Let’s face it, there are a lot of suggestions, practices, and tools out there to help spur your creativity. But what happens when you feel like you’re simply out of ideas? When you feel as though you’ve tried all the tips and tricks other artists use and you still can’t unleash your creative mind?
You just have to look at a four-year-old coloring and drawing without a thought to know that creativity is ingrained in all of us. From what you choose to wear in the morning to the way you decorate your home, you’re relying on your creativity. It’s only when we place enormous importance on it in our artmaking that we begin to worry about whether we’re truly creative or not.
This article is about trusting that you’re already a creative being and,that as an artist, you can tap into your creativity by simply making a few changes. This is not an article about specific techniques or tools, but more about opening yourself up to the creativity that already resides inside you.
Karly Santiago, Unsplash
8 Ways to Unleash Your Creative Mind
- Change Your Mindset
When we come into the world, our mind is malleable and ready to embrace everything we experience. During those formative years, the ideas about who we are and what we’re capable of are set by those closest to us—our parents, siblings, teachers. Without even realizing it, their attitudes towards us help program our beliefs about ourselves. Those beliefs become part of who we are for the rest of our lives. For instance, if someone told you when you were young that your art wasn’t very good, then that belief became ingrained in you. Now, every time you try to create art, you may feel resistance that comes from that core belief. This belief is known as your mindset.
If you can identify those core beliefs keeping you from creating, then the way to recapture your creativity is to challenge and change them. It’s a scientific fact that we can change the neural pathways that have us stuck in certain mindsets. To do this, first you identify the negative belief and then reframe it as a positive affirmation that you repeat over and over several times a day.
If your belief is that you aren’t creative, then your new mindset becomes “I am creative.” By writing this affirmation on sticky notes placed where you can see them throughout the day and by repeating it to yourself as often as you can, a new pathway is created in the brain and you begin to develop an undisputed belief that it is true.
- Change Your Environment
Involving all your senses is a great way to get your creativity churning. When you visit a museum, does seeing the artwork make you want to run home and start painting? When you enter a bakery, does the tantalizing smell make you want to pull out the mixing bowls? Does the sound of your favorite rock band have you tapping your pencil on the table, itching to get drawing? Our five senses are receptors to creativity. If you’re always in the studio, maybe it’s time to try painting en plein air. If you always listen to classical music when you create, give country music a try. Even adding a scented candle to your workspace can conjure memories or feelings that can lead to creative ideas.
- Change Your Perception
For artists, perspective is vital to getting a drawing to look correct. It’s the same with creative thinking. Perspective in this context is how we see our art at the moment. We may perceive that we have no talent, yet from the perspective of those who see our work, we’re very talented. As we allow our inner critics to become louder, our perspective gets narrower and narrower. To keep the creative juices flowing, we have to widen our perspective and see that what we create today is worthy.
A great way to do this is to go back to your initial attempts at artmaking. In the beginning, your work was hindered by so much doubt that you can almost see the hesitancy. But, as you got more skilled with your medium, you gained confidence. As you examine your art process journey, you’ll see how much you’ve improved and your perspective will begin to widen enough to allow your creativity to flow again.
- Change Your Expectations
Great artists make it look easy. But when you see your favorite artist giving a demonstration, and you give it a try, you might get frustrated and beat yourself up for not having that level of talent; there’s nothing that kills the creative spirit more than comparing ourselves to others. That’s why wherever you are right now in your skillset, you should set realistic expectations. Expecting yourself to do masterful work when you’ve only been making art a short time is unreasonable. Give yourself some grace and allow your creativity to take the lead.
- Change Your Materials
Have you ever watched children create art? They will use anything and everything—macaroni, scraps of paper, glitter, leaves. You can give them whatever art tool you have handy and they’ll happily go about creating something interesting. Maybe it’s time to give your creativity the gift of a new material with which to work. If you’re used to working on a standard canvas, why not try painting digitally, using a painting app. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try using markers or brush pens. Now’s as good a time as any to try. Committing to only one medium is like marrying the first person that comes along—you may miss the one that will make you truly happy!
- Change Your Process
Doing the same thing, in the same way, each time can be a great way to gain confidence in your ability, but it can also hinder the inner creator from reaching higher. If you feel like you’re not being as creative as you’d like to be, try doing things in a different way or order. Maybe you always draw with your right hand. Instead, try drawing with your left one. Maybe you always paint from dark to light. Why not start with your lightest areas first. It might feel uncomfortable, but you may also surprise yourself and discover a whole new way of creating!
- Change Your Routine
Just as changing your process can help unleash your creativity, changing your daily routine works the same way. For many artists, having a routine is essential to maintaining their art practice. They have actions they do when preparing to create that act as “triggers” to start their process. If you usually make art in the morning, see what happens when you create in the afternoon or at night. By reshuffling your daily activities, you might discover that you’re actually more alert and creative at night instead of in the morning.
- Change Your Tribe
Studies have shown that most of us are influenced by the five people with whom we surround ourselves. By hanging out with the same few people, it’s easy to adopt their attitudes and opinions. That’s why it’s so important to make sure there are people in your inner circle that are supportive of your art making goals. When we feel like others are judging us or may have negative things to say about our work based on what we’ve seen from them in the past, our creativity becomes stifled. You can expand your circle to include supportive people by joining an in-person or online art group. Sharing your work and enthusiasm with other like-minded folks can go a long way in encouraging you to become more creative.
As you can see, having the right tools and knowing how to use them sometimes isn’t enough to stay creative. Sometimes, you get in a rut and think your creative well has gone dry. But creativity is a never ending source and although it may seem stalled, it’s still in there, ready to spill out. We hope these eight hacks will give you plenty of ways to keep your creativity alive and well.