are in the world! Walking into an art shop is walking into an Aladdin's cave of colour. Take your time and choose well!
6. It's a joy. a social event!
You'll find like minded people. You'll be able to discuss techniques. Art materials are tactile it's great to see the products you are buying
7. Keep your Highstreet vibrant and full of luscious shops!
There's a campaign called just a card which was started based on a gallery "If everyone who walked into our gallery and said it was beautiful had bought just a card- we'd still be open" So, what can we do to make sure Salisbury keeps it only specialist art shop open? The answer to this is simple; shop local!
8. It's a great place to dream! You can imagine your next masterpiece, you can picture the colour palette you'll use. You can plan. You can buy exactly what you need, nothing more.
9. You'll have access to local knowledge.
Sharon knows many of the Salisbury artists and the classes they teach. If you want to find out more about the art scene, she'll more than likely know what's going on. In addition, Plain Arts Salisbury members get a 10% discount!
10. Get some inspiration.
From the shop window displays, the array of paints, brushes and materials and the inspiring people who work and shop there, you're bound to see something that will get your creative juices flowing!
See you there!
At this time of year lots of people start planning new routines to get themselves organised. Organisation is key to being successful in any business.
From years and years of being a teacher, where every second of our lesson time and indeed our free time was precious beyond belief, I have 20 years of time management and organisation skills honed to a tee.
There is a myth that creative thinkers are chaotic and disorganised… though I’ll admit that part of my need for planning and organisation has definitely stemmed from my years of being a teacher and now they are serving me well in my years of being an artist.
So here are my top three - I'm not altogether sure I’d be able to live without any of them!
I have a wall next to my desk with blackboard paper stuck on it.
This is much more practical than having a real blackboard of this size, which would be very heavy and could damage the wall or even damage me if it fell off the wall!
Blackboard paper is really easy to apply and you can get it in plenty of DIY shops or indeed a favourite online retailer! I love it!
It helps me map out my plans month by month. On my blackboard wall this month are the key areas for development for January 2017 they are:
a) my website
b) research and development which includes goal setting, marketing strategies and artistic experimentation,
c)painting- which includes planning my new collection, and
d) workshops- these can include workshops that I'm doing elsewhere for instance in Salisbury museum and indeed my own workshops that I'm doing in my studio.
2. A decent diary…
actually a decent diary and a planner, well a decent diary, a planner and then another diary; this is getting complicated.
I use a moleskin diary, a week to page with a notes on the side this really helps me coordinate arrangements, visits and meetings with other people. It's light enough to carry around with me and bung in my handbag and it's big enough for me to still put in a few plans and urgent reminders.
In addition to this I have another planner which doesn't leave my studio. It's big enough for me to write anything I need to. I use Janet Murray's media dairy, where I plan my blog posts for the year, my social media strategy and PR planning. This is quite a lot of work but it's not something that needs to travel so it's good to have a big fat chunky diary that can contain all the info.
I also have the brilliant “Your best year 2017” by Lisa Jacobs. I started using her strategies and YBY planners back in 2014 and I haven't stopped! I'm also a member of her online Luminaries club which has really helped me become accountable for my own business. Creating artwork, for me at least, is the easy part of my business. The difficult part is working out how to sell it ,when to sell, where to sell it, and who to sell it to!
To do all of those things you got to have a plan.
Any of my former students or colleagues will possibly be laughing out loud at this point or maybe even rolling their eyes. They will know that I am obsessed with mind mapping. I used to recommend mindmapping to my students particularly for revision and notetaking.
In my life as an artist I use mindmapping all the time to plan and to strategise my art business. It really helps me get all my ideas down on paper (or screen) really really quickly whilst leaving me with a great visual reminder of what I'm up to. I can plan almost anything with a mind map. From my holiday packing to a detailed written press release. I even mind map my blog posts!
So those are my big three take aways for how to get yourself organised. There is no doubt that the real secret to organisation is finding the strategy that happens to work for you.
For me visuals stimulus is key to my planning strategies…who knew!
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