Incept Your Favorite Creative Blogs & Websites

Have you seen the film “Inception?” I won’t go into any details in case you haven’t had the chance to see it yet (psss… go see it). However I will give the general concept of the film, which is having the ability to incept into someone’s dreams, and sometimes these characters, will go even deeper by being in a dream within dreams. Sure that might sound a little confusing, but we all practice that concept of starting at one point and ending completely at another, especially within modern technology. YouTube would be a great example, have you ever noticed when you went to watch one video, somehow you clicked on another, till all of sudden you realize it’s been over two hours and you’re still watching all these different videos that don’t even connect to the original video that you were watching? I’ll be the first here to raise my hand, because I know that I have, however I do enjoy getting lost in the digital world because sometimes I discover the most awesome creative sites.

I find that sometimes, if I am feeling a little unmotivated I like to find inspiration through other creative means. I know when I have found it because I get a beautiful, excited, butterfly like feeling in my stomach and I motivated to think of new or existing creative projects to work. In trying to gain ideas for what to do for your creative hour, start off perhaps with some of the websites that you like to go to. This can even be sites you go to for the purposes of entertainment like YouTube or Tumblr. A few the websites/blogs that I recently have taken a liking to are DesignLoveFest (‘is a lifestyle blog with an eye for design in style, DIY, food, travel, entertaining and more’), and A Beautiful Mess (‘is a blog all about creating a beautiful life. They share daily inspirations, DIY projects and recipes’). I also find new creative sites or cool art ideas through websites like Pinterest. The best part about Pinterest is that I can create these boards to save these projects, so I can come back to them. Here is my impromptu idea for the week: check out some of the sites that I listed above, or another way to discover new sites is to see who your favorite websites/bloggers are following. Before you know it you will soon get lost and discover a new world of creative websites.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
And venture belongs to the adventurous.”
-Navjot Singh Sidhu

Library- My Escape for Paradise- Free Books for Creative Habits.

When I was a little girl till my final years in high school, my mother had my siblings and I would go to the library every two weeks. Before that within my elementary school days, we had an in house library where we as a class would go routinely to check out books, as part of our extra curriculum activity. It was there that I read some of my favorite childhood tales, by authors like Judy Blume’s  “Fudge” and “SuperFudge”, Dr. Seuss’s “Hat in the Cat,”  and “The Lorax,”  Shel Silverstein’s, “The Giving tree,” to even tween favorite series like, “The Babysitters club.”  Once I was in the upper division of my elementary school there was a program I participated in called “Book Buddies.” This was an activity that involved 5th and 6th graders who were given a book buddy that could be in either the 2nd or 3rd grade. Every couple of weeks we would meet up with our book buddy and read to them.  I was encouraged within both my home and my school, on the importance of reading.  I enjoyed it mostly because I love to immerse myself deep into a story and let my imagination run wild. For someone that is a chronic daydreamer, it was the perfect relationship.

What I didn’t realize or know at the time, was that reading daily or more frequently was actually good for the brain, and helped assist with the learning process. This also included a better development of building one’s vocabulary. Last year I decided to return to that habit again, after realizing that I had grown weary of staring at the screen all the time. I was feeling run down and depressed because inspiration was becoming very scarce. So I turned to my most trusted ally…my daydreams, and it was within my lost thoughts that I recalled a moment within my childhood that was very exciting, my trips to library.

Therefore I holstered unto my bike and peddled away to new adventures location, my local library and resurrected my old friend. Once I begin reading again, I felt liberated once more, and gained a lot more creative inspiration. It truly does sadden me when I see/hear of bookstores closing, and comments mention that libraries are dead. Libraries aren’t dead! They’re antique, which means they’re precious and even more valuable. Plus it’s free! The library is one of my meccas of enlightenment; you have access to learn even more creative skills to enhance you in becoming an even greater artist. Here is my impromptu idea for the week: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to get your free library card, at your neighboring city, and start checking out those books you have always wanted to read. Why not start with one that will enhance your favorite creative skill!

