I love this new notebook I got from Two Hands Paperie. I chose the dot grid paper for the interior. I think I will use this for my daily writing in October. Who wants to write with me daily? Join The Devoted Writer here.
Want to play with watercolor this summer? I’m part of 21 Secrets Just Add Water online watercolor class. It begins July 9th and lasts 10 short, beautiful summer days. Each day hosts a different teacher, so you’ll get a variety of processes and perspectives to help you enjoy creative play this summer.
My class is called Garden of Values, and it brings together my coaching and art. I love helping my clients identify their values, and in this class I bring the process alive in full color.
Join us here for a fun, easy approach to watercolor play!
Years ago, when I first became a coach, I wrote an article called Creativity: Why Bother? It outlined 12 ways creativity impacts our lives, even if you don’t become rich and famous from your creative labors. I loved that article and still do.
But recently I have gone through another real-time experience of why my creative passions matter.
You may know that in addition to being a writer, I am a watercolor artist and illustrator. Aside from a very profitable year with my art, I haven’t made a lot of money from it. My main income comes from Original Impulse, where mostly I help people who want to write.
Late last year, I realized that I had to focus more on work and less on my art. Meaning, I had to release my goals/expectations of making money from my art. While this felt right, it also felt like a loss.
I tried to reassure myself that I was still an artist and would still make art for fun. I love the play and power that comes from seeing something colorful appear on the page in front of me. It’s much different than writing.
But aside from some gift cards, I haven’t been in my art studio much this year. I was busy designing and launching the Original Impulse Atelier and The Devoted Writer. I got busy with coaching clients and other projects. My art studio and sketchbook began to gather dust.
Did ‘busy’ happen to you, too? I have been craving my art time.
What works for me is to get some structure around my art-making. When I heard that The 100 Day Project was coming around, I had to commit. Since April 3rd, I have been making patterns with watercolor and ink.
But before the pattern project started, something happened that reminded me that making my art isn’t optional.
I went to a Dr. Sketchy meet-up. These are gatherings with a live model. For anyone who has studied drawing, sketching from a live (usually nude) model is one of the basics of learning how to draw or paint. Dr. Sketchy claims to be the anti-art school, with models wearing often outrageous costumes. It had always sounded fun, so on Easter evening, I grabbed my sketchbook and headed out.
The model posed in a corset and lots of feathers in 5, 10 and 20 minute poses. It had been awhile since I had sketched, so to start loose I used watercolor instead of a pen. It was fun to make quick, colorful studies. For the ten minute poses I did my usual practice of drawing with a pen and adding watercolor.
After each round, the sketchers were asked to bring their pieces to the front for a friendly competition. The moderator and some art guy were the judges. The other dozen or so people were very talented and had clearly gone to art school, so I didn’t expect to win.
But at the second round, as I watched them assess the art, I saw them pointing at my sketchbook. Could they be choosing mine? The moderator reached down and picked up my sketchbook. She held it up and announced it the winner.
I was shocked. I got a goody bag of Easter candy and pencils. For the rest of the day, I rode a wave of joy and delight.
Now, what was the big deal? The adult in me knows that a competition like this isn’t a big deal. It’s not about winning and it’s certainly not about the candy.
But this little victory struck me very deeply, reaching the part of me that cares passionately about making art, not for money or for accolades, but because it’s just who I am. Making marks and applying color to the page evokes a deep, innate joy. When I make art, I am me. When I explore line and color, everything else disappears and I access a presence and clarity that I rarely get elsewhere. This is why I teach the class Drawing as Meditation.
Back in the day, when I was first showing people my sketchbooks, I was surprised at the response. I am always surprised when people like my art. Not that I think it’s bad; it’s just that when I am making for making sake, others’ opinions don’t really matter.
But when I won the Dr. Sketchy competition, I realized that some part of me had given up on the art. And that winning was a reminder, a validation, of who I am. Sometimes we need an outer nudge. Sometimes an external force can help remind us that even if no one ever approves of our writing or art, it’s worth doing anyway.
This creative impulse is embedded deeply within us, and no matter what we do or think about the results, our original impulse to create is never going to leave us.
I’m having fun honoring my creative impulse with the 100 pattern project. I’ve always been in love with pattern and this is the perfect way to explore it.
