Plan Your Artistic Practice - Create the Right Mood and Mindset
How to plan your artistic practice to fit into your daily life… Create the right mood and mindset for your drawing by making time and having the right space for creativity.
The objective of this lesson is to plan and prepare for your artistic time so that you are creating in a productive, mindful, and calming mindset for an enjoyable session.
In this lesson, we’re going to make sure that you’ve got everything you need to make your creative times relaxing and enjoyable.
Aside from a pencil and some paper, the most important thing you need to bring is the right mindset – but we’re not going to leave it to chance.
There are some easy ideas that, once you get into a routine, will bring your busy mind into the quiet, meditative place where it’s so enjoyable to get creating – because creating the right setting is really about creating the right mindset.
Setting aside a time
The first thing that we need is time – some dedicated time set aside for you to prioritise your needs, nurture your self-care, and start to nourish your soul.
It’s up to you to decide how much time you’d like to set aside for your creative pursuits. I’d recommend setting aside about an hour at a time, so that you can relax yourself into it and not feel rushed. But if you feel that 10-minute slots work better for your day, then that’s okay too. I’d just encourage you to ensure that you’re not short-changing your own needs for this relaxing and creative time.
Although it’s a popular challenge to ‘draw everyday’, it’s not something I personally subscribe to. I never want my important creative time, which is a necessary relaxation and balancing time for me, to feel forced, a chore, or something to get through or be ticked off.
Try to think of setting aside this time as something to savour – a ‘treat’ – a luxurious necessity. A one or two-hour session (that’s sometimes extended) once or twice a week works well for me.
Don’t do too long in one stretch, either, or you’re likely to get overtired and uninspired. The quality of your work will suffer, and you’ll feel disappointed in what you’re achieving.
Although it’s important that you do set aside time and space so that you can be calm and still and begin your artwork, it’s equally important not to force this time when you’re overtired, ill, or super-busy. There’s no need to add to your stresses!
Focus on keeping to a schedule where you feel like your art time is a luxurious necessity and not a chore to be ticked off.
Setting aside a space
It’s important to think about where you’re going to do your drawing. These days, I work at a foldable dining table in our living room. It’s not a dedicated art space but needs to be used for other household activities too, including eating meals, so my art gear needs to be cleared away every time.
I used to long for a separate art studio, like I thought ‘proper artists’ had – and gaze with envy at those shiny Instagram photos of ‘my studio’. I even, for many years, believed that I wasn’t able to do art because I didn’t have a little table or anything to be my dedicated art desk – silly!
Then, one day, I woke up and realised that I could get started just where I was. I’ve drawn cross-legged on my bed, cross-legged on my sofa, on my knees on my sofa, and now I’m more than happy to share this little spot at our dining table (where I’m actually writing this, right now!).
Although I have to clear my art away after each session, I have my pens stacked nearby and I have a little box for my papers, pens, and pencils handy - so it’s always ready to go and simple to clear away too, so that this part of the creative session is never a chore.
An art bag, box or folder would be perfect for this too.
Do you want to create on your own or with other family members there, even if they’re not creating alongside you? I quite like creating with my husband there and sharing creative time with him, but I do tend to do most of my drawing on my own.
When you’ve found your little art space, do consider the lighting. Art is so much easier and enjoyable if you have decent lighting.
A little space by a window is ideal. But even then, I recommend some extra lighting for those dark grey winter days that we have in Britain, or if you’ll be ‘arting’ in the evenings.
I have a simple desk light with a daylight bulb in, which I really recommend for the clear, cool light.
It matters where your light source is (window or lamp) – to one side of you or in front of you is best, so that you’re not casting a shadow across your own work.
Put your lamp on your left side if you’re right-handed and to your right if you’re left-handed.
If you’re drawing from life, using the lamp to one side and positioning it so that your subject is also illuminated is far more effective than trying to position it in front of you, so that the front of your subject matter will also be in shadow.
More ideas to consider
There are a few more things, aside from just the time and the space, that will help to make sure that your creative time is productive, relaxing, and enjoyable.
Choose some music to create to – something that you love and that’s relaxing for you.
o It can help you get into a creative frame of mind more quickly if you get started to the same music every time
o The tempo and tone of your music can actually change how you draw! We’ll experiment with this later.
o If you prefer silence, go with that. Quite often I can only create in silence, especially if I feel my mind is a little ‘busy’ still.
Get ready with a mug of your favourite beverage, whether that’s a pot of your favourite coffee with indulgent cream or a mint or fruit tea.
Light a scented candle or burn/diffuse your favourite essential oil (always be flame aware!). Try:
o Lavender or frankincense for a calming and relaxing mood
o Lemon, grapefruit or rosemary for alertness and concentration
o Orange or rose for happiness
o Mint for energy
o Jasmine, rose, eucalyptus or lemon for creativity
It’s important to set the right scene and create the right mood for your creativity. Try to clear your mind and be present in the moment. It’s a great opportunity to be mindful with your senses:
listen to your music
savour your drink
smell your coffee or candles
look at what you’re drawing
stroke your hand over your blank page and experience what your pen or pencil feels like in your hand and how it feels pulled across your paper
Take your time with your drawing and enjoy the process. It’s not a race to get finished and it’s not about the result. Your drawing will either be good or good practice, so you’re always in a win-win situation when you’re drawing.
There’s no need to try too hard. This is the biggest killer of creativity. It’s not a chore or something to get right. That’s not what it’s for. It’s something to enjoy.
Exercise - Plan your Artistic Time
Why is making time to be creative important to you?
Where will your artistic space be?
How and where will you store your art supplies?
What do you need to do to get this space ready?
How often will you spend dedicated creative time?
When will this be – days and times, how long?
Who will be there? Just you or others too? Do you need to check-in with anyone else to cover chores or make sure you get undisturbed time?
What do you need to do or change to make sure you have this creative time?
What music, if any, will you play?
What scents will you enjoy?
What will you drink?
How will you make sure that you come to your art time with a clear and ready mind? A walk beforehand? Journaling?
What do you really need to do to make yourself a little creative time and a little creative space if you needed that in the next five minutes? (It’s not about the music, or the drink, or the candles – so don’t use these as procrastination not to get started. Could you actually start right now?)
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