Your Creative Practice
Greetings to all!
Cultivating a creative practice is somewhat challenging, as many of you may find. Our minds trick us into believing we have more important things to do.
We end up finding all sorts of distractions to keep us away from our artistic endeavours. I certainly have had to make a conscious decision to commit to a daily art practice and I have to admit, it's still a work in progress! I'm so honoured to introduce you to this month's guest, Annamieka Hopps Davidson, an artist from Portland, Oregon. Annamieka shares valuable tips on how to show up for your art. Scroll down for my interview with her!
Now that the holiday season is over and the children are back at school, do you have plans to dive into your art? Do you carve out time for yourself to allow your artistic gifts to emerge? If you need inspiration to get you started, sign up for my new creative ONLINE COURSE. Learn more HERE. How do you show up for your creative process? I'd love to hear from you!
Quote of the month
'The left hemisphere is the Great Saboteur of endeavors in art. When you draw, it will be set aside - left out of the game. Therefore, it will find endless reasons for you not to draw: you need to go to the market, balance your checkbook, phone your mother, plan your vacation, or do that work you brought home from the office.'
(Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain)
Meet the inspiring Annamieka Hopps Davidson! Annamieka has helped me tremendously in my own creative process and has very kindly agreed to share her thoughts with you all.
I understand you were a therapist before becoming a full time artist. What made you take the leap?
Yes, I had my own business as a licensed massage therapist (LMT). I actually saw massage clients right here in my art studio for several years! I have always made art and identified as an artist, and I even went to college for art, but after college I didn't know how to turn it into a career. I took business classes to figure out how to run my private practice as a massage therapist and after several years of being self-employed I gained the confidence to take the leap and make a business out of my art. It was a slow progression to build the art business up over several years while phasing out of massage.
What motivates you to paint?
Painting motivates me to paint. The more I paint, the more I want to paint. Similarly, if it has been a long time, I can feel rusty and shaky and unsure where to begin. If I can get some paint out and start moving it around, I will get interested in it. Sometimes I just start mixing colors to get myself going. I guess it's a lot like chopping up some garlic or onions and throwing them into a hot pan to sauté while I figure out what else to make for dinner. I know it's going to lead me somewhere.
Why in your view is it important to cultivate a creative practice?
I need my creative practice more than ever right now. I am a new mama to a four-month-old baby girl. I am often very tired during the day. My daily creative practice gives me a place to gather my thoughts, and just be me for a moment. I write every day, and most days, with my tired brain, I am writing very boring thoughts, like "baby Skye is napping. Oh, she woke up, I gotta go. Okay, I am back. It is an hour later now. I need to remember to get more eggs at the store later." Things like that. But once in a while a story pours out of me and I have the energy to write it all down. And I feel so self-expressed, and if I share the work, there is all this wonderful connection with people who read it. And that is very satisfying. I think that just showing up and practicing every day keeps me in shape for the rare day that a gem of an idea comes through.
Congratulations! Your baby is absolutely adorable! How do you make time for your creative process with all the other responsibilities you have as a new mother?
Thank you. When my baby girl was born I took a month off of social media. My brain was so tired I needed to minimize distractions. I started writing every day. I write during her naps, or when someone else is watching her, or while she is nursing on my lap. I got a little desk that swings over the recliner in our living room so I have a surface where I can write and paint while she is nursing. I write my words using a website called 750words. My goal is to write 750 words or more each day. The website helps me to stay motivated and tracks my progress. I wrote every day for one month, and then for two months. It has been so helpful. I recently missed a day - I just plumb forgot! I was bummed to miss a day but I got back up and started the next day again. I am still learning and the important part is the connection with myself and creativity that it supports, not the ego part of having a perfect track record. Painting has been different. I have always painted in big bursts, with breaks in between. But I have a new life now and with a baby I don't have time for big bursts or luxuriously long days of painting. My intuition is telling me that I need to start painting every day. I feel like now that I've gotten the hang of writing every day I can add a new habit of painting each day. Sometimes it is so difficult to find the time to do these things. But I know it's in my soul's highest good - please wish me luck as I begin a daily painting practice!
I wish you luck and everyone else who is trying to make that a daily goal! Many times I find I procrastinate when it comes to making art. Do you find that and if so, how do you get around that?
Me too! I am so good at procrastination. Deadlines are everything. The urgency that a deadline creates is very motivating for me. I snap into action and get it done. In my life before the baby, I would go into the studio to work on a painting and just stay until I finished it. I would push myself and stay up late. There is something about the nighttime hours that helps me to focus. I could get so much done after ten pm. Often I would come home at 2am or I would just sleep on the couch in my studio - I had blankets and pillows there for that purpose. But now with a new baby, I have to pace myself more, and be more prepared ahead of time. I am still figuring out how to get my work done in this whole new paradigm. It's all about getting right to it when I have a moment, and then being willing to walk away when I need to go attend to baby. And then being able to return to it again when I have another moment. I don't have long spans of time anymore. I am working with smaller chunks of time. When I found out I was pregnant, an artist I know, MJ Anderson, told me something that was so reassuring at the time. She put her hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said "I am so excited for all the art you are going to make as a mother, because this baby is going to teach you how to organize your time like never before." And it is proving to be true. As a lifelong procrastinator, I am surprising myself by getting things done ahead of time because I just HAVE to.
Can you share 3 tips on how to stretch our creative muscles?
Change your medium. For example, if you often paint and draw, try clay. There is something so great about changing mediums. You'll be more forgiving of yourself if you don't think you're supposed to be good at it.
Do a daily challenge. Start with three days in a row. Or five. Decide you're going to draw a bird a day, or something like that. Or if you really want a challenge commit to a thirty-day challenge or do the #100dayproject.
This one is counterintuitive, but rest. This has been the biggest lesson for me, even before I became a mama. Sometimes the best thing you can possibly do for your creativity is to rest. Take a nap. Take a bath. Take a walk. Read an uplifting book just for fun. Rest and replenish. You're worth it, and your creativity will benefit from it.