So far this week, I have shared with you why I started Creative Play™ in the first place and talked about some of the falsehoods around creativity (a.k.a. some of the reasons I was so slow to see the value of play). I hope that I now have you thinking, “Hmm. Maybe I should do something.” Today, I am going to suggest a couple of things that you can do to get started right now:
- Doodle – No matter where you are or what supplies you have on hand, doodling is something that you can do. You only need a scrap of paper and some writing implement. Take 5 minutes, turn away from your screen, and just doodle. Draw lines, draw shapes, make dots, it doesn’t matter. At the end of 5 minutes, see how you feel. A little less tense?
- Color – You may have succumbed to the adult coloring book trend and have one lying around. Even if you haven’t, coloring pages are easy to find online and print (Google Free Coloring Pages). You probably also have some crayons or markers around somewhere to use. If not, the stationery aisle of your local grocery store or pharmacy will have them.
- Make a Flip Book – Did you make flip books as a kid? You draw something on the front page of a stack of sticky notes. On the next page, you draw the same thing, but alter it slightly. You keep doing this, making small alterations to your drawing, and as you flip through the stack of pages, the images look like they are moving. Supplies needed – just a stack of sticky notes and a pen.
- Find Letters – Go for a walk with your camera phone. If it’s possible to walk outside, go out. (Fresh air does wonders.) Look for what’s called “Found Letters.” They are things or pieces of things that look like letters, but aren’t type. For example, the J in the handle of an umbrella or an A in the supports of a sign. (Google Found Letters) Look for your initials and take pictures when you find them.
- Build Something – Using supplies you have on-hand, build something. Create a chain of paperclips or twist them into sculptures. Make a pencil tower. Use colored push pins to fashion a design on your bulletin board or cubicle wall. See what can be done with the change in your pocket.
And of course, #6 Sign up for 30 Days of Creative Play™. No supplies are needed to get started so you can begin today. Use coupon code Play15 for 15% off the class fee until 12/15/17.
Please feel free to share your doodles, paper clip sculptures and other creative play on the Creative Play Date Facebook page. We love to see what you create!
This issue marks the one year anniversary of this newsletter. When I created my communication plan, I was going to use the issue to reflect on the past year and to try and pull together a summary. Instead, I find myself looking forward in this moment and not backward. I have decided recently to develop Creative Play™ into something more than this newsletter and I am excited to tell you about those plans.
I am developing Creative Play™ into a full program of creativity talks, courses, and workshops. I’m sending out proposals for Creative Play™ workshops at conferences, developing class plans for 6-8 week live classes and am about to test run a month-long online workshop. I believe that playing in a variety of art media is the best way to become fearlessly creative again and I’m going to be spending my time sharing that message.
One of the first things I am launching is a “30 Days of Creative Play™” online course. Each day for 30 days (plus one intro day), I will send an exercise for play. Each exercise is meant to be short – 15 to 30 minutes, and will involve a variety of different media. You’ll have an assignment so you won’t have to face a blank page but the only goal will be to play without the pressure to produce something useful. There’s no prep required; the prep work is built into the exercises so you can get started right away. Creative play is a great way to loosen up before you start your studio practice. It is a great way to kickstart your creativity if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut. Creative play is also a wonderful way to find a little joy if you’ve been feeling like something’s missing in your life, but you’re not quite sure what. Be a kid again for 15 minutes a day, every day for a month and reconnect with that joy and creativity you felt so effortlessly when you were young.
If you’re interested in participating in my free trial run of “30 Days of Creative Play™,” you’ll find an exercise each day on the Creative Play Date Facebook page starting tomorrow (July 14th). If you would like to receive each exercise in your email box, email me at julie(at)julieneu.com and I will put you on the mailing list.
We have reached the end of Creative Play Date Week. I’ve probably rambled on about it before, but you may wonder why I think play is so important. I think that as we get older (particularly appropriate that I am typing this on my birthday), the process of “growing up” causes us to take on a lot of baggage from society, parents, teachers, etc. and we get too far away from our innate state of curiosity, of questioning, of experimentation. To create art that really comes from our souls, from the core of who we are, we have to get back to curious, questioning, experimenting beings we were as kids and the way to do that is to play again like kids.
For me, I have to go pretty far back because I stopped playing before I was anywhere near the end of childhood. To make it happen, I have to schedule it and set aside the time, but once I am playing, I can rekindle that spirit of childhood and reconnect with my authentic self. It is when I am playing that ideas for work flow out of me and I get excited about creating. It is when I am playing that I begin to create art that I know comes from deep within my soul, work that is truly and uniquely my own. It is through play that the serious work of being an artist begins.
