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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: You Were Born With Wings

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 turned out a lot different than it started.  And that’s true with a lot of things in life, yes?  We have a certain idea as to where we want to end up, and the twists and turns of life lead us off into a new direction.  Something I’ve learned from painting is to just go with the flow.  Some of the best ‘mistakes’ I’ve made have led me to a place of true happiness and fulfillment.

So I started this one with just throwing some color on the canvas.  There’s something I love about orange and hot pink together–the vibrancy of the colors get my heart racing.  I used a brayer for the dot-looking things and I used a toothy-comb thing to create the lines.




I wanted to add some contrast, so in went the drips, some teal stamping and little black around the edges.


Birdie 2


At this point I realized a grid was appearing so I softened it up with a little white and light blue.  It’s all about the feeling I get when I look at it–if it seems too harsh, I soften it up. If everything is blending, I try to create some contrast to make it more interesting.  It’s all about finding the right balance.


Birdie 3


I collaged in the bird and some accents.  (I really love collage, it feels like I’m adding a whole other dimension.)


Birdie 4


And then I stamped in the sentiment.  I love the idea that we’re all born with our own special talents that can take us wherever we want to go; it’s all about following your heart and listening to those calls.  We were meant to fly.


You were born with wings FINAL


I’m done with it for now, but may add some doodling adornments in a bit, I want to sit with it for a while.


Art in Progress: You Were Born With Wings2018-03-29T20:23:18-04:00
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