Creative Insights: Quinn McDonald

Jumpstart Your Creativity: 5 Tips To Get You Going

Your studio is your haven, your refuge . . . your prison. You step into your space with dreams of color and texture, and every one of your ideas vanishes. The empty space in your head immediately fills with panic. You had a bunch of ideas just last night! What happened to them?

Take a deep breath. Your creative life has not flatlined, it just needs a jumpstart to get the ideas flowing again. Here are five suggestions to jumpstart your creativity.

1. Don’t leave the studio—It’s where all your juicy stuff lives. Try a technique you love with new materials. I once used kitchen twine—usually used for trussing turkeys—to tat. Tatting is a lacemaking technique that uses very fine thread. Substituting big for little gave me the idea of using exaggeratedly big materials when I demonstrate a technique.

2. Keep your studio set up for a project. Finishing a project gives you satisfaction. It also allows you to start something else, something new or different. Leaving your studio set up for a project, shortcuts the negative self talk you allow yourself to have while setting up. You can come in and get to work instead of spending a lot of time cleaning and scrubbing.

3. Turn off the TV, put on some music and dance. If you must clean and set up a project, don’t listen to your inner critic. Instead, engage your creative juices by making up your own dance. No one is watching. Sing out loud. If you lack singing talent, add volume. No one will care. Moving puts you in a good mood and gets oxygen to your brain. Watching TV makes your brain dribble out your ear.

4. Do something completely different. Mosaic tile, knitting, stenciling, painting—anything you don’t normally do—can stretch your creative muscles. Your color palette will look different, more interesting. Doing something you don’t normally do gives you permission to not be perfect. Choose inexpensive materials and make the goal fun, not sales. It adds to your creative confidence that you can start and finish a project.

5. Pick up a phone book (it’s a big paperback that you use when you glue or press stuff). Use the yellow pages, read the alphabetical headings on random pages and imagine what a person would do if they had such a job: Donut-draperies, ornamental-oxygen, pneumatic-polygraph. Or, grab a dictionary, randomly open a page and point to a word. Link the word to a creative idea. Too much freedom hinders creativity, a few restrictions boost your creativity.

Quinn McDonald is an artist whose book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art will be published by North Light in July, 2011. She’s also a writer and certified creativity coach.


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