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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

Art In Progress: Be Gentle With Yourself

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

This week I’m highlighting a piece I called ‘Be Gentle With Yourself’.  When I started this one, I wanted to create something with a little bit of a lighter feel because sometimes the colors can get so intense on the canvas when I’m painting!  I wanted to create a background that was a little calmer and more soothing.

Here is the first layer:

Be gentle

I liked where the background was going and decided to place the girl into it right away.  As I was flipping through papers to use, I saw the pattern of her dress and immediately loved it!  I added the ‘belt’ details, complimenting some of the colors of the background to bring it together.

Be gentle

(Sorry this first one is blurry–not sure what happened when I took the picture, but you get the idea.)  She is coming along with her pretty hair and hooded lids…

Be gentle

Be gentle

Next, I added in the sentiment and the two little love birds.  For some reason, birds seem gentle to me–maybe it’s how fragile and small they are?  I was on a walk with Chris not too long ago and there was a finch calmly hanging out on the sidewalk as we strolled by.  I reached down and pet her, then she flew away–that gentleness of her trust stayed with me for days.

Be gentle

In all,  I think I succeeded in keeping this one pretty simple; sometimes it feels good to strip it down to basics.  The calm vibe of this sweet girl (her name is Bella) is just what I was looking for.  You can find her in the shop here!






Art in progress banner


Art In Progress: Be Gentle With Yourself2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

Art in Progress: Bloom

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

I was inspired by a color palate I had seen online and wanted to create something that felt light + hopeful.  I can sometimes get carried away with intense colors and forget to leave light space in for a place for the eye to rest and chill out. (It’s a good metaphor for life, too.)  I gave myself the challenge to stay light with this one and it was a fun task to remember along the way.  The first layer or two was fast + easy and included some tissue paper.

Bloom 1

I added some objects early on, which I don’t normally do because it limits what I end up doing for the final product.  I usually turn the canvas around a lot and try different viewpoints, but when I put an object in, it anchors the piece a specific way.  Oh well!  The colors were calling out for some flowers.

Bloom 2

I couldn’t resist my nagging urge (ha!) to darken it up a little with that purple.  So I added in a little white stencil on the side to balance it out and added more light objects in the bottom left corner.  I’m starting to like it at this point because it feels light, but like my individual style, too. (I feel like I’m always finding my style and changing it up.)

Bloom 3

Here’s a close up of that bottom corner before the purple, I love the colors together!

Bloom 4

And the flowers.

Bloom 5

I added a few more small accents and I’m done.  That space in the middle bothered me at first, but then I remembered my challenge was to stay light and there it was!  It was a perfect place for my sentiment–we all need space to BLOOM.


Prints available in the shop!





Art in Progress: Bloom2018-03-29T20:23:14-04:00

Art In Progress: Take It Slow

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

This piece, “Take It Slow” actually started by me throwing some leftover color from my art class palette on a canvas.  I hate wasting paint so sometimes I just start a new canvas quickly at the end of class to use it up.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I liked these colors together this time.

After I put the color on, I used matte medium to ‘glue’ the collage piece at the bottom.  I started loosely sketching the face out, too.  Suprisingly to me, this was all done in the first session; It reminds me that sometimes working quickly works out better and not to do too much deep thinking, just let the paint speak through the painting….

Take it slow 1

Here is a peek at some other pieces I was working on at the same time.  I try to keep a few in rotation so if I’m waiting for one to dry a little, I can work on another one.  Momentum is my friend 🙂

Take it slow 2

This next phase shows a little more color, some stamping and a sketch of her face.  I added some objects in to inspire the eye to move around the painting.  I love these colors together!

Take it slow 3

Up next: the eyes shine through.  There’s always something magnetic to me when the eyes surface–almost like she comes alive!  So to bring her more to life, I added a little collage piece in the upper right, a flower in her hair and a collar.

