What You Will Need
You’ll probably have most of what you need already. If you are here, you are a creative person, so you will have collected things over the years. Scraps of fabric, threads, bits of lace, yarn, coloured pencils, maybe a set of watercolours. If you want to try something you haven’t before, or haven’t for a long time, you might need to buy some materials. But otherwise, you’ll be fine with what you have already.
The one thing I would encourage you to either buy or find knocking around at home is a sketchbook. Something with decent paper that will take glue and paint. It’s always nice to have something you like, but if you are the kind of person who won’t use something nice in case she messes it up, an old book might be better for you.
If you’re going to buy a sketchbook, I’d recommend Pink Pig. The paper’s nice, the covers are pretty, and they are spiral bound so they will lie flat. They are also a small business, and you can buy the sketchbooks either directly from them (https://www.the-pink-pig.co.uk/collections/sketchbooks), or from Amazon. A5 is a good size, especially if you haven’t used a sketchbook before, but it’s up to you! Also, if you are likely to spend time dithering over whether you want the pages portrait or landscape, then getting a square can be the answer, because then it won’t matter which way up you have it!
Getting Out For a Walk
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about artist’s dates. Although I’m not proposing anything as fancy as visiting your nearest city to visit art galleries and have a nice lunch somewhere, it’s the same kind of idea. You don’t need lots of time or spare cash though. A walk will do. If you have time, you could visit a favourite spot, the beach, the woods, somewhere with interesting streets or a botanical garden.
If you have less time or less energy, it’s fine. Just see where you can piggyback it onto something else you are already doing. Perhaps if you go for a walk on your lunch break, or if you have a dog that needs walking.
A word about getting outside. I know when the weather is horrible it’s often the last thing we feel like doing. But getting some sunlight and fresh air, plus moving about will do you no end of good. Just wrap up warm and wear decent footwear if the it’s likely to be muddy or wet.
If you really can’t get outside, you might be able to do the things at home, especially if you have a garden. But I’d recommend going out for a walk if you can, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.
Drawing or Painting When You Haven’t For Years
If you don’t consider yourself to be much of an artist in a drawing sense, you might prefer to stick to what you would normally do whether it is knitting, crochet, sewing or embroidery, and that’s fine.
However, if you want to try and either it’s been a while or you believe you’re not any good at it, I have some tips. Before I started my textiles degree, I had spent 30 years thinking I couldn’t draw, but all I needed was to develop a little bit of skill (thanks Bob Ross and YouTube!), have someone to gently nudge me in the right direction, and practise. And once I got going, it wasn’t very long before I found I could draw. The hardest thing was letting go of the feeling that I couldn’t.
Here are some things you can try:
Draw with your non dominant hand
Draw with your eyes closed
Try paper without taking the pen or pencil off the paper
Try using unconventional tools, like a stick and some ink, a sponge, and old toothbrush, or your finger.
The purpose of these is that they reduce any expectations you might have of perfection. Nobody is going to draw perfectly with their non dominant hand! Letting go of perfection can be very difficult, and sometimes it can prevent us from even starting. It’s worth considering that things that are perfect are usually a lot less interesting than things that are! We’re definitely aiming for interesting here and not perfect.
Finding the Right Medium
Many of us will automatically reach for a pencil, because that is what we were told to draw with when we were at school.
You might be fine drawing with a pencil, and if that’s ok! However, for some of us, pencil holds too many memories of school art lessons and feeling like we couldn’t do it, or rubbing out our drawings so many times there ended up being a hole in the paper!
If that is you (it was me too!), then I gently suggest trying a pen instead. Using pen raises the question of what to do when you make a mistake. I was advised to keep on going, and just go round again, and again, and again if necessary. I was also told that if it got to the stage where I wanted to throw it away, if I kept on going there was a good chance that the results would be worth it.
Other alternatives to pencil are a brush and ink, or paint, charcoal, or pastel.
What to Do if You Have a Good Idea
If you are using a sketchbook, or keeping things in a folder, it will be easy to come back to things. For the more forgetful among us, some notes might be handy.
You could try out your idea if you have time. Otherwise you can leave it and come back to it. Hopefully you will gain plenty of good ideas from the themes and the prompts. As long as you leave yourself enough clues, you should be able to pick it up again.
Feeling stuck is a normal part of the creative process. There are all kinds of reasons why we feel like this sometimes. Usually the best thing to do is to leave it and come back to it, or try something else. I find going for a walk often helps, or taking a nap.