Warmups are a way to deepen and develop your creative practice.
Do you warm up as part of your creative practice?
Yes, I mean a physical, doing something kind of warmup. Just like you’d do before your workout or sport. I’ve found that spending a few minutes with a warm up activity helps me ease into the more complicated project I’m working on. So, what does a creative warmup look like?
No, Cleaning Up Is Not a Warm Up
Some people clean the studio space or work area before starting but that’s a preparatory activity, not an actual warmup. That’s because creative warmups have specific characteristics.
Directly related– If you’re getting in the mindset to draw, perhaps you want to doodle some little figures and shapes, painting may call for swashing paint around practice papers (I use these in collage projects and the really pretty ones go into my Artist Ephemera Kits) and writing might need a page or two of hand-written free-form journaling. The important thing is that the warmup contain aspects of the creative activity you’re getting ready to start.
Easy and low expectation – A good warmup is easy enough for you to do that you don’t have to think much to execute it and you don’t worry about the outcome or finished result. Before I work on dimensional pieces like mixed media dolls, I like to make tissue paper flowers because they’re easy for me (once I learned how) and I don’t really care how they turn out. Some of them have been pretty but some have been sadly misshapen – either way, I don’t care, so it’s a good warmup.
Fast and simple – Warming up should only take a few minutes with minimal planning and supplies. Keep a warmup kit handy with your favorite materials so you can get started fast. The idea is to get started quickly and involve your hands and mind in a project related activity with a minimum of fuss.
While warming up and project work are both creative acts, larger projects are deeper and more thoughtful. But, sometimes all you have time for in a day is a warmup activity. That’s OK – everyday creativity, no matter how small, is what keeps you moving forward in your creative practice. Just keep making stuff!
Do you have a favorite warmup or is this a new idea for you? I’d love to know!
The good news – creativity can be developed.
The bad news – it takes work.
To create is to work. That’s why art and other creative output is referred to as “artwork” and a “body of work.”
That doesn’t mean the work is drudgery; it can be joyous. But, the nature of creative exploration has to encompass trials, missteps and outright failures or it won’t lead anywhere worth going.
As you expand your creative practice and output, you learn about your chosen craft and how to work within its constraints while bending them to your own vision. This intersection of practical knowledge and experience is where inspiration lives.
The difficulty is persevering on the path to get to that intersection because you don’t get there overnight. It takes time – maybe a few days or a few years, depending on complexity – and the road on the way is sometimes frustrating.
Learning to find reward in the creative process itself is how to remake the work of creating into joy.
How do you find joy in creating even when it doesn’t go as well as you’d like?
From the Studio:
I’ve been working with paint and paper and other stuff all together (the fancy term for that is “Mixed Media”) to make a Collage Journal Cover and wanted to share what I came up with. You can download the 7-page PDF tutorial for full instructions with pictures here.
A Project to Get Moving
A kind friend gave me this little roughly 5 x 7 notebook from the dollar store. It was just the nudge to get me started!
While you’ll find more information in the tutorial, the gist of it is that I removed the covers from the notebook and painted them (both sides) with a metallic bronze acrylic craft paint. Then using the Steampunk Time Passing set of four tags, I glued two on each cover.
Fun With Paint
The next step was the fun part: crackle painting! Instead of commercial crackle medium, I used plain white glue as the medium and then over-coated that with cream acrylic paint.
Finishing Up and Moving On
Next came embellishments and final touches. Last, I sealed the whole thing with spray sealer and put it back together. It was a fun project – not too involved but very satisfying. The perfect thing to get moving again!
Feel free to share this tutorial with anyone you think will like it, but please don’t use it commercially or claim ownership of it. If you liked this and found it helpful, I’d love to hear from you and learn about your project.
We’ve been talking about creative practice and how creativity can be learned and strengthened. You can be more creative with practice – even if you don’t think you have the time. Here are three easy ways to get started today!
Doodle something, anything
It doesn’t have to be fancy, just making random marks on a piece of scrap paper is a fast, easy and accessible way to start creating. Doodling can help you focus on a task that may otherwise have your attention wandering or it can give your subconscious mind (where a lot of creative thought happens) a way to signal ideas. Don’t hold back – doodle away!
Don’t just sit there trying to come up with an idea. Get moving in whatever way is available to you: take a walk, stand by your chair, dance around the room. Physical movement has been shown to have positive effects on creativity and is good for you too!
Play, simple play
This one is closely related to moving around but adds the element of playfulness. Keep a selection of toys around to play with. They can be kid toys, like Legos or Play-Doh, or grown up toys, like fancy wind ups and art models; it’s your choice. Doing something with your hands is good for the brain – and fun too!
There’s a lot more to a deep and evolving creative practice, but taking small creative steps everyday is the start! What do you do to practice creativity? Tell me about it!
Get any Craftsy Class for $19.99 – Valentine’s Day Only!
Instead of candy and flowers, learn something new with this one day only sale at Craftsy – the digital destination for makers!
Get Any Class For $19.99 with code HEARTSANDCRAFTS at Craftsy through 2/14/18 11:59pm MST.