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Twelve Days of Creativity

How to survive the Holidays, keep your artistic flow and feed your creative soul.

I truly hope this message finds you well and enjoying the run up to the Holidays. It can be a frenetic and emotional time that can leave our energy levels low and with little time to feed our creative soul.

Don't get me wrong! I love Christmas, but it can seriously mess with the time we spend on our art! By the time New Years Day arrives I am beyond fidgety to get back in the studio.

So here are twelve bitesize, doable activities that don't require much brain power, peace or quiet! A smorgasbord of little nibbles and treats to pick from, so that each day you can enjoy some creative flow. 🎄

Organise your Camera Roll

Lets start with something dead easy! Spend a few minutes a day to go through your camera roll, clear out the duplicates, fuzzy pics and discover those forgotten gems.

I take thousands of photos in a year, that were absolutely essential at the time, and now they are lost to the camera roll!

So I use a free App to help me clean up my act. It sets little targets and congratulates me on my effort - who doesn't love a 'pat on the back' and a unicorn flying across the screen?!

There are plenty of apps out there, but this one works for me. The whole issue of filing photos is one I have yet to get to grips with .... but this is a start!

Create a Must-See List

Curl up on your sofa and create a must see list of all those places that you want to visit and those that inspire you to return.

I often miss exhibitions I’d have loved to have seen but life gets in the way! So to get ahead I search the interweb and plan my gallery visits as far as I can.

I subscribe to news letters throughout the year and bookmark gallery and museum sites for reference, so there is always an inspiring place to visit.

And if you prefer the comfort of your own home, there's alway the option of a virtual gallery visit?

I also schedule in a few creative outings for the New Year, before the diary gets too squished. It often low key - a walk on the secluded coast, a trip to an historic house or town. I also pencil in (pun intended) 'out and about' sketching days, to create loose, expressive studies to revisit these landscapes in my studio on the darkest and most drab days.

Let me know what interesting exhibitions or places you plan to visit - I love finding new places to mooch round.

Embrace the Season

The Holidays fall in mid winter here in the UK and its taken me a long while, but rather than curse the dark cold days, I now embrace and celebrate the season.

Last year I broke with tradition and left my festive lights up, inside and out until March, creating my own little Winterfest! I hang on to the pine cones and decorative greenery and enjoy the opportunity to hunker down in front of a fire as often as I can. The short days allow us opportunity to sit and contemplate...... and read that pile of glorious art books that gathers dust on the coffee table all year round.

So if the days are short where you are, enjoy them, they will soon be replaced by long busy, life filled days and an enormous list of gardening jobs!

Gather the Outside In

Gathering from hedgerows has long been a Christmas tradition, along with the obligatory and often chaotic family walks. I love the bounteous garlands or blousy wreaths, but easy informal greenery is more my thing.

I have found some amazingly simple and effective creations on Minna Schmidt's instagram feed - who knew chicken wire could be that useful!

Displaying what we love is not just for Christmas though! I love to pull together my finds from beach combing, town and country walks - the weathered wood, rusty nails and other 'odd' treasure, and create little found object assemblages.

This little match box assemblage captures memories of a family holiday and best of all it was created on a campsite with a simple glue stick!.

If you're interested in Found Art, this wonderful film, about the Watts Tower in LA is a great watch. It's thoroughly inspiring to learn how one man's muse led to a movement and wonderful creative neighbourhood.

Collage the Scraps

Few of us will be short of paper scraps and ephemera at Christmas. So I gather up the best in a little basket, along with a pencil, glue stick, scissors and small sketch book at the ready. And while the kettle is on and the mince pies warming, I can rustle up a little collage page, without care or plan.

Quick fire creations can teach us so much when the right side of our brain is really flying and our logical thinking gets out of the way.

Then in January when the sparkly dust has settled, you have a range of eclectic and responsive pieces to explore. Sarah Collages and Evakalien provide some fun inspiration if you're in need of it.

