Tag, you’re it! Remember how those words got you excited? I do, I would race across the grassy field of my elementary school, chasing down the culprit who elected me as his/her tagger. Thinking more on it, the word that rings the most in my head is joy, pure joy. Even if I was breathing harder and stopping to catch my breath, my smile appeared even bigger. Sometimes I can come across that same feeling again when I think of a really cool idea to explore, or discover a new artist, etc. Sometimes I want to go back to that mindset, to go back in living in a single moment. Because if you think about it, that’s exactly what you were doing that moment that you were tagged, all you could think of was racing as fast as you can to tag back your opponent. Nothing else mattered, and it was only after when you were done playing, that you thought about what your next step was.
I have heard that animators from various film studios often work in an environment where it is encouraged for them to play. It can be within the moments of playing a video game, or even a game of basketball that an animator can discover a facial expression or something that was said to inspire their next character or film idea. Now of course we are not all animators or are lucky enough to work in an environment where you can play video games. However this is not an excuse to not go out and play. As we get older certain games like tag aren’t played as much, in place of it we have well the Wii or Xbox. Which aren’t bad, if they are played in a healthy matter, I’m a fan of Mario cart myself, but there is something about moving physically, out and about, that can help bring clarity to the mind. And clarity can be a keep ingredient in thinking creatively. Here is my impromptu idea for the week: Go out and play! No seriously go out and play a childhood game, take it way back to hide and seek, tag, kick ball, red rover, etc. I could go on forever. Try to implement an idea for a creative project you want to work on before you start playing. Don’t think of it while you’re playing only after you’re done. See if it helps to inspire your next great project.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old;
we grow old because we stop playing.”
- George Bernard Shaw
I saw an anonymous quote the other day while looking through my Pinterest dashboard, the quote said, “Do one thing each day that makes you happy.” It is such a lovely and simple quote, a goal that would seem quite attainable. Then I thought more on it, and it made me think, metaphorically speaking, if everyone were able to do that, would that change the outlet of our world? I guess one could also dwell on the concept of what happiness is to begin with, so I decided of course to start with me. What exactly makes me happy? To start off I decided to think of the list of things that make me happy; the first item on my list was ART, then I proceeded to break down what exactly it was about ART made me happy.
Art allows me in moments when I feel somewhat trapped to feel very free. Which is why in less creative times, I am not so cheerful, especially when I am having a creative block. However that is why I discovered that taking a creative sabbatical can be a blessing all on its own. Partaking in a least one creatively happy activity is the one thing that makes me feel blissful. Furthermore, I believe that everyone deserves to feel joyful. So here is a question to think about, what makes you happy? Earlier in the year, Pharrell (a musician) had a song titled, “Happy,” that became a huge hit this year. The song most definitely had a wondrous, whimsical energy to it. Every time I personally heard it, I couldn’t help but to bob around like a little kid. Childhood, is one of the few moments in my life where I might have been the most happy. Here is my impromptu idea for the week: For your daily creative project, think of the one thing that makes you happy. Like me, start off by creating a list, and then examine it for any possible creative projects that you might want to get into. Everyone deserves to be happy, so why not get there creatively.
“The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy -
it’s all that matters.”
- Audrey Hepburn
Spring has become one of my favorite seasons. Its spiritual aesthetic of renewal is a universal theme that everyone can relate to. Spring cleaning, new leaves and flowers sprout out on trees, the weather starts to get a little warmer, and people are even a little friendlier. It is the perfect season to become inspired and create that new project that you decided to put on hold during the winter. I find that even within myself, LE Painter emerges more in the spring after harvesting new ideas during winter months. Fall and winter are more of LE Writer’s months (cold seasons are great for writers). Think on the subject of harvesting and renewal when it comes to the ideals of creativity. Sometimes you gather many thoughts of creating these really cool projects but you don’t really act on them. So instead, you just “harvest” those ideas into the back of your mind. Then one day you remember why you wanted to create this project and then alas it becomes resurrected!
For myself, I am chronic daydreamer, so I am always harvesting ideas, goals, projects, and dreams that I would love to accomplish. I was reminded by my middle school art teacher that I was always a big dreamer! As always the goal of this blog is to encourage an hour dedication of creation one hour a day, and we’ve also discussed that sometimes, you have dry days. However, even in moments that you think are dry spells, are really days that you just have to unlock your harvest box! So here is my impromptu idea for the week: Create a harvest journal! This journal can defiantly be a creative one, for ideas on creating awesome creative journals check out this artist Kelly Rae Roberts (www.kellyraeroberts.com). She has written a couple of books on scrapbooking and journaling that will help jolt some great creative ideas. Share your awesome harvest journals with me at email@example.com! I will place them up on my website, to help inspire others to do the same.
“Whether you and I and a few others will renew the world someday remains to be seen. But within ourselves we must renew it each day.” - Hermann Hesse
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
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
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
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
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 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
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. “