Today, I made dots. A friend and I have experimented with Creative Play exercises of painted dots. She made some great ones on fabric and turned them into journal covers. I loved what she did so I made some dots of my own on fabric today:
I think that the Universe is contriving to make my Creative Play Date Week both as challenging as possible and as rewarding as possible. It’s challenging because my life this week has been busy. By early afternoon Wednesday, I’d already worked as many consulting hours as I normally do in a week. Plus, I had more family obligations than normal, including an overnight trip to the other end of the state and back. Finding the time for Creative Play this week has been a real challenge and I think that I am supposed to have the experience of having to make the time when life is as busy as it gets.
Maybe because the rest of my life is so busy, I am finding the Creative Play time to be so rewarding. Today, I completely lost myself in painting. I wasn’t using any special materials, just my daughter’s nearly-dried poster paints and cheap brush, but I was getting such pleasure from the process of painting that I lost all track of time. And that does more for my blood pressure than 20 minutes of meditation.
Here’s today’s project. I took the page layout from the June 15, 2017 front page of The New York Times and painted blocks of color. Could be a quilt, don’t you think?
Today’s Creative Play was quick, so quick that I decided to do some doodling after I finished my project for the day and doodled a design that would look nice on a quilt.
For my project today, I pulled out the deck of Creative Strength Training Prompt Cards I just bought from Jane Dunnewold and pulled a card. The action was to use an emotion as inspiration. I have paintings hanging on my studio wall for “love” and “grief” so I chose “anger,” which was why the painting came so fast. Anger was easy for me to tap into this week and the image I wanted to paint came pretty quickly to mind. As you can see, slashing paint onto paper didn’t take that long either. I am happy to report that it was therapeutic.
You read about the day I had on Monday so it won’t surprise you that Tuesday morning I was a little tired sitting down for Creative Play. I didn’t create any masterpieces on Tuesday either, but that’s not really the point.
One of my experiments for this week is to see if 15 minutes of Creative Play at the beginning of studio time can replace Morning Pages as a way to get in the zone. I find my Morning Pages generally involve 3 pages of me whining and complaining and while I think that the premise that I am getting all of that out of my head makes logical sense, in practice, it means that I start my day off discouraged. During Tuesday’s Creative Play, I realized that there really wasn’t a lot going on in my head or if there was, I wasn’t paying any attention to it. So, I guess that’s a good thing. There’s no question that starting my day off with something creative, rather than checking my email or something like that, gets my day off right.
What I did on Tuesday was look through a magazine for a phrase or colors that spoke to me. I found this page that I had already torn out of an Architectural Digest article about Josef Frank. (Home magazines are such a great place for color inspiration.)
Architectural Digest, 2017
And, here’s what I did. This went right into the recycle bin after posting, but like Monday’s coloring book work, it gave me 15 minutes of peace and that’s what really matters.
Day 1 of Creative Play Date Week was an exercise in finding the time and a good reminder of the benefits of just 15 minutes of play.
Monday was busy, really busy. We got our kid off to her first day of camp and then I commuted into Boston for a full day in the office. I raced home, picked my daughter up, did more work while boiling pasta for dinner, got my kid in the tub and ready for bed, then did two more hours of work before I finally crawled in bed myself. Reading that, you may wonder when I did my Creative Play or if I decided that I was just too busy and bailed on it. I seriously considered it. It’s always really easy for me to justify not allowing time for my creativity because I have work to do and the dangerous thing about that is that there is ALWAYS work to do.
But, you may remember me saying that if you have a kid like mine who takes a while to get ready for bed, you can squeeze in 15 minutes there. That’s exactly what I did. I got her in the tub (She is old enough to not drown so I can leave her alone in the bathroom, though I did come back to shut off the water before she started a flood.), then I went into my studio to find something to play with for 15 minutes. I didn’t create amazing art, but I did sit down for 20 minutes of coloring in a coloring book. I know, hardly stretching my creativity, but it calmed my mind for a few minutes, revived me a bit because I was making myself a priority and even 20 minutes of that was invaluable on a frustrating day of doing things for other people. I know that I will have many more days like that so I think that I will leave the coloring book out and keep the markers handy.
Here’s what I did in 20 minutes. It’s from “Big Blossoms Coloring Collection” by Angela Van Dam.
I’ve talked a lot about 15 minutes of play time each day. I even wrote about it in my last newsletter, which was when I realized that I am not practicing what I preach. I’ve been spending a few hours working in my studio each day, but playing? Nope, I’ve just been hard at work on my projects. I’ve decided that I need to do something about that so I am designating the week of June 19th, Creative Play Date WEEK. I’m going to do my 15 minutes of play every day. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you join me, I’d love to hear how it goes for you!
The Creative Play Date last week didn’t happen for me for a variety of reasons, but I rescheduled and am off to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston today for the Matisse in the Studio exhibit.
It’s Creative Play Date Day! How will you spend your play time? We’re expecting snow so I think there’s a good chance I’ll be playing with Popsicle sticks with my kiddo on a snow day, but I’ll keep you posted.