“Everything you need for better future and success has already been written. And guess what? All you have to do is go to the library. “ 

-Henri Frederic Amiel

Educate Create Educate – Knowledge Equals Creative Stimulation

I made a decision to finally return to school at the end of last year. I’d been thinking about it for awhile. The end game goal, for education, is to not only to complete my Masters in Arts, but to also get a PH.D. That sounds like a lot of school but I have taken a good 10 year break from it since my college days.  I reminisced on how creatively stimulated I was through the various courses that I took.  As I have mentioned in some of my past blogs, for me, I am most creative when I have a goal and or deadline that I need to complete. As we all know when being in school, your life is full of deadlines, be it for research papers, homework, performances (arts or sports), prom, etc. As a student you master the deadline. Aside from all that, the other most fulfilling aspect of being in school was the education that I received. I was a rare student when entering college because I already knew exactly what I wanted to do, to simply put it…Theatre and Art. So that’s what I studied.

I was hungry for knowledge and seeking all the ways I could become a better artist, and I was happy to learn the skills to do so. But aside from my majors courses, were the GE’s (General Education) courses that I also had to take. During my time in college, I had moments where I was very reluctant and almost wished I could rebel any of the GE courses that I had to take. For me they seemed like a waste of time, especially since all I wanted to do was focus on my art. But as time passed, as my years of no longer being a student, I realized the value of the knowledge I learned during my colligate years made me the artist I am today. Currently I am taking as art history course titled, “African Art History.” For me the importance of learning any art form is to learn about the seeds of its birth. What creative practice do you admire? And do you know where it started or what its original use was? Or how about learning a new creative art skill?

The beauty of modern day technology is that one doesn’t have to leave their home to learn for example, Photoshop or the art of typography. Websites like Skillshare, offer a variety of awesome courses at a great price. Did you know that if you currently hold a Bachelor’s degree you can take a California community college course for free, by applying for the Board of Education Fee Wavier? To learn more about that contact your cities community college and this may vary in other states. A great way to be inspired is to learn something entirely new, or maybe even refresh an old skill that you once had, a good example could be playing that childhood instrument that you played in your high school band. Here is my impromptu idea for the week:  Check out your local community college for classes that you might be interested in taking. If you’re a busy bee, look into their online courses! Also check out Skillshare, or Youtube for a video that teaches you how to do a new skill (my favorites are for Natural Hair Care and Beauty Trends).  Or you can kick it old school style and check out a book and read about (Shh…more on this next week ;) Education can be fun, challenging, and motivating, and it can even stimulate a great creative idea.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”
- Anthony J. D’Angelo

Creative Opinions - I’m not creative! PAUSE…You Are!

Have you ever gone to a museum and looked at a piece of art and thought to yourself, “Man could I do that?” I know sometimes especially with modern art, you might see a piece of painting that is a huge 48x48 canvas that is painted red and wonder how did that end up in a museum. Truth be told as much as it has been portrayed within the art world, art is not just for the elitist, it’s for the brave.  Being a creative and artistic person takes courage. You’re opening yourself up and allowing yourself to be exposed in an intimate way and sometimes, because you are doing so it’s really hard to take advice or criticism. It’s easy to get discouraged and feel as if you are not an artist, when truthfully the only person that can tell you that you are an artist is yourself. I have heard various stories of directors, writers, singers, etc.  That has shared stories of being discouraged, dismissed, and not acknowledged for their work.