Collect this Year's Wins

The year passes fast and with it the successes we barely remember. One of the most valuable exercises for us all to reflect on the past twelve months and pull out the successes and joys. Using our online and paper diaries, calendars and photos, dust off those memories to recap the year and see how far you've come. Make a list of those wins!

Then in the weeks that follow, I often take most of January, you can plan for the year ahead from what you've learnt from the past.

Enjoy your reflection and bask in your glory! I guarantee you'll surprise yourself.

Make time to Write

I've never really enjoyed the cerebral bit of writing, but I do love my ink pen and the sensation of writing. So I thought I would give creative writing a go and found the process to be wonderfully meditative and insightful.

Beth Kempton is a shining example of a joyful writer and is a generous soul, leading free writing courses, amongst amny other things. If you want to be immersed in prose, poetry and winter calm why not sign up for one of her free writing retreats.

Make Some Collage Papers

It sounds fancy, but trust me it is dead easy and sooo much fun! It requires a little time and space, so you need to escape the mele for an hour or so - don't feel bad, they can all manage with out you!

I use a slightly thicker copy paper and lots of acid free, strong tissue paper, along with inks, acrylic paints and instant coffee - to stain rather than drink! .

I put all my stencils, brayers, stamps, pipets, gelli plate and every mark making tool and media I can manage to get on a tray. Then stamp, mark, stencil, stain and paint, until you run out of space or paper!

The papers need to dry, so if you have a line with pegs to hang them or a drying rack that can help. Easy fun and amazing results that you can then collage!

Check out Laura Horn, Drew Steinbrecher and Susan McCreevy for their free courses and comprehensive instruction and ideas .

Get Crafting

I have been guilty of neglecting my beloved crafts in favour of my art making over the last couple of years. Kantha quilts, rag rugs, half whitled love spoons and crochet ponchos lay incomplete all over the house. But this year I picked up my crochet hook again, not least because my girls have got into it, and I enjoy nothing more an evening or afternoon of chat with the relaxing rhythm of stitching.

If you're an artist this crafting can be your hobby. A time not to think too hard and yet keep that creative urge satisfied . This year I discovered Ravelry, an app with lots of free knitting and crochet patterns, although most of the ideas I get are from YouTube

Doodle in a Sketch Book

I am often impatient to crack on and make art so I can sometimes neglect my sketch book. But sketching lends itself perfectly to the holiday chaos. A few pencils, an ink pen and small sketch book can be tucked away in a corner and while the family decide on what film to watch or squabble over the Quality Street (chocolate sweeties - do they exist out of the UK?), you can just dip into it for a few mins.

Why not make some thumb nail compositions, mark making, or an observation of the festive scene? Pauline Jans has her sketchbook work nailed and I love these whimsical figures drawn with the non dominant hand and from imagination. Of course you could get folding and make your own concertina sketchbook!

When Christmas is over, look back at what you've created and see if there is a line of inquiry to pursue!

Repurpose a Book

I love repurposing old books. Cutting out the inner pages from old charity store books. I then line the inner covers with pretty paper or fabric, using book binder's glue, which is a really thick PVA, which is strong and ph neutral.

I then make the signatures (sections of folded paper) with collage papers and sketch book paper, stitch them to a strip of covered card which I stick on to the inside of the spine.

Its then about personalising the book as you wish. There's loads of great instruction on the net on how to repurpose old books and making new ones.

If you're interested in book making I'd recommend the The Travelling Bookbinder and the fantastic book - The Art of the Fold, by Hedi Kyle, the queen of book making.

And finally, if you're not feeling it, give yourself permission to rest, relax and recharge. We all need a break at times to consider what's next. My Auntie Win used to say that fish and house guests go off after three days! So if the festivities and family become overwhelming you could try a little 'Snow Globe' Meditation.

So there you have it! Twelve simple ways of feeding your creative soul while the world around you spins at pace. You may of course not need this seasonal survival kit but if you do I hope that my Twelve Days of Creativity have inspired your own Advent activity list. Let me know what you get up to, I'd love to hear from you.

So for now a very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and a happy, healthy and creative

New Year.

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