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The Creative Process: What Works For Me

Want a peek into the creative process I use? Click through to read more--It may help you discover your own.

Does the creative process elude you?  I remember when I started taking my painting class, my teacher spoke about his creative process and how it was an integral part of producing actual work.  Because let’s face it, even when you have the time to sit and get to work, the inspiration isn’t always there.  This is where the creative process can jump start things!  Most days I have to refer to a few tricks to make the most of my time when I’m trying to get in the zone.

It wasn’t so obvious to me what my process was in the beginning, though. I had to almost step back and watch what I did as I did it, to figure out how I created my own inspiring environment.

So if you’re not sure of your own creative ways, don’t worry!  I have a few tips to help you figure it out.  The main idea is to focus on the 5 senses: it will help you be really present in the moment and ready to embrace whatever comes up.

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Here is a peek into my creative process and how I use each of the senses:

Sight: I like to be in an environment with visual stimulation to keep the juices flowing.  This can be sketchbooks I keep open to look at now and again for ideas, previous paintings on the wall or some other artist’s work in Instagram that gives me some ideas to adapt into my own. I usually paint in my studio (which is also a spare bedroom right now) so I like to have a lot of color around me to keep me loose and brave.

Hearing: Music playing helps me get out of my own way. I heard once that when you play music while you are creating, it turns off that left brain so that the ideas flow easier.  That makes so much sense, right? The inner critic is silenced a little easier.

Taste: A drink and a little snack nearby helps me keep going so I’m not interrupted!  I love my snacks 🙂  And no one likes to stop the flow in the middle of a good idea.

Touch: I love to keep my supplies within arm’s reach so I can experiment with different markings and materials.  If I don’t have to dig through clutter or an overwhelming amount of supplies. I create more easily.  (That’s probably true for most of us.)  I have standby favorite supplies. but I also like to keep unlikely tools around to mix things up. (spray bottle, bubble wrap, baby wipes etc)

Smell: I once saw a video of  Flora Bowley where she prepped her canvas with a smudging stick.  She said the smell of the smoke and the energetic clearing of the space helped her get focused.  I love this!  I tend to use a candle, but it has the same effect. Smells can bring up a lot of memories, so I make sure the scent is one I love and has a good association.

Another part of my process includes wearing clothes that are comfortable and messy–ones that I don’t worry about getting paint on.  I also allow a little time before I create something to think about the inspiration behind my session.  Whether it was a song or a poem or a color in nature that I saw that day, I try to hone in on what brought me to my table to create.  Knowing the ‘why’ makes it easier to break through when I hit a block.

I hope this inspires you if you need help figuring out the creative process; using the senses is a great way to start and you can expand on it from there.  Just keep in mind, it’s a fluid practice and it’s always changing!  Go with what moves you forward at the moment and enjoy whatever shows up.

Love, Steph


The Creative Process: What Works For Me2018-03-29T20:23:05-04:00

How I Incorporate Creativity Into Everyday Life

Click through to learn how I keep my creative energy flowing each day. Maybe these will help your creative mojo , too!

I feel like I’m starting to make a comeback. When I had my sweet boy Marty a little over a year ago, my creative projects came to a screeching halt–my blog went unwritten, canvases were dry and emails went unanswered. I went into hibernation because I was alllll baby alllll the time, for a long time (being a first time mom,and all).

Although I was frustrated at some points because I just wanted to get back to creating stuff, I knew that I  needed that time to focus on other things.  And in a way it was a gift: coming out of any kind of hibernation is wonderful because you see with new eyes. That hiatus from creating was rejuvenating because it built up a yearning for me to get back to it. I can feel that urgency to create again and I’m excited.

But as I get back into the flow, I realize that I need to be flexible with how I’m expressing my creativity due to time+ life constraints.  It’s just not realistic for me to say I’m going to paint for 2 hours everyday–I don’t have the time or attention span (or cooperative baby!)  I’m a different person than I was, and my art is changing with me.

So I’m practicing new ways to be creative, and some of it isn’t painting either.  It’s ways to incorporate creativity into everyday life to keep that energy flowing.  Maybe you can try a few of these practices in your day, too:

Try a new medium

I moved from canvas to paper.  It’s a lot more portable and more forgiving too!  I can experiment easier and not worry about messing things up.  Also, it’s easy to pull it out really quick with minimum set-up.   Right now I’m using the Canson Mixed Media Pad (11×14) and I love it.  I’m also having a lot of fun playing on Canva (so much that I created a course on it!)  I create all of my blog images and online profile + post pictures there.

