I believe in doodling. I believe in doodling everywhere, every day, in any and every medium you have at hand. Then again, I am a helpless doodler; I was that kid that would sit in the front row of every class and doodle. It wasn't until I began being creative for my career, though, that I started to grasp the great importance of doodling, at least, to me.
Creativity, I think, is like a friend who often calls to have lunch. If you ignore the friend or decline their invitation enough times, they will eventually stop asking and likely stop contacting you altogether. Creativity, at least for me, behaves quite similarly. True, it certainly doesn't appear at the most convenient times. In fact, my most creative times tend to be between 11pm and 2am. Or when I'm trying to work on other things. Or sleeping. But I've learned the hard way that if I ignore those niggling ideas and "hey, what if"s enough, my inspiration will soon be zapped. So, I doodle.
My goal as a working artist is not only to paint and, you know, earn enough money so that I can eat that week, but also to nurture my creativity. After all, the last thing an artist wants is to burn out or have a long-lasting block. So, I strive every day to care for my creativity and not take it for granted. How do I do that, you ask? Well, I'm still very much figuring things out, but here are some things that work for me:
- Take lots of short breaks. I like to work for 30-60 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute break, preferably outside and moving around.
- Related to the former, I find going to the gym/doing yoga/hiking are good ways to help me when I'm stuck in a project. Plus, they help relieve tension/frustration from sitting at my desk all day.
- Be outside! I will soak up sunshine like a cat (albeit with loads of sunscreen), and find that I am most inspired when I'm out in a forest.
- Switch between projects throughout the day. Often, I'm at different stages in different projects, so if one painting is proving particularly difficult/draining, I'll work on one where I'm doing something simple like layout/design for a while for a bit of a break.
- Doodle! The sillier the better. Break out the box of 94 crayons! Draw on the driveway with sidewalk chalk! Try out a style completely different from your usual. Heck, even arrange your recycling into fun shapes/patterns. Anything to help shake up your perspective and creative muscles. Most of all though, have fun! Practicing doing detailed studies and difficult techniques is all well and good, but remember why you started doing art in the first place. Chances are, you thought it was fun, and I'll venture it even made you happy. So reclaim that elementary-school enthusiasm for coloring or building blocks!
"But I don't know what to draw!" you say. Well, too bad! The world is filled with inspiration. As is the internet. Especially Pinterest. Especially illustration boards on Pinterest. Also, most people love getting art. They don't care much what it is or what the quality is (the latter I can certainly attest to). Art is a way to show people that you care about them and think they're worthy of your time and energy, which I think we show far too little. So take 5 minute, draw your mother's cat, your friend in her new dress, your significant other being a bamf at the gym. I think we have a duty as artists to make the world a more beautiful place, and what is more beautiful than happiness?