- Put together a travel art kit. Grab a small bag and put some basic art supplies in it. It doesn’t have to be fancy–you can even use a plastic ziptop bag or a pencil box. Make sure it’s small enough that you can toss into you purse or bag. My travel kit contains a small watercolor set, waterproof Pitt pens, a water brush, a mini spray bottle filled with water, Sharpies, small scissors, and small pieces of paper (around 4×6 inches). It sounds basic, but I find myself feeling overwhelmed when I have too many options.
- Sketch or paint for 5 minutes. Try not to think too hard about it. You can paint random colors, doodle with your ink pen, splat paint on your paper, scribble, you get the idea. The key is to not judge what you’re doing. Work on it for a couple of minutes and move on to another one. Think of it as morning pages (a la The Artist’s Way) for artists.
- You can finish it later. Don’t feel obligated to finish an entire painting or drawing in one sitting. Most artists don’t finish an entire piece of art in one go. The doodle or sketch you created at lunch can be painted in or colored after dinner. Maybe you can draw or collage on the pieces you painted earlier.
- Paint on a smaller scale. As I mentioned in #1, I mostly paint on smaller pieces of paper. I use index cards, scrap cardstock and watercolor paper that I cut into approximately 4×6 inches. I don’t measure, I just eyeball it so the edges aren’t straight and that’s ok (see #5). The smaller canvases are less intimidating. I don’t feel like I have to fill the entire page. Plus if the piece isn’t working for me, I won’t feel guilty recycling it (or painting on the backside).
- Become an Imperfectionist. I used to think that all of my drawings and paintings had to be perfect. I would paint something over and over until it looked the way I thought it was supposed to be. Then I became afraid to paint or do anything else to it for fear of messing it up. Basically, I was stifling my creativity. Get messy, get dirty, and paint (draw) with feeling. Ignoring my inner critic is something I struggle with the most.
- Paint with a friend or your kids. If you can’t carve out alone time to create, involved those around you. I have special paint palettes for the kids (so they won’t mess up my good paints). We sit together and paint to our hearts’ content. My 7-year-old daughter paints thoughtfully while my 3-year-old loves slapping the paint on his paper. I keep a lot of paper on hand so they can create as much as they want. If you’re meeting a friend for lunch, pull out your travel art kit during your post-meal coffee. You can still chat while you paint.
I brought my travel kit to lunch with my friend last week. As our kids played in the Ikea kids’ area, we caught up on each other’s lives and painted. Painting together felt relaxed and fulfilling at the same time. She painted a still life of the (fake) potted plant on the table, while I painted more art journaling type of pieces. Eventually our boys joined in and drew along side us.
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