It’s that time again, the 100 Day Project! The 100 Day Project is a free community project inspired by Elle Luna. There’s no need to sign up, nothing to join. It starts April 3rd, and all that is required is to do something every day for 100 days.
You could write daily for 15 minutes and by the end of 100 days, have collected a serious amount of writing. It doesn’t have to be creative. A friend of mine did a 100-day tidying project. It was cool to follow along.
Challenges can be wonderful for us creatives. They can:
• help us stay focused.
• keep us on track.
• give us much-needed structure.
• can teach us about our medium and about ourselves.
• give us a community of like-minded creatives.
I thrive on these kind of challenges, but only because I make sure they are right for me at the time. I’ve done The 100 Day Project twice – in 2015 (watercolor paintings) and 2017 (painting people). I also did 185 cups series in 2016. Before I leap in and say YES!, I always have to check in with myself about doing them.
See if you fall prey to some of the patterns that can make a challenge more of a mess than a success.
I sometimes take on too much. I love piling on the creative projects. Before I say yes, I take the following steps.
Look at my calendar. What else is happening during that period? I am going to be on my honeymoon in Hawaii and a work retreat in Paris, but those places should inspire the pattern making. I can’t wait to capture the flowers of Hawaii and the architectural patterns of Paris.
What other projects are on my plate? I do have a lot going on now but if I choose something simple, I should be able to do it daily.
When will I do the work? I generally like to start with art, so on days where I don’t have client calls, I can begin in the studio. On client days, the pattern making will be a nice change from the client work later in the day.
Use my questions to make your decision. Do you have the space and time and focus to do this now? April 3rd – July 11th.
I want to be sure the actual work is serving me creatively. I haven’t been making as much art this year aside from birthday cards and the daily self-portrait series. So I’m ready for a creative challenge now. I want to choose something that I’ve wanted to do, that will develop a skill or buff up a weak spot. The portraits I did last year helped me get over the ‘I can’t draw people’ belief.
What 100-part series would serve you now?
Don’t be over-ambitious with the specific project. For this 100 Day Project, I am going to indulge my passion for patterns. I didn’t do enough of them in my other projects and want to play with the inspiration I got from Japan. Choose something that is easy but engaging.
What feels doable for you now?
Doing it for others. Sometimes I take things on because others are doing it and for god’s sake I don’t want to miss anything! But this time, I’m doing this because it’s fun and I like working in a series. I have loved playing with patterns. After my Japan trip I did some Japanese-inspired patterns and want to get back to that. I want to push my creative edge in this way, perhaps with new materials and concepts. I’m excited!
Are you excited/engaged with this project idea?
Sometimes the sharing daily part doesn’t suit me and my goals. Earlier this year, I noticed that for my One True Line series and my self-portrait series, the sharing part really squelched my creativity and originality. I had to stop sharing to be as authentic as I wanted. For this pattern project, I won’t put pressure on myself to share every day. I’ll be on my honeymoon and working in Paris, so while I will do the daily project, I won’t stress out if I can’t post every day.
What sharing style/frequency works for you? Do you need the accountability of sharing daily? Where and how will you share?
Having unclear motivations. It’s always helpful for me to ask myself: For the sake of what am I doing this? I want to be doing art that springs from my internal drive, from my original impulse. I don’t want to do it for approval or to show off. I am doing this because I have been toying with patterns for years and this will feel like a working studio of pattern exploration. Just writing that makes me excited.
What motivates you to do a project like this?
Will you do it? You might be thinking, oh hell no! This is not my kind of thing. I salute you for knowing yourself and honoring what’s right for you. Find out more and join the movement here. Use the hashtag #the100dayproject.
Help me with my pattern project!
I mentioned some of the patterns I fall prey to in my creative life. I bet you had some in mind as you read this!
For my pattern project, I plan to do abstract and colorful patterns. And I thought it would be fun to depict the patterns that play out in our creative lives. Some of these include checking email many times a day, taking on too many projects at once, and not finishing projects.
What patterns play out in your creative process? Share your challenges below. I may use the pattern to visually make a pattern.
Share your thoughts about doing The 100 Day Challenge below!