Daily Practice is Fun!

Day 2

I joined artist Mary Glikerson’s 5-day challenge last week, and finished five quick studies (see here) for the challenge. The challenge was to paint for a set amount of time—20 to 40 minutes—and to stop when time was up. The intention: start a daily practice. All my studies took 40 minutes, but I plan to keep trying to get closer to 20 minutes.

It was a fun challenge, and it caused me to remember things I’d learned before and discover new things, combine objects in different ways to solve problems, test my skills with mixing and placement of color, and so much more. The work strengthened my creativity muscles, too.

Playbook Strategy # 1 for Creatives: Don’t Confuse Can’t with Won’t

I attended a workshop yesterday to learn how to prepare a business plan for my art business. What happened there was very unexpected.

I thought of a completely different and exciting way to grow my business. At least, I felt excited about the idea when came to me.

This morning, not 24 hours later, I’m feeling doubtful and even a little afraid of what could happen if I follow through on the idea.

What happens next is perhaps the most important decision I will make today, because that decision can impact my future.

If I say yes to the idea and continue to develop the business plan to support the new business activity, lots of things—some good, some not so good—could happen.

If I let the idea go, because I don’t think I can do it, it’s still likely my art business will grow, but at a slower rate. At least, that’s what I think will happen.

Notice all the “thinking” about what could happen? Fortunately, I recognized a pattern of thinking that has been responsible, in the past, for derailing me even before I’ve left the station.

This, I’ve discovered, is when it helps to have a strategy—a plan—for how to move forward.

Strategies are especially useful when situations feel overwhelming. What causes overwhelm? Any new situation that takes us out of our comfort zones and challenges us to learn new things has the potential to create feelings of being overwhelmed. What happens when we feel overwhelmed? We often say I can’t do IT. And we quickly think of reasons to support our decision to quit, or perhaps, to never start.

It’s important to remember that feeling overwhelmed, while scary, is temporary. The feeling recedes and is replaced by confidence as new knowledge and experience are gained.

Back to the business plan and what to do next.

Having reminded myself about what can happen when feeling overwhelmed by possibilities, I won’t tell myself No before I take time to explore the idea—flesh it out. I also won’t tell myself that I can’t do IT just because I don’t know what will happen if I do move forward with the idea. And I won’t confuse my fear (that makes me feel as though I can’t) with a refusal to try (saying I won’t).

Having a business plan is one part of my creative strategy and I’ll write more about that in a different post.

 

 

 

 

 

Music is to Painting …

Consider this:

Does listening to music help us be creative?

I arrived early at Joe Paquet’s Thursday night studio painting class to get set up for three hours of painting and critique. Joe likes to play music while we paint and on that evening, he started out with opera music. The painters around me weren’t diggin’ it. The music wasn’t bringing out our “inner Italian” as Joe had suggested it could do. After awhile, the opera was replaced with another piece of music, and we painted on until it was time to clean up and go home (or stop in at Kelly’s Depot).

I don’t listen to music when I paint, but I know lots of people do. And some research in this area indicates that listening to music, or even an audio story, can help people problem solve. There is a caveat, though. You have to like the music that is playing for it to have a positive effect on brain function.

Apparently, the brain’s default mode is “wandering.” While focusing on tasks requires a lot of effort and is mentally exhausting, the wandering mind activates creative thinking.

I can’t say the music playing on in the background as I painted Thursday night helped me solve the problem of how to paint beautiful branches on the trees in the landscape I was working on. The branches I created did not have the “flowing” quality Joe suggested I could obtain if I “relaxed” and “exhaled slowly.” Perhaps I am too focused (my branches looked a little tense) and I need to listen to music when I paint.

Do you listen to music while you create? Is it helpful? Let’s make this a conversation. Share your thoughts in a comment.

Read more about how music can help you be creative here.