Steven Spielberg applied three times to USC and was rejected all three times.  Anita Baker was told once during an audition that she could not sing, in fact they told her that she was a horrible singer. Van Gogh’s extraordinary paintings did not get the well-deserved attention till after he died! Sylvia Plath was once rejected by the famous publication, The New Yorker. Now did that stop any of these artists from being the creative spirits that they are or/were? Art is very subjective, so it’s a constant see-saw of emotional opinions. I always prefer critical criticism to just plain criticism. Just saying the words, “Your piece sucks, or those pieces are horrible,” or “please…try something else.” These are all negative comments that only hurt the artist soul, and as I quote the lovely and intellectual musician Erykah Badu, “Keep in mind that I am an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.” Everyone is born with a creative gene in them, we need it to survive. Everyone, I believe is also artistic, it’s all about facilitating your strongest artistic skill. Here is my impromptu idea for the week:  Think of the most hurtful opinion someone has said to you about something you did creatively. Write it down, and then look up someone that you look up to in the field of your artistry. Look at their path and see how they handled their rejections. Use it as inspiration to create a new creative project that will inspire you be the best artist that you can be.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
- Pablo Picasso

Hobby Equals Creation- Find a Hobby to Stimulate Creation

What’s your favorite pastime? For America, Baseball is regarded to be a favorite pastime. For me its reading, organizing old photographs, watching cooking shows, listening and discovering great music, and the list goes on. It’s through my moments of pastime that I am sometimes stimulated with a great creative idea. If ever you’re stuck in a creative block, a good way to awaken the muses is to simply start with something small. Last summer I was humbled by being asked to teach a course on “How to be Creative,” based off of my writing from this blog. During my time in teaching the course I discovered two specific comments that were mentioned periodically during the class. 1. Most people did not consider themselves to be the creative type or 2. The projects that they were working on were mostly that of a hobby. Now as an artist I have heard of this word hobby often used almost as an outlet to sort of separate a person from being considered an artist. To be honest the word “hobby” sometimes rubs me the wrong way, as if one has to be privileged to be an artist and if your work has not been seen, well then you’re just simply a hobbyist. Now don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with having a hobby, but I don’t think because you paint privately, or perform music privately, etc., that it makes you any less of an artist.

There are two types of artists in the world in my eyes, those who regard themselves “professional artists” and those that are just simply “artists.”  The “professional artists,” are ones who choose to showcase their work and try to make a living off of their work. Then there are the “artists,” the ones who showcase a talent within the various types of art. Those whose work would be regarded as a “hobby,” well I say use that “hobby” as a footstool towards creation. Use it as inspiration for a creative project, for example I mentioned earlier that I like looking at old photographs. A cool creative project that could come from that could be trying to re-create that photographic moment into another creative, artistic project. Turn the photo into a painting or use that photo to inspire a newly written song. Or you can upload that photograph into Photoshop and re-edit it into a new visual piece of art.  See, hobbies can be works of art, and are great introductions to new innovative creative projects! Here is my impromptu idea for the week: Choose one of your favorite hobbies and create new artistic projects from them, remix your hobby into a piece of creative hour art.

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”
- Carl Jung

30 Day Challenge- Challenge Your Creative Soul

30 can be a pretty good number. In age it’s now considered the new “20”, and while your thirty you tend to have a better concept of yourself, well mostly. It’s said that it takes 30 days to break an old habit or to develop a new one.  30 day challenges are my favorite, when I think of the number 30 because they can often stimulate great creative practices. For example, last month I mentioned that  was participating in the NaNoWrimo (National  Novel Writing Month) 30 day challenge. I tried this challenge before 2 years ago and failed miserable. So I decided I wanted to try… try… again, and this time I reached victory. Now mind you writing a novel in 30 days is NOT easy, if anyone tells you it is, I must apologize in advance for their lies. Sure you can sit and write, but there is also other factors to consider, you know time, subject content, character development, etc.  There is a common understanding that writing is really re-writing, but the challenge of first getting it down is a challenge all on its own. Therefore, I was very proud of myself for even reaching the finish line. According to the founder of NaNoWirmo, over 300,000 writers started participating in the challenge, in the end only a little over 41,000 finished.  I am exhausted, emotionally and creatively drained but it was all worth it, it was my creative marathon.