Use different supplies

I’m still using acrylics, but I’m using a lot more paint pens and these watercolor crayons.  The flexibility of these supplies is inspiring!  And it’s challenging to incorporate my usual style with new tools (which is good for me).

Dress with intention

Whenever I go out, I try to put on clothes that I love and that make me feel good.  I’ve been purging a lot of old outfits to make room for more ease.  Lord knows I wear the a lot of the same pieces over and over, but at least I really love them.  And at least I’m not bogged down with the clutter.

Take more pictures

I have a Samsung Galaxy phone and love to take pictures with it because the camera is awesome!  Not only can I use the images for blog post background images, but it creates a photo memory of my days and it’s fun to look back and see what interesting views I’ve captured.

Write Down Thoughts As They Come Up

My memory is short these days so when I think of a clever idea I have to write it down immediately.  And even when it’s not so clever, but I feel like there’s something more to explore, I write that down, too.  It’s along the lines of, “entertaining the muse when she shows up” and not judging my ideas right away.   Otherwise if I don’t write things down,  it escapes into the air never to be remembered again 🙂  These days, I’m loving google keep for this.

Look at art videos

I love looking at Flora’s work, I could watch her all day!  And she always gives me new ideas when I watch her paint.  I also love the artist video posts on Stampington, especially the ones about new supplies.  Painting videos really spark my creativity when I’m feeling a lull.

Connect online

I have a private Facebook Group and the sole intention of it is to create a space to share our creative projects.  It’s fun and low pressure to be a part of and gives just the right amount of inspiration and support.  I love popping in to see what everyone has been up to!  The community is growing, want to join?

So those are just a few ways I keep my creativity flowing everyday. I try to change it up/add new things periodically to keep it fresh and fun. Do you have a daily practice that keeps your creativity flowing?  Come over to the group and tell us about it.

Love, Steph

How I Incorporate Creativity Into Everyday Life2018-03-29T20:23:05-04:00

5 Organization Ideas That Boost My Creativity

5 Organization Ideas That Boost My Creativity

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I have a few organization ideas up my sleeve that I use in order to get my creativity flowing.  Because although I like to think I can just sit down at any  moment and churn out some awesome creative pieces, there’s usually a few steps I have to take to get to that point; I’m guessing you’re the same way. #amiright?

And I don’t know about you, but life often has a tendency to interrupt me juuuuust when I’m getting into a flow of creativity.  It can be really hard to pick up where I left off, so I use a few jedi mind tricks to keep my productivity + creativity flowing.

Make space to create:

I try to consistently set aside time when I know I can create (9am/3 days a week for at least 30 minutes).  It seems so simple, right?  Since I have a baby under 1, those times are often interrupted or eliminated, but it helps to know that I am at least trying and that I have the time set aside just for my creative whims.  He won’t be a baby forever and I want to try to stick to the habit of consistently showing up for the work–I know if I can get my body there, my mind will follow.  And if I’m organized about it, I get even better results.

Get prepared:

I keep supplies easily accessible so that I can take advantage of a free 20 minute block.  I recently bought mini versions of a few of my most used supplies and store them in a totebag, so I can take it anywhere.

The supplies include:

  • A multi-media sketch pad
  • small box of favorite markers, pens and a few paint brushes
  • a small water palette
  • wax crayons (I can use them for heavy vibrant marks or create a watercolor effect from them)
  • gel medium
  • scraps of paper for collage

5 Organization Ideas That Help Me Be More Creative

This way I can create very easily without setting up a lot of stuff.  It has taken the pressure off of needing to only create in my studio because in the past, that’s where all of the supplies were.

Capture images as I go:

I try to take a lot of pictures and document what I do so I can use the images as backgrounds for social media graphics or add to posts later (especially when it’s an art in progress post!)

I try to take photos of everyday life that I know would make a nice background for my blog posts or social media graphics, too.   And the simpler the better–it doesn’t have to be a fancy picture, just something easy on the eyes and in focus always works great.  And don’t worry about needing some fancy equipment.  I take the pictures with my phone!  Most phones have a pretty amazing camera these days so I just use a lot of natural light and get snapping.

Simplify with batching (best organization idea hack):

I try to batch create when at all possible.  If I’m creating a graphic for a social media post or a blog post, I try to create a few at a time, even if it means I’m not going to use them right away.  I have a file folder in my dropbox (more on that below) that is literally labeled “not used yet” and it’s where I keep some images and graphics for future use.  It’s a total time saver!

“I love wasting time,” said no one, ever.

