Art is to the soul what food is to the body: nourishment. There’s a part of us that yearns to express ourselves through a creative outlet. What better channel than painting to unleash the artist in you?
Sometimes we allow procrastination to keep us from discovering what we are capable of. Don’t do that to yourself by fixating on finding the perfect time or on having all the necessary equipment. Learning how to paint is a gradual process, one that starts with the inclination to learn and swells with the passion for creating.
You don’t need to wait for inspiration. The moment you decide to spend time on your creative practice, you will see that there is inspiration everywhere, be it in the minuscule dewdrop on a leaf in your garden or the the sun's rays falling on the pages of a book.
If you’re left wondering how to be more creative when you only have a few minutes to spare every day, here’s how:
Give Focus and Structure to Your Creative Practice
As you know, art is subjective and there’s no right or wrong when it comes to painting. There is simply what works for you and what makes you happy. If you don’t know what that is, you can start by experimenting with a few techniques:
1. Paint a Mandala.
Mandalas offer a great framework for your creative practice as they are simple yet leave room for unlimited interpretations. And their repetitive structure is known to be therapeutic. You won’t realize where the time went as you sit immersed, bringing your design to life brush stroke by brush stroke.
Start with a blank circle, then fill it with the shapes, colors, and patterns of your choice. There are a great many mandala designs available online if you want some ideas, or you could simply look for patterns on objects in your surroundings. Take the Aztec print on your bedspread and combine it with the looping borders on a vase. Alternate the two or incorporate other styles. There are no limits to what you can do. Mandalas are the perfect getaway from your daily routine.
2. Sketch a Still Life Scene.
The purpose of a still life is to emphasize the beauty in mundane objects surrounding you — objects that you usually don’t give a second glance. Sketching a still life scene can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be.
In order to capture the scene on paper, focus first on how light falls on the object and notice what aspects of it are in shadow. It might take some trial and error to ace this form of art, but it’s well worth your efforts because the end result can be surprising and delightful. For starters, consider simple things like a chest of drawers or the clichéd bowl of fruit.
3. Get Started on an Intricate Piece.
Not satisfied with a basic creative practice anymore? You can brainstorm a complex piece, and work on it daily for 10 minutes (or more, if you are feeling motivated!)
The benefit of working on a larger visual piece is that it keeps your creativity flowing. You will not find yourself inspired one day and unable to think of an idea the next. Rather, the urge to finish the painting will drive you forward.
If you are likely to change your mind frequently, you can finish outlining the scene in a day and keep adding color to it over the next few days. That way, you don’t lose the image in your mind and you have a solid foundation for your creative outlet.
4. Paint a Square a Day.
This is yet another way of accomplishing a larger art project. Divide your canvas into a grid. Depending on the size of the canvas, you can easily get 9 or 16 squares out of it. Now, challenge yourself to paint one square a day.
Challenging your mind is a surefire way to enhance your cognitive abilities. So set a timer each day, spend 10 minutes on one square, and paint to your heart’s content.
You don’t even need to visualize all the squares together as one cohesive piece. If you are feeling particularly inspired, each square could contain a different story or object. Maybe the entire painting could be an abstract or out-of-the-box piece. After all, panels are a trend these days.
5. Practice Color Mixing.
Understanding the relationships between colors is a significant aspect of painting. What moods and effects can you achieve with different color combinations? What shades on the color wheel can you use to create dynamic color blocking?
You could devote a few minutes each day to mixing colors and creating palettes. This will help you learn how to be more creative in less time. Plus, observing how new shades stem from new combinations may inspire fresh ideas.
You could even develop your own signature color palette by mixing and using unique shades as a common thread in all your artwork. If there’s one skill you ought to invest time in to become a seasoned artist, this is it.
While you are busy color mixing, don't forget to document your discoveries in a color chart or the pages of a notebook.
6. Get Inspired by Nature.
Nature will continuously give life to your creative practice. There is so much magic in the environment that you simply cannot run out of inspiration.
Nature studies have also been known to bring about a sense of peace and comfort. If your work schedule has you burnt out, take five minutes to sit down somewhere surrounded by nature or take a walk.