30 day challenges can truly thrive the artist/creative spirit. At the end of my challenge, I developed the habit of writing a little bit every day. I recently came across a creative invite called “Fun A Day Los Angeles,”  this event is being thrown on the west coast for the first time in January of the new year. Fun a Day was originally inspired by a group of artist that resided in the east coast that wanted to push each other to create something every day(be it a painting, song, poem, etc.) during the winter month of January. At the end of the month they would install and share their work in a public event.  Again by pushing yourself to do something every day for 30 days you can create within yourself a new positive creative habit. The other best thing about monthly challenges is that the don’t only have to be for creative purposes, they could be for health, or even career driven.  For myself I think what I would like to start is doing a new 30 day challenge quarterly. I personally create my best work when I have a timed challenge or a deadline that I have to reach.  Here is my impromptu idea for the week: Challenge yourself, the new year is approaching fast and resolutions will be proclaimed. Perhaps this year you can create for yourself your very own 30 day challenge. Why not let your first challenge be the challenge of   instilling your favorite creative habit within yourself.

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”

- George S. Patton

Be Alone with Yourself- Artist Development Time

My mother once said to me, “You learn something from anything, both good and bad.” I decided to go further with that thought  by adding, that you can also learn something from anyone both good or bad. I once read from a controversial artist that to improve upon their growth as an artist, they like to spend time alone. However, before they do they would ask their friends for (5) of their favorite books, music, painters, and films. Then they would use that mecca of creativity to learn, inspire, and cultivate their artistic spirit. I thought that was a wonderful, and brilliant idea. What a great way to provoke the mind into creative motivation. Many times on my own I go and research or read various blogs on various creative venues to spark that flame. Nonetheless this idea was so obvious to me. Many of us have access to worlds of creativity that we haven’t even touched on, only because we simply don’t ask.

Now, saying that an artist should be alone to develop his/her craft might seem like an obvious thing to do. That being said, think about how much time you actually get to be alone with yourself. If you grew up into a household like I did, there wasn’t really any alone time. I have many siblings, and we all shared a room, my childhood home was not a house, it is an apartment. Plus I come from a West African home. We are very expressive  and passionate when we speak, so it’s not always quiet. I was used to creating with noise.  Aside from small various moments in my life, the first time I experienced real silence was when I was studying at BADA in England, I had my own room, there no TV, no internet, and everyone that day seemed either to stay in their room or gone out into town.  It was the first time that I realized that I was in a completely silent room.  That moment was beautiful, I could hear my thoughts clearly, and for that period of just one hour I could really dig into myself as an artist. So I say to you, my fellow creative spirits, if you can, find a moment a day, or even an hour to be alone to  manifest yourself with your own artist development time (ADT). Here is my impromptu idea for the week: Try out my suggestion, dig into your already available plethora of creative knowledge with your friends by asking them for the their top five favorites, in the various creative outlets of your preference. Then take those suggestions and dig into them during your ADT.

“Artistic growth is, more than anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy: only the great artist knows how difficult it is. “

-Willa Cather

I Challenge You to a Creative Duel!

Smack! Smack! Here, Here I challenge you to duel my friend, choose your weapon wisely. I choose the pen, what will you pick? Okay so that might have been my failed attempt to the old dueling rituals, but I am still challenging you. To a creative duel of course! Goals is a passionate ideal that has been instilled in me since I was a child, and they really do help boost up my creative process when I think about it. Ergo my inspiration to get people to take an hour a day to dedicate to creation. Nonetheless, what about the bigger goals that I have, the BIG dreams? You know the age old story of the Tortoise and the Hare? The moral of the story, at least that I got from it, was that you can obtain any goal in life by taking your time to do it correctly. Fast and easy is not always the way to go, in fact its normally not the best way either.  Here is my proposal for how to obtain your bigger goals, take your time! Break your much bigger goals to smaller ones first. I set myself up for seven goals a month to complete, each goal works towards a bigger goal that I have for myself personally and towards my artistry.