I create paintings in batches as well.  When I’m working on a piece, I usually have a few in rotation that I can go to when one is drying, that way I’m always working on something.  It not only helps keep the creative flow going, but I’m getting a lot done rather than sitting and watching paint dry (literally.)

Store images in a cloud:

Dropbox is my best friend.  There is a free version, but I pay for the monthly version because it gives me a lot more space.  I can access that sweet drive from anywhere!  Not only do I have it on my laptop, but I have it on my phone and I can immediately upload the pictures I take.  It makes creating social media graphics sooooo easy and fast.  Organizing everything into folders also helps keep everything in order and makes the images simple to use.

I don’t assume I’ll remember:

Here’s a simple but powerful organization idea: I try to write any good ideas down when they come up.  Not only do I have an app that will capture inspiration when it strikes (Hello my love, Google Keep) but I also carry around a small moleskine in my purse to make notes or sketches when they pop into my head.  It’s nothing fancy, it’s just to jot things down because sometimes the perfect idea comes to me when I’m in the shower.  You too? 🙂

Hope these ideas are helpful to you–here’s to being more creative!

Love, Steph


5 Organization Ideas That Boost My Creativity2018-03-29T20:23:06-04:00

5 Social Media Graphic Elements That Will Attract Your Creative Tribe

Click through to learn the 5 Social Media Graphic Elements

Click through to learn the 5 Social Media Graphic Elements

I love creating graphics but doing this might feel like learning a new language for you. I totally get it!

I want to help you out with a few design hacks that can make creating these little artsy graphics easier.  So whether you make the designs for fun for your social media profiles or for promoting your blog/artwork, you’ll feel good about what you’re putting out there.  It’s not as hard as it might seem, so let’s get to it!

Simplify the text you use.

Remember the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”?

Well friend, let that be your mantra when you’re deciding what to say in your visual.  There’s nothing worse than a cluttered graphic that you can’t read!  And besides, you don’t need to tell your viewer everything in the graphic, it’s just to whet their appetite.

Best practice is to use text that contrasts with the background (and not a lot of it): use light text on dark backgrounds or dark text on light backgrounds.  If you stick to the title, it will make your reader curious for more and hopefully they will click through.


Click through to get access to my free library of helpful tools, including this worksheet on how to create a good graphic!

Use pictures to tell your story.

How to add an isolation coat to your mixed media painting. Use this technique to protect your artwork!There are so many ways to say something, especially with graphic images.  Use your imagination and create different ways to send your message!

Experiment with quote visuals (overlaying a quote on a background of your own art or a picture you took) or flatlay pictures of items that link to your message.

Do whatever feels fun and right to you–if you put your heart into the message others will feel that and will want to share it. That’s how you create fans. 🙂


Keep the message clear.

We're all tender, be kind. Click through for 3 easy ways to get into the kindness mindset.

Don’t you hate when you get overwhelmed on a blog post from too much information and just click off? Yeah, me too.

Don’t bombard your audience with a lot of thoughts or actions–stick to one simple principle and it will be much more memorable.   And if you’re not sure what you want to say, here are 3 easy options to use that will get people thinking about you without scaring them away:

-Offer a solution to a problem

-Show them how to do something

-Tell a relateable story


Show them who you are.

My defunct studio

A picture of my defunct studio that I shared on my blog.

Don’t be afraid to get personal!  Everyone loves a peek behind the scenes to get to know the ‘real’ you.  Show them your funny/silly/weird side and they will love you even more.  Let that freak flag fly, girl!

Are you an artist?  Show a picture of a work in progress or of your messy studio.  Are you a designer?  Show them how you come up with your ideas before they look perfectly staged.

Everyone is a secret hot mess inside!  If you show your audience a little of that messy side, they will relate to you even more.

Be Consistent.

If you want to attract people to your home online, create a style that they can recognize.  The best way to go about this is to pick 4 or 5 colors and 2 or 3 fonts, and use them consistently in your graphics.  If you scroll through pinterest, you will recognize people just based on the images they post– they usually have a similar style with variations in color and information.  Their consistent branding method is a great way to get recognized!

Click through to get access to my free library of helpful tools, including this worksheet on how to create a good graphic!Love, Steph



5 Social Media Graphic Elements That Will Attract Your Creative Tribe2018-03-29T20:23:06-04:00

On Creativity: The Ebb + Flow

The Ebb + Flow of creativity can be frustrating. Click through to see the ways I'm finding my way back to the flow!

