7 Ways to Feed Your Creativity When You Can't Sit & Paint

Creativity is a funny thing. We often think it needs to have its own box and that it must be kept separate from the rest of our lives, but this simply isn't true! No one said creativity was only for the studio but for some reason we treat it like it's in short supply and exclusively for when we pick up a brush. I am here to tell you that if you get into the habit of looking for creativity on a daily basis, you will find it everywhere. I promise.

Now the creative dream of most artists is to have creativity (and inspiration) in endless supply. Oh to be able to drop any and everything, and run into the ever welcoming arms of our paints! But as you know and as I know, there are days you have to spend doing laundry, or tending to sick kids, or sending emails, or sitting in the office. There are so many other things that often demand our attention that creativity and any artsy thing takes a backseat. There is another way though!

Here's the thing: Creativity does NOT need to be limited to only our painting time and it can be fed and used in many ways. That means you do not have to be sitting in your studio every day painting for 8+ hours to grow as an artist (though those long days do help).

Here are 7 ways you can grow your creativity when you can't sit and paint:

1. Stick a mini sketchbook in your purse.

Skip the endless scroll on your morning commute or lunch break and pull out your sketchbook! Jotting down thoughts, words, quotes, or even doodling a picture in 10 seconds or less is a great way to spark ideas and feed your creative flame.

2. Keep your creative eye open!

"When there isn't time to sit and paint the primary way I feed my creativity is to take photographs of things I find inspiring while out and about. The photographs come in handy later as references or to spark ideas. It doesn't take up much time to pull out my phone that I carry with me always.

When I'm running errands or being busy I keep a creative eye open. This means I'll look at what is around me as if I was going to paint it. I'll think of what colors I would exaggerate, how would I tackle this as a painting, or pay attention to the lighting and shadows. All this "visual painting" comes back in my artwork when I have time later. Taking photographs and keeping a creative eye open helps feed my creativity on a daily basis when I don't have the time to devote to painting." - Priscilla George

3. Spark new ideas through music & podcasts.

Music is one of the biggest inspirations out there for a lot of artists and podcasts are just as equally entertaining and enriching. Singing and dancing to the beat is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Plug in your earphones and pay attention to the ideas and colors you hear and see as a way to find your next big idea. Some of my favorite podcasts (like the Creative Pep Talk) talk about building your creative career and are an excellent source of knowledge for the creative person.

4. Switch up your medium.

Switching up your medium to easy pen and ink sketches or markers or even a quick brush lettered quote is an easy alternative to pulling out all the supplies and prepping to complete a big piece!

"Normally I use acrylics but last fall/winter my schedule was too busy to do many paintings. So I took up drawing botanical wreaths with pen and marker! It's quicker, you can draw small easy things and no clean up required!" - Jolene Helmke

5. Watch a Youtube video.

Youtube is a treasure trove of videos and you can learn just about anything on there. And you don't have to spend any money to learn something new. If I'm looking to learn a specific technique or how to paint a certain subject I'm struggling with, you bet I hit up Youtube for some fast learning! Youtube is a great place to learn about business, marketing, painting, and literally everything in between.

6. Water your plants.

"Taking care of my plants has actually been very therapeutic for me over the last half year; pruning them, rotating them, encouraging their growth. I have made a little hobby out of propagating my succulents, watching them be a part of a big beautiful succulent then, removing them to become their own and encouraging them to grow their own roots. Taking care of them is a living reminder of how I need to take care and nourish my creativity and art practice."

- Renee Royal

7. Use your creativity in different ways.

"I feed my creativity in multiple ways when I can’t paint, though I already have multiple creative outlets so that does help. But depending on one’s preference, be it visual arts or otherwise, different activities may suit you best.

For example, I’m primarily a writer, being a photographer second and a painter third. I love each of my passions to varying degrees, in different ways, and for different reasons. And I think the important differentiation to make is that each of these creative outlets exercise your creativity in different ways. So when I’m not painting, I’m writing, taking photos, editing photos, reading, surfing Instagram or Pinterest for inspiration from other artists.

All the whole collecting ideas and making plans for future projects. And while I agree that self help style books on creativity are great tools for motivation, I think it can be most inspiring to read works of fiction as they ignite the imagination in a different way. My point being, if you do not have the opportunity to work on your passion, keep yourself from getting rusty by stretching other creative muscles.

Writers have been known to take up photography to help them better take in a setting, the see the details or the big picture from a new perspective. Artists use photographs for painting reference. And a painting can serve as inspiration for a scene or spark an emotion that underlies an entire book.

I fully believe that if you expand your scope of interests, all you can do is grow. So read poetry, observe art of all kinds, look at the world around you and take in the angles to find the thing you’ve been missing. Expand. Grow.

If you can’t do one passion, find another and both will benefit. " - Jamie Tudor

Whether you choose to feed your creativity by developing a course, writing a poem or blog post, planning out your next painting composition, or writing an Instagram caption, all these things grow you as an creative!

As artists, we don't need to limit ourselves to just one outlet for creativity, we can thrive in many! You can explore a new idea and grow as an artist in an unexpected way because let's get real, we make our own rules and you ultimately get to decide what feeds what in your life.

Special thanks to the below artists for their contributions! Learn more about them by clicking on their names!

Priscilla George

Jolene Helmke

Jamie Tudor

Renee Royal

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