Take it slow 4

Stamping in the sentiment gets me so excited–it’s a finishing touch that brings me a lot of joy.

Take it slow Final

This sweet girl is one of my favorites lately, not only for the color scheme, but for the reminder.  You love her too? A print of her is available in my shop.

Be gentle–It’s always good to take it slow.





Art In Progress: Take It Slow2018-03-29T20:23:15-04:00

Art In Progress: Be Kind To Yourself

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

This piece is my recent favorite.  I think because I experimented with some different color combinations and in the end it came out quite different than when I started.  I didn’t totally love it and then…wham!  It worked out.  That’s always a good feeling.

Here’s the first pass through–just a simple throw on of some paint.  I just try to get the brush moving and forget about expectations; letting go is so important in this first phase.  I try to follow the flow and have fun.

Be Kind To Yourself 1

I had sketched out a few objects that kind of called to me in the moment–a lotus-type flower, a feather and wheel-like objects.  Can you see them?  I’m not sure where the inspiration came from for those particular things, I just try to go with what feels good.  It’s like my subconscious is talking to me through my brush.

Be Kind To Yourself 2

As I keep layering colors, it warms up the original palette.  It’s a good reminder that things evolve and change as we go.

Be Kind To Yourself 3

The girl was added during this next phase.  I was trying to resist the urge to overdo the background with colors, so I forced myself to stop; I wanted to focus more on the feel and warmth of the piece.

Be Kind To Yourself 5

As you can see, I changed her dress a little.  Hello collage!  I didn’t love the sash, so I tried something else.  I’m always open to changing + moving + switching it up so that I don’t get too rigid in my ways.    It’s easy to get attached early in the process, but I find when I do that, it jams me up creatively.

The softness of her eyes inspired the sentiment for me.  I just think it’s so important to be reminded: we all need to be kind, especially to ourselves.

Be Kind To Yourself 6

I added in some accents: feathers in her hair, flowers and a little stamping.

Be Kind To Yourself 7

I love how she turned out! I may add some small collage pieces around the border and accents to her hair, but I’m going to live with it like this for a bit.  In the meantime, I’m going to hang her up and listen to her sweet wisdom.

Prints now available in the shop.


Art In Progress: Be Kind To Yourself2018-03-29T20:23:15-04:00

Art In Progress: Circus

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

This one kind of went fast–I apologize for not starting my documentation sooner along the way, the first layer happened in such a flash!  This piece felt very playful from the beginning; I’m not sure if it was the colors or the fun patterns of the collage, but it had a very light feel to it all the way through.  I think that’s what inspired the frilly loops in the middle.

circus 1

I added some darker areas around the edges and defined the objects a little more.  I like how the contrast between the dark and the light added some depth to the whole thing–it can feel risky to lay down really dark colors over really light, but it’s important to take risks and try things out.  Just like life, yes?

circus 2

Then to give it a little bit of a different perspective, I flipped the canvas.  It really helps me to do this as I go through the stages because it offers a different view–sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t! Ha.  But it’s good to keep things moving and not to get too attached throughout the process.  Otherwise it doesn’t evolve how it should (naturally, without resistance).

circus 3

Although it’s temporarily finished, I may use this as a background for something else.  There’s always an opportunity to show it in a different light…


P.S. As a bonus this week, I’m participating in a giveaway where you can win $100 to Anthropologie and $80 to Amazon. WOOHOO! This giveaway is open internationally, so anyone is welcome to participate.

Just enter through the Rafflecopter widget below and if you have a minute, check some of the lovely blogs and say hey.


The Wellness Doer | Break the Sky | Kitty & Buck

Rainstorms and Love Notes | Jade and Oak | Beauty in Your Eyes | The Vibrant Living Project

The Alisha Nicole | A Harvest of Blessing | Sea Salt and Caramel | The Nectar Collective

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Art In Progress: Circus2018-03-29T20:23:16-04:00
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