Travel restrictions started to hit hard towards the middle end of March.
Since my work is mostly travel, I knew it was going to affect me in a huge way. I wasn’t wrong. Thankfully, my company pivoted, and I transitioned into a work from home position.
There was a silver lining to all of this.
No travel meant more time at home which meant more time for creating! What a relief. With everything going on: in the world, in the nation, in the state, in the community, in the circle of family and friends all over the place and then in my own life, my life felt fuller than ever. My mind and heart were weighed down with all that was going on.
I dragged myself to my art desk, draping the black apron over my neck and pulling back my do-want-they-want-to crazy curly hair. A painting of gorgeous bouquet of spring flowers had been haunting me for weeks, begging me to move it from my mind to the real world. It was a sumptuous feast of spring florals: warm green stalks, bright and cheerful yellow and pink blossoms against a bright blue sky dotted with cumulus clouds. The supplies were pulled out, arranged and then…
It was awful.
Nothing was coming together and when I did manage to get color on canvas, not only did the color not work well together, the flowers, well, they didn’t even really look like flowers.
I pulled off the apron, dropped it on the floor and left the room, not even bothering to clean up the mess. The art supplies were left scattered. They looked as forlorn as I felt.
I didn’t even bother to try to create for about a week. Creative blocks are not something that haunt me. Normally, I power through and make something out of the messiest of creations.
But not this time. It took me about a week to figure out what the problem was.
I was taking on too much. Creativity is a lot of work. Yes, it is rejuvenating and re-energizes us, but taking on large projects requires a certain amount of resourcefulness and resiliency. In times of great stress, big projects, like the large collection of acrylic paintings I had in my heart, need a bit of a warm up to get going.
That’s when it hit me.
I needed to warm up, just like I normally do before I run or go through one of those workout videos on YouTube. (You know the ones I mean, right? Where the instructor is over-the-the-top happy as we all sweat to death doing moves never seen or done in our normal lives). When I was younger the warmup and stretch weren’t essential. Now they are.
I realized I needed a way to warm up my creativity, get myself in a place where it didn’t feel like such a shock to try to start creating.
In this post, I want to share some of the ways I warm up my creativity again with watercolors.
I love watercolor. Some say it’s not forgiving, but I’ve found lots of ways to clean up my muddy messes and few ever go to the wayside. I’ll share one way I do that here. Also, watercolors are easy to use. They don’t stain your clothes or carpet. Watercolors are light weight and easy to set up and put away, unlike other mediums which require more prep, paint and attention. You can walk away from a watercolor palette and if it’s dry when you return? No big deal, add water and keep painting.
Also, they don’t smell.
If you haven’t tried watercolors in a while, I encourage you to give them a try. And if you are feeling as if your ability to create has taken a gut punch, try these ideas to boost your creative energy and get back to creating again!
It wasn’t long before the ideas and inspiration were free flowing, even though the outside life hadn’t returned to normal. The warmups helped refocus and inspire me, which allowed me to create and, help others stay inspired and upbeat.
It’s essential to keep ourselves encouraged and strong, especially in the hard times. We need to stay strong because so many around us rely on us for encouragement and so many other things. And we want to be able to help them.
Here are 5 creative watercolor warm-up exercises that boosted my energy again!
- Quote Art
Is there anything so inspiring as a good quote? Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and sales trainer used to say, “Motivation is like taking a bath. You gotta do it everyday.” He’s right. We have to keep ourselves and those around us encouraged every day. Too many days in the doldrums is an assault to our bodies, minds and hearts.
Painting quotes is a great way to warm up our creativity, infuse some cheerful color into our lives and feel a bit happier.
You don’t how to write script? Neither do I! You can see how messy these watercolor quotes are. That doesn’t matter a bit. They are super fun and a great way to play. Plus, they’re fun to stick in the mail and send to family, colleagues and friends.
- Watercolor flowers
Some of you may argue this isn’t easy, but….how many of us grew up drawing and painting flowers? How many of us are cheered by the new flowers of spring and the signs of new life and color? You can watch this video I made of painting spring flowers and you’ll see: it’s okay to be messy.
Painting flowers are a wonderful way to experience the feel of the strokes of the paintbrush, get bold with color and play!
- Small art.
It’s okay to go small. Many of us take on a lot. We don’t have a lot of extra time for creative play so when we do something that’s grandiose in size, we can feel frustrated because we don’t gain the traction to complete it.
There’s nothing wrong with small. In fact, because we don’t have an incredible amount of discretionary time, painting small things we can finish provides the satisfaction of completion, of achieving something.
- Repeat subjects
Just like the topic above, repeating anything: flowers, quotes, coffee cups, trees, cats. Painting a beloved simple subject over and over and over is so good for the soul. It feels therapeutic and I start to notice details, make small changes, get bolder with colors, etc.
Repeating is muscle memory (just like those circuits on a workout).
- Adding pen and extra colors to your existing art.
This one is for those of you who have watercolors that you’ve done that perhaps feel unfinished or you didn’t like.
I started adding micron ink pen and white gel pen markings to several of my watercolors to add definition of line or shadowing or highlighting an area where too many watercolors had merged.
Then, an art teacher advised me to go back and add in another layer of watercolor paint to various areas! What fun. This is incredibly relaxing. When I’m especially fatigued and the idea of creating something new seems daunting, I’ll pull out pens and go to work adding in fun details and design work.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to develop your own creative warm up and start making art again. It’s good for you – physically, emotionally, mentally – and it’s good for those around you too!
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