Setting Up a Creative Practice
Over the past 30+ years, I have filled up a lot of sketchbooks! I especially love spontaneous creative practices because they provide a window into understanding my less consciously expressed parts of self.
Showing up daily to authentically express yourself is an act of self-love, yet it can feel surprisingly challenging to maintain a daily creative practice. I have some little tricks to share that help you to create something new every day.
Exploring a Daily Expressive Arts Practice
“When you want to arrive at your goal more than you want to be doing what you are doing, you become stressed.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
1. Focus on the Process. Creative practice quiets the anxiety of goal mentality. Invite all of your energy to fully move into your creative process until your mind grows quiet. Completely immerse yourself in your practice, and give up your desire for an end-product.
2. Keep your daily practice short. There are many ways to create a daily "doable" creative practice. One way is to set a short daily time allotment for your practice. Recently, for example, I created mandalas as my creative practice, and they were very detailed. Because I work full-time as I therapist, I could not finish an entire mandala in a session. I worked on my mandala for just 15-30 minutes a day.
3. Create a soothing ritual. Soothing rituals will tell your nervous system that you are moving into an intentional place of calm. I worked in my sketchbook in the mornings for about 15-30 minutes while I drank a cup of tea. When I was working in healthcare, I used to get up very early for my creative practice and light a candle to set a sacred tone.
4. Set an intention for your daily practice. My intention for my mandala practice was to "deconstruct" my lifelong habit of worry. My daily mandala meditation practice was to "cultivate calm." Setting the daily intention to calm my mind and body while I created my mandalas was very healing for me.
5. Explore a theme or structure. The structure of my mandala practice was simply to create anything within a circle using any art medium. Usually, I aim to explore one theme or structure until one sketchbook is complete. My 365 mandala practice was the longest creative practice I have ever done! (You can view my Intuitive Mandala Gallery HERE.)
6. Set a number. When I have decided to create 365 mandalas, I am put no pressure on myself to complete them by a set date. Creating 365 mandalas was super challenging for me. With such a long creative practice, I sometimes got bored with my mandala-making process. I regularly had to dig deeper into my methods and materials in order to become creatively engaged again.
7. Choose an art material to explore. Sometimes, I love to see what I can create by dedicating myself to exploring a particular art material like pastels, different kinds of pens or watercolour paint. I might aim to finish an entire sketchbook of abstract watercolour paintings, for example.
8. Choose an emotional issue to work through. Many years ago, when I was struggling to earn a living and to get above water financially, I dedicated many sketchbooks to frenzied ballpoint pen drawings that explored my fears about money.