Why the number seven? Well number is a good number not only because it is considered a lucky number, but also because it is the number of completion. There are seven days of the week, there are seven musical notes on the scale. There are even seven colors in a rainbow, and the list goes on. I say seven is a good number, aside from three, but that’s a different conversation. Okay you don’t have to be into numerology to part take in the seven goals a month program. However it is motivation to move yourself towards your goals in an efficient manner. That may seem a lot, but really it depends on the goals. For example for me a few of my goals concern personal health, from exercising five days a week, and eating right. To creative goals, like writing  a certain amount of words daily, to painting small paintings, and/or reading new creative articles to share with you! Here is my impromptu idea for the week: Try it out, create seven creative goals to achieve for the month. You can do it!

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

- Bruce Lee

Daily Ritual (How Artists Work) - Book of the Month

It’s that time again! Yippee, how I love to share about a new book that I have discovered to help stimulate the creative mind. “Daily Rituals (How Artist Work)” Edited and with text by Mason Currey is this month’s book of the month. This 278 page book offers a mecca of stories provided on how various artists, scientists, inventors, musicians, and more on their daily rituals. I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs about the book Steal like an Artist, by author Austin Kleon, and it was within that book that he described the creative tree. The creative tree can be created by following 3 of your favorite artists, and following their paths. To do so, you had to research how your favorite artists got to where they were or are today. Within this book you will read stories on how visual artists like Georgia O’ Keeffe, and Andy Warhol, classical musicians Beethoven and Mozart, and authors like Frank Kafka, and Maya Angelou all started their day. Each ritual, be it intense or minute, provided creative stimulation.  

For example playwright Arthur Miller’s routine was to get up every morning, get into his studio and write. Once he was done writing, he would tear it up; it wasn’t until something really stuck to him that he went on to further develop it. Rituals might seem mundane and boring, especially if you are one who likes mix it up a little. However keeping up a routine in the creative world can help the mind to prepare itself to work. It can even assist to aiding a creative block! As I have discovered with myself, I know specifically for writing, I’d like to routinely write within the evening, there a few exceptions if I have found myself in a quiet environment that I will write in the early afternoon because it is quiet. However when I am painting, I tend to want a louder surroundings. So I paint with music to help stimulate my thought process. Here is my impromptu idea for the week: Create for yourself a daily ritual that would include a creative hour.  

“In other words, the unique value of the ‘authentic’ work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value. This ritualistic basis, however remote, is still recognizable as secularized ritual even in the most profane forms of the cult of beauty.”
 
― Walter Benjamin

Track Yourself! Keeping a log to Study Yourself.

A few blogs back I wrote about the book “Steal like an Artist,” and I had mentioned a few things I had taken away from it and tried. I also mentioned that I would later discuss one other thing that I have been trying out and that has been logging myself. That’s right I have been spying on myself, I am literally keeping a log book of my daily duties. The purpose of keeping a log book on yourself, is to do a self-study. Seeing what you do on a day to day basis can give you a clearer picture of what you are doing in life and if you are taking day-to-day steps towards your goals. So far I have done this project for over a month and half now. I had looked through the log and personally pin pointed certain areas that I wanted to improve in and other areas that I would like to develop further.

For example, I wanted to read more and check my social media less. On my good days I have only checked my social media twice, and on my worst days which I was happy to see was only twice, it was four times a day. On the days I checked it more, I saw that my routines were very mundane, boring rituals of watching TV, and moping around the house. The days that were less were the days that I was more socially interactive, or working on projects that I am passionate about. Looking into more deeply I also realized that I have also kept myself consistent in working towards areas that will keep me creatively motivated. Another example, aside from reading some awesomely cool books, I planned out different goals for the month that I would like to achieve. Goals that would work towards making me a stronger person and artist. I choose to complete seven goals a month (seven is the number known for completion). That might seem a lot, but I like to reach for the stars! If I don’t hit that goal it will only make me determined to push myself further.

Here is my impromptu idea for the week: Log yourself! Try it out for the month, and try including within your day to day a creative hour. After a month analyze the results and look into the areas that you would like to see improvement, and think of the creative ways that you can make it happen.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
- Aristotle