Whether you paint outside or within the comfort of your home, focus on nature imagery. It could be a flower bud or a palm tree reaching for the sky. Try to capture the image in a minimal number of strokes to make this an easy 10-minute-long activity. If you want to get the details right, watch a video tutorial for nature painting.
7. Maintain a Painting Journal.
A painting journal is a notebook that holds your journey as an artist. Just like a writer jots down their day to day life, you could manifest your thoughts and feelings in the form of simple paintings in your journal.
Remember, it doesn’t need to be perfect; the goal is to reflect and capture your inner world. One trick to keeping up the appearance of your journal and fixing any errors is to overlay, or collage, scraps of paper and incorporate them into your piece.
A painting journal can be very fulfilling. At the end of each week or month, you can go back and flip through the pages of your painting journal to see what your days looked like. You’ll be able to cherish more memories this way.
Maintaining a painting journal not only improves your creative practice, but also helps make painting a habit. When you consistently paint in your journal for a couple of weeks, you will naturally be motivated to keep doing it in the long run.
Motivate Yourself to Paint Every Day
With enough creative practice, you’ll be able to become a skilled artist. But ensuring that you paint daily can be tougher than you realize. If you are new to this and not entirely confident, it might take more than sheer will power to become consistent.
At times, all it takes is an especially tedious or burdensome day to make you want to drop the paintbrush and do literally anything else. But if you are determined to paint regularly, then nothing can get in the way of your creative pursuits. Once you have decided what artistic techniques you are going to employ, adopt one or more of these methods for motivating yourself.
1. Ask Your Friend to Check up on You.
Pick someone from your social circle or your family who supports you and whom you can rely on. Make them your sounding board. Every time you add the finishing touches to an art piece, show it to them and ask their opinion. This doesn’t necessarily have to translate to how "good" or "bad" the art is (because that’s not always helpful). Just ask them to share how the painting makes them feel, or what it makes them think of.
Get them to check up on you if you haven’t discussed your art with them in a week or more. This is an excellent tactic to keep yourself accountable since you are now no longer the only person invested in your creative practice. When you have someone to answer to, you are more likely to be consistent.
That said, be sure to communicate your expectations or hopes so they don’t end up placing unwanted pressure on you. If this happens and you are not in a state of mind to receive the external input, your feelings towards art can take a turn for the negative. To prevent this, make sure you and the other person are on the same wavelength.
2. Track Your Habits.
For those who like to lead an organized life, lists and trackers are crucial. Tracking your habits is a great way of identifying where you need to focus more effort, and what you have been making good progress towards.
Keep a log of your painting habits to make sure that you spend at least a few minutes every day on your creative practice. Habit tracking can be done via a physical calendar on your bedside table, a bullet journal, or even an app.
A visual representation of your daily habits can keep you motivated to not miss a day. No matter what time of day you indulge in your creative practice, be sure to record it.
If you are the kind of person who is easily bored of the same thing again and again, or you tend to get demotivated easily, try and include positive reinforcement. For instance, when you finish painting for a few minutes, allow yourself to watch an episode of your favorite TV show or enjoy a special treat. Positive reinforcement is a proven approach to keeping up new habits.
4. Set Long Term Goals.
Goal setting is another mechanism to make your habit tracking more effective. What do you hope to achieve with your painting skills? Is it just a hobby or something you could pursue as a career? Your goal might be to submit an abstract piece for an upcoming contest, or build a portfolio to apply to your favorite art college.
Whatever your goal may be, make sure it is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. A carefully set goal will provide the intrinsic motivation you need to encourage you to paint a little each day.
Some people prefer to make vision boards, while others would rather mark their calendars. Either way, quantifying and making your goal measurable ensures that you can record your progress.
Don't Wait to Reap the Benefits of Painting Every Day
Painting is a rewarding endeavor with numerous personal benefits. Whether you want to take a mindfulness break from your work day, or develop a new skill, you can learn how to be more creative with very few tools.
There are many paths to begin your creative practice, but be sure to start simple so you don't overwhelm yourself. Viviva Colorsheets are a portable, hassle-free solution for beginner and expert painters alike. You can paint for minutes or hours, no matter where you are. Just pop them in your bag and you will always be prepared to get creative.
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