It’s been a while since I’ve created in my usual way (painting, collaging + writing) and it feels kind of strange to have been away from it for so long.  I miss my quiet time in front of the canvas but these days of diapers and trying to catch up on sleep, I can’t seem to figure out how to get back there.  I used to take a painting class once a week, I painted in my studio at least one day a week and I wrote regular blog posts to spark ideas, too.  I miss it terribly!

I remind myself that I can still follow my artistic whims, I just need to figure out how and when.  I may not have a block of 2 hours to paint, but I can grab 10 minutes to draw something or connect online.  I have to remind myself that I’m creating a new normal now–I need to be more gentle with myself as I figure out exactly what that is.  I really just enjoy exploring the idea of creativity as a whole and can use that as my guide.  

But what happens when life changes and you no longer have the same amount of time to do what you always did to create?

It’s the ebb and flow that happens with any kind of major change (and little changes, too).  I’ve been here before and found my way back, I know I can do it again.  When I resurface, the starting over point is usually to check in with myself and explore just how things have changed.

I’m still an artist, but I’m different.

Even my space to create is different.  My studio is no longer mine and it’s a disaster, so that doesn’t make it quite so easy to bounce back to painting!  I had to pack everything up and shove it in the corner to make room for the bed we had to move out of the new nursery.  Needless to say, it’s not a very inspiring place at the moment:

Disaster studio


But I know it’s not forever.  See those shelves leaning against the table?  That’s my starting point to get back to creating.  Once I put them up, I’ll be able to move my supplies up on them and be able to make room for more organizing!  One step at a time…

Here are a few others ways I’m trying to get back on track:

  • Regularly check in with fellow artists, even if it’s just to see what they’re up to on Facebook.  Inspiration comes at the most surprising moments, doesn’t it?
  • Stand in my defunct studio to see where I can begin to reassemble it (see picture)
  • Make a simple sketch in my sketch book when I have 5 minutes of quiet.
  • Connect with you on my blog again (aha!)
  • Walk through the paint aisle at AC Moore and check out the new products.
  • Write down ideas for future paintings in my phone.  A lot of times this happens in the middle of the night while I’m nursing Marty.
  • Remember to take it one day at a time–the fever to create will come back.

If anything, this time has been amazingly affirmative.  It reminds me why I love to create (to have some type of expression + connect with others) and that it’s not going anywhere, no matter how long the break is.

Love, Steph

P.S. Want to share your own creative journey?  In honor of connecting again, I created a Facebook Group for creatives so that we may encourage each other when the ebb + flow happens.  It’s a very new group, I’d love if you joined conversation.  All you do is put in your details and then request to join the group on Facebook.  I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

On Creativity: The Ebb + Flow2018-03-29T20:23:06-04:00

Do You Love Instagram too? Take a peek at my Instagram life.

I love sharing everyday tidbits about what I'm up to over on Instagram! Follow along with me: @stephaniemartel

Lately I’ve been playing more on Instagram and I really love the simplicity of it!  It’s a micro-blogging platform that takes the pressure off of having to post something huge + meaningful, but rather I can post little snippets of my day.  And isn’t that a little more interesting for everyone?  I feel like the beauty of everyday life is in the small details, not the lightning bolts that happen once in a while.

I’m posting a few of the latest happenings over there, here on the blog so you can check it out.  If you are inspired, please follow me!  My instagram is: @stephaniemartel.  Let’s be friends 🙂

A snippet of my painting, you are my very favorite

Here’s a peek of something I’m putting in the shop soon. Who is your very favorite?  Tell them today.

Working on a small canvas is harder than it looks!

Playing on a small canvas is a lot harder than it looks! It’s good practice to get into the details though.

In class progress, before and after shots of the same painting

I love how every painting goes through phases. Acrylic paint is so forgiving, there’s always the option to cover up what I don’t like! This one is still in progress, but I like where it’s going.

Flower doodle practice, which is your favorite?

My morning doodles… Still working on flowers. ???????????? Sometimes I like them better plain and not colored in. Which one is your favorite?

New postcards in the shop

These new 4×6 postcards are going into the shop tomorrow.  They are made from heavy 16pt stock with a matte finish and rounded corners (love that). Use for a special little note to someone or frame as a sweet gift to yourself!

Getting ready for an art fair and getting the 8x10 prints ready for sale.

I’m getting my inventory ready for a craft show next weekend! ???? It’s fun to talk to others about how we all have so many different ways to express ourselves through art. I’m looking forward to connecting with people in person about living a creative life.






Do You Love Instagram too? Take a peek at my Instagram life.2018-03-29T20:23:07-04:00
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