How I Started my Daily Practice & Became a Better Artist
Updated: Dec 1, 2021
At the end of April 2020 when the enormity of the pandemic set in, I returned to my art table with a desire to create again. More of a response to the situation, making art had always been a respite for me. It had been a while since I was working extra hours to move my other job online, as many of you did as well, I'm sure.
What I thought would be an easy jump back into my collage artwork ended up in total frustration with nothing to show, zero. Certainly nothing good. It all felt BORING; same materials, same process, same colours, same everything.
Sure it was easy but completely unsatisfying. I realized I had to shift gears and try something new, something fresh to get excited about again. I headed to my 2 favourite places with ideas galore, pinterest & youtube, (right!?). And I have to say, this is the part I'm really good at...jumping down the rabbit hole of all. the. beautiful. things.
Thankfully, I quickly globbed onto a certain artist and started watching her videos, following her blog, and within a few weeks buying one of her online classes. And it was great, and I was awake, again, yay! And for the first time in a long time, I started seeing with fresh eyes.
This one course led to a whole new approach. I tried to copy the artist's work almost identically. I even went back and did the whole class a 2nd time, to improve upon the things that I felt didn't work the first time. And from that, I started to see a new way of doing art, one that I hadn't considered before.
From there, I joined a facebook 5-day art challenge (they are everywhere & free!) and that's when the idea of making art on a daily basis really took hold. In 15 or 20 minutes a day, I could learn, practice, improve, produce & most importantly FAIL. All of that in such a short amount of time!
And the best part of it all? I no longer come to my art table sporadically, and sit there wondering what to do, which materials to use, what idea from pinterest I can emulate. I don't have to spend time starting over, or coming in 'cold' because I already know what I'm working on, and what is holding my interest at the moment.
And honestly, there are days that I come to the table with nothing, no motivation, no interest. But I show up anyway and clean up my space, organize supplies, paint a coat of primer on some new boards. Anything to keep going.
So if you're ready to practice your art, craft, hobby, whatever for 15 minutes a day, here's a few tips that helped me.
9 Tips to quickly setting up your daily practice:
Know what you're working on? Great...gather supplies and move them all to the same spot. Nothing deflates your spirit faster than searching your house for the materials you need. Just like a recipe, get the ingredients ready first.
Choose the same time of day/location to get your mind into 'serious play mode' if you can. You are trying to make a habit, and while it sounds repetitive and not at all spontaneous, it really does help if you schedule it into your day. My typical routine is downstairs to the art studio right after my kids leave for school every day. Every day.
Be flexible if #2 doesn't work for you. Does your situation call for more or less time periods, at different times of the day? Maybe 2x week for an hour each day is more suitable? Play around with the timing.
Instead of tackling the whole project, what can you do in 15 minutes to move you a step closer? Research? Make a list to organize? Hunt down some more supplies?
How many ways can you break down the process into manageable chunks of time?
Figure out what you can do today to prepare for your 15 minutes tomorrow.
Use what you have. Resist the urge to go out and buy everything new, unless of course, you are starting something completely different. You might change direction early on. Allow some space for discovery...can you substitute?
Read this post by Austin Kleon, author of "How to Steal Like an Artist" & download his free printable here: "30-Day Practice & Suck Less Challenge"
Let go of any & ALL expectations, seriously...just do it, this isn't an exercise in skill or talent. You have to make ugly paintings to get to good ones. You have to scribble before you can draw. You have to knit a washcloth before you can knit a dress. Do I need to go on? I could write a book about people (including myself) that have allowed negative self-doubt to paralyze their progress. Don't be that person. Being creative is about the joy of doing something that takes your brain away from stress.
Give yourself a break. Skipped a day? It happens. Took a week off because of "life"? Start again. The point is to gently nudge yourself along and see where you end up after a month.
One final note...thinking you have to be in a 'creative' mood is a false belief. You do not have to feel creative, in order to be creative. You just have to push through!
Art before dishes...