How much time do you make for your own art and creativity? As creative therapists, it is essential that we make time for our own art. We cannot help our clients through creativity if we are not practicing creativity in our own lives. And art-making can be a great means of self-care, which is so important to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue.
But sometimes it can feel hard to find time for art when we have so much else going on in our lives. Or we can feel tired and uninspired to do art. Even creative therapists can get out of the habit of doing their own art.
Sometimes we need to jump-start our creativity and make art a priority again in our lives.
First, take some time to think about the value of creativity in your life and recommit to making art. Next, step back and look at what is getting in the way of your creative action – not enough time, not the right space or supplies, don’t know where to start, not feeling inspired, a mindset that it isn’t important, or something else. Then make a plan to overcome these obstacles and start taking action.
Here are 5 strategies that help me to jump-start my creativity and keep art-making central to my life:
1. Schedule art time.
Treat your art-making time like an appointment. Put in your calendar and then don’t let other things get in the way. Your other work will still be waiting for you after you do art, but you’ll be more energized and refreshed when you return to it. This is something that I have been trying to do more and more lately. Instead of putting off my art-making until a time that I am caught up with everything else – which is never going to happen – I’ve started to block off time in my schedule to do art.
2. Carry an art journal.
I find that an art journal really gives me permission to do imperfect art. There is more focus on the private nature of the art in a journal, so it can be messy, quick, or unfinished. An art journal can be a place to express your thoughts and feelings through writing and images, but also a place to just play and experiment with art supplies. Carrying your art journal with you also means that you can easily do art during small breaks in your day; you don’t have to reserve art-making to times that you can set up a big project.
3. Take a class.
The structure of a class, whether online or in person, can be a great way to get yourself back into making art. You could take a class in your favorite art media or challenge yourself to learn a new technique or art form. In the early days of this blog, I shared about doing the 6 Degrees of Creativity workshops online as a way to motivate myself to make more art. (Creativebug is another online resource for classes and your first month is only $1.*)
4. Connect with a community.
This is one of the most helpful things for me to do to maintain my own creative energy. One of the benefits of community is as a source of inspiration. When I see the creative work that others are doing, I am more inspired to make my own art. Another great benefit of a creative community is accountability. When I know that others will be asking about my own art-making, I am more likely to prioritize doing it. Some of the ways that I find creative community are through the local art therapy association (STATA), talking with artistic friends, connecting on Facebook and Instagram, and through exchanges like those organized by 6 Degrees of Creativity. I’m currently participating in an art therapy book study with some local art therapists – along with discussing the book each time we meet, we also make art and share our progress on altered books we are doing at home.
5. Get some variety.
If you are feeling stuck in a rut or uninspired with your art, try a new art media or technique. Getting a new art material is so much fun and always inspires me to create (I just discovered Art Bento Box as a great option for this). And learning different techniques gives me a positive challenge and more options to draw from in how I create art. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that my art can be a bit all over the place. Variety helps me stay interested, creative, and energized, so I love to dabble in different art and craft techniques – painting, drawing, origami, quilling, collage, paper cutting, knitting, etc.
I hope these ideas help you keep creativity and art central to your life! Let me know in the comments below which ones work for you or if you have your own strategies to jump-start creativity.
If you’re looking for other ideas to manage burnout and renew your energy, I hope that you’ll join me for the upcoming Transformational Healers Summit for Helping Professionals. Click here to register for free for this online summit that starts on April 2, 2017 – http://www.ariannagray.com/thscm
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Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT-S, ATR is an art therapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, teens, and families. For more information about individual therapy, teen and child counseling, family therapy, teen group therapy, and art therapy services, please visit: www.therapywithcarolyn.com.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in child and family therapy, art therapy, or play therapy. Art therapy requires a trained art therapist.
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