Writers, artists, teachers, kids, parents, cooks, musicians, EVERYBODY…this column is for you. We are all creative, whether you think you are or not!
Challenge: (n) a stimulating task or problem
I’ve been following friends in the midst of creativity challenges on social media this past year. Some lasted a few weeks, while others 100 days or more. One such lengthy challenge was that of Mara Strayer, a Chatham County welding artist (@sparkworkstudio), who created and posted her circular welded steel ornaments every day for 100 days. Another, Cate McCleery, an artist in Columbus, Ohio (@lets_make_a_ruckus), created one embroidered fabric piece each day for her 100-day challenge. And a childhood friend, Pamela Robinson Thompson of Plano, TX (@focusonyoursuccessllc), just finished her 30 days of creating illustrated portraits.
Inspired by these women, this winter I jumped into a new challenge with Mara Strayer — 45 days of creating every day to ease us into the first day of spring. We called it our #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge (which you can view on Instagram, along with all of the abovementioned works.) Posting one’s daily process can be a daunting task, and I agree with Pamela Thompson as she described her portrait challenge: “I had some self-talk at first: ‘Who are you kidding?’ But I also thought, ‘What do I have to lose? Nothing!’” And like Pam, “I jumped in, and while much of it was absolutely super challenging…I got better at it all. It helped me to have more fun and confidence with my artwork.”
More fun and confidence… Something we can all use!
Challenge Your Creativity
Timeframe: You set the parameters. Maybe you’ll decide on creating daily for a week or 100 days or more! Perhaps you’ll choose to do something each week for a month or more. It’s totally up to you.
To begin, Mara and I decided to create art toward a goal: the first day of spring. For our challenge, we kept it very open with one caveat: we must visually post our creative process/progress each day on Instagram.
In Mara’s case, she worked for 45 days on designing and welding a sculptural dogwood bench. Watching this take shape through her her piece-by-piece daily progress reports
was an incredible experience. While this one large project worked well for Mara, I decided to go with the flow with wherever my daily creativity guided me. At the end of the 45 days, I had created three new spring-inspired illustrations, two woven bags, a painted collage and a five-part watercolor series inspired by poetry I’d written over 20 years ago.
My advice to anyone setting off on such a challenge: Try to keep the essence of it about the journey of creating…about the process. Make time every day to be inspired and contemplative about the creative process.
Consider first: What will you create? One final project? A daily sketch, poem, photo, journal entry, fabric piece… The ideas are endless. Maybe you’ll just make sure to find time daily to tap into your creative core. Then choose a platform on which to report your progress: Instagram? Twitter? Facebook? A text message/photo with your fellow challengers?
Whether you spend 5 minutes or a better part of a day really doesn’t matter. The whole purpose is to be mindful of your inspirations, creativity, process and progress. And as my friend Pam mentioned, have fun and notice the confidence you’re gaining.
Whatever your challenge, be sure to tag me (@wildesart). I’ll look forward to being inspired by you!
Not-To-Miss Creative Events: Two exciting shows at:
NC Arts Incubator
223 N. Chatham Ave., Siler City – 919-663-1335
No charge – open most weekdays
Now through May 16: Oil paintings by Sanford artist Kara McSpadden
May 19-June 13: Alcohol ink and resin creations by Jeanne Rhea
Share your ideas, questions, or comments by contacting me at Barbara@WildesArt.com. Is there a creative event happening? Let me know — I’d love to hear from you!
Barbara Hengstenberg is an artist, writer, educator,and founder of www.WildesArt.com, an online community of creatives. Barbara lives in Pittsboro, and sells her Zen folkart and offers tips on creativity through her website. She serves on the Board of the NC Arts Incubator. You can reach Barbara at Barbara@WildesArt.com
Awesome article! Thank you for sharing it. I believe challenging oneself is the best way to improve skills in any area- even if you share your progress with only one person who holds you accountable to stick with your commitment.