Methods to "Rein in" Creative Minds

  • I've been MIA from this group for a little while, because, well.... I've done it again.

    Does anyone else have this issue:
    You start something new, say.. realistic acrylic painting. It's fun! You improve, but then...
    You start children's book illustrating. It's fun! You improve, but then...
    You start stop-motion animations! It's so fun. You improve, but then...
    You start watercolor painting... I think you get the idea.

    This is my life!

    Does anyone else have this issue, and what tangible methods do you use to rein yourself in? Do I make mood boards, set goals and write them down? Invest in a dry erase board?

    I want to pursue a creative career, but I am all over the place. I enjoy so many things, but I want to choose a tangible skill to pursue.

  • @Kaela-McCoy I don't seem to have this problem. Probably because I have many, many others. 😆 It sounds to me like you need a bigger project so that you will find a way to organize your skill-building activities. What's the biggest creative project you've ever tackled?

    If you decide to stick with a project until it's complete, you'll have to figure out each step. There was an older podcast episode called Ship It, i think. Basically, it's the thinking behind it that is different and you need to figure out what you want to do. If you're all about trying new things your method isn't actually a problem. Gaining new skills and trying out new materials aren't an end in themselves, they will always be what we do. If you want to level up creatively, though, you have to finish something you didn't think you could finish. They said that was the difference with all of the pros they knew - they all finished things.

    Also somewhere in the earlier podcast episodes (I wish I knew which one it was) was Lee White's idea about setting up one of his classes so that a student could only move on to the next thing when they had mastered the current level. I think the grades were the same, but you had to earn an A before you did the next assignment. I do try to think of this too, but obviously this is a bit hard to enforce on myself when I can't always know when I've mastered something.

    Edited to add: i'm adding these thoughts because I'm also trying to finish things. It probably looks different for each artist. I tend not to experiment with materials as much as start projects without finishing.

  • Pro

    @Kaela-McCoy This was exactly me a few years ago haha! This isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you're still in the middle of your development as an artist, experimenting and trying out many different things is how you're going to find out what you like doing the best, and your strengths and weaknesses. I must have tried every media that exists out there, but eventually I focused on my two favourites, digital and watercolor. I even use some watercolor textures in my digital work, which is a defining trait of my signature style. I would never have been able to develop this if I hadn't tried so many different things. And I didn't start zero-ing on children illustration until I was already out of college and working at a studio. So experiment away, but do it with purpose 🙂 Figure out what you like best, the pros and cons of each technique, and if you can see yourself doing this for many years. It's great to focus on a single media to pursue in order to be able to achieve a high level of skill, however you can't really pick one at random without trying it first. Also remember not to stress yourself out over the decision. It's not like after you choose you'll be stuck doing this for the rest of your life! You're allowed to change your mind and pursue new things down the road 🙂

  • @Kaela-McCoy Hi! I have had that same problem all my life, trying to squish all these awesome creative pursuits in amongst working, raising a family, parent care, etc. I have recently retired and I thought I would be full steam ahead on children’s illustration. Instead I’ve put that on hold to try a couple of other things. sigh. But this time I went in with intentions beyond just trying something new. I did a short stop motion animation course with the idea of working on storytelling. It gave me confidence as I was able to build a little story with just a shape and an action verb. I also adored using that medium. Because I love nature and want to work that into my art somehow, I took another short course on making natural inks plus portraiture. I was curious if I could pull this into a direction with children. I thought I would love both but I don’t. I like them and I am intrigued by the idea of them, but they don’t grab me the same way I get hooked when pictures and storytelling are involved. But I am focusing on what I am learning by making reflection notes after every lesson, writing down what I learned, what I liked, what I didn’t like, how it made me feel. I have only done this for these two courses and already I feel I have gained more than if I did the courses for fun and just to see if I liked the medium, and moved on to the next thing.

    What I have learned from listening to 3 Point Perspective podcasts, is to spend time thinking about what you are doing, what you want to do, where you want to go - do you exploring with intention and attention. Then beside having the fun of trying something new, you can use it as another stepping stone to achieve your goals and passions, whether it is something you use, or helps your know what you don’t like.

    Another thing I do is always finish. I try not to turn the page without completing it. I may not like it during the process, but often it turns out not bad or at least I have learned something. I have to admit though, that since I retired, I have gone back and finished several projects that I had started years ago. It feels good and I wished I had pushed myself more to finish, although sometimes life gets in the way and that is not possible. And certain projects no longer hold the appeal they once had so I have let them go.

    I guess all this rambling on is a long-winded way of saying the same thing as @NessIllustration - try lots of things and explore but maybe by doing it with intention and reflection, it will help to get you to where you want to go. 😀

  • Oh I sure do have this problem. A few years ago I started an oil painting class. My instructor told me to go sit in a dark room and think about my goals. Once I took that seriousley it really helped. I left myself room to play and experiment, but if something didn't fit into my ultimate goal, I couldn't do it. Lee White also did a podcast or video on this subject, which was really helpful too. It was something like 7 steps to setting your goals.

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