Welcome to my blog series “From the inbox” where we tackle those mindsets and
issues that hold us back and keep us from living creatively. Enjoy!
“Do you have any suggestions or practices
on how I can find my unique, visual voice?”
Hello dear friend,
In thinking through your question, I came up with an acronym INSPIRE to give you 7 strategies to help you find your “unique, visual voice” as an artist. I hope one or more of these practices will help in your quest to find the unique, creative voice that is waiting below the surface to emerge.
#1: I = Initiate & Increase
In the quest to find your creative voice, you may want to INITIATE a plan to INCREASE your creative output. We can’t expect our voice to emerge out of nowhere. We must schedule time and space to devote ourselves to our creative pursuits. Because there’s always competition for our energies – dishes and laundry need to be done, our kid needs a hug, our dog needs a walk, bills to pay – we need to initiate a plan to increase our creative energies. Carve out a space and time to focus on our creative voice is an important step to helping that voice emerge.
Create game plan for yourself. If you are busy, simply start with a few minutes a day. Find a time where real world distractions can’t pull you in. For me, my creativity is most juicy in the early morning hours, before sunrise and before breakfast. Initiating a plan will help you increase your creative productivity and lead you to finding and nourishing your creative voice.
#2: N = Nurture & Nourish
The mystics say “be still” and you will know yourself. Many spiritual and mindfulness practices passed down through the ages help NURTURE and NOURISH our creative energies, as well as our spirit. Regular practices such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga help move energies and create flow. I know it sounds quite esoteric, but there’s something to be said for getting to know ourselves through the quieting of our minds. Nurturing our hearts through spiritual practice, helps us cut away the stress and focus on our creativity.
Journaling, drawing, painting, writing, dancing, and playing an instrument can be incorporated into the spiritual practice. In my “Painting Through the Chakra” class – I incorporate mindfulness and meditative breathing practices as I teach my students to paint the colors and symbols associated with the yogic chakra centers. While in the class, we listen to quiet meditative music. The peacefulness we feel allows our creative energies to flow while we create.
You can use the creative mediums that speak to you to nourish a peaceful and creative mind. Cutting through the noise and distractions of your messy mind, you get to know yourself – the true self – the creative self.
#3: S = Seek Out & Start Conversations
SEEK OUT kindred spirits and like-minded artists. Don’t underestimate the power of conversation partners to the creative process. We may all be stuck inside our homes these days of Covid-19, but there are several places where we can find conversation partners. Seek them out. Make friends. START a conversation or create a book club around books about creativity and art.
This past summer, I was reading the work of Brené Brown and joined a forum of fans on Facebook. On a whim I posted “I’m looking to read/study Brené’s book Braving the Wilderness. Anyone want to join me for a book club?” I got over 30 responses and out of that initial connection, three “strangers” met me through Zoom for two months. We read the book together and became friends. While our conversations didn’t focus on art and creativity, I did take a chance and reached out to people I didn’t know, began a conversation, and made friends.
Be open and willing to talk about creativity and art with those you know and meet. Your passion will be contagious, and you will find creative, artistic people willing to talk about their habits, their aspirations, their methods and techniques. Cultivating creative friendships helps you to articulate and practice showing people your unique, creative voice.
#4: P = Play & Ponder
When you carve out time for your creativity, don’t be afraid to simply PLAY. I like to pour my paint all over the canvas and use all my available tools to create textures. Sometimes I use my fingers (and sometimes my toes), dipping them into the paint and moving them around the canvas. I have prompts when I’m stuck. I give myself permission to simply play. Play allows you to bring forth that forgotten wonderment you had as a child learning language and beginning to see the world around you.
The most important questions children ask as they begin to experience the world are “why?” and “what if?” Why is the sky blue? Why do birds fly? What if I color outside the lines? What if I pour the whole bottle of detergent in the washing machine?
As you play in your medium of choice, remember to PONDER. Stop and ask questions of yourself as if you were a child experiencing wonderment. Why do I like that character I just created so much? What if that color manifests itself in this corner of the canvas? What if I don’t rhyme these words in this poem? Why do I like this movement of music?
The why’s and what if’s begin to inform the work you are creating – and move you to begin asking “How?” How do I tell the story from that character’s point of view? How do I build a scene on this canvas? How do I capture the words that speak to the mystery of love in this poem?
Playing, plus pondering, helps you to cultivate the uniqueness of your creative voice. As you answer the why’s, what if’s, and the how’s, your uniqueness will begin to flourish. Play and ponder, and you will find your voice.
#5: I = Instruct & Inspire
Another way to find your unique, creative voice is simply to INSTRUCT someone in your method. Even if it’s not fully thought out and realized, sharing your method with someone will help you grow and give voice to your own unique creative style. It doesn’t matter who that person is (unless they are super critical – do not engage the critic) – the act of explaining to somebody what you did and how you did it builds confidence into your creative endeavors.
Your enthusiasm and passion for your own work in turns help INSPIRE those around you in their own creative work. Creative passion is contagious and that’s a beautiful thing. Others will want what you have. Instructing someone in your own method, not only helps you develop your own creative voice, it inspires others around you to be creative too.
#6: R = Recall & Rediscover
RECALL and take a trip down memory lane. If you have a closet full of art (like some of us), pull these pieces out and look at them now. If you have a notebook of poems, finished or not, reread. If you have notes on characters you created for a story, review and re-examine. Pretend you are opening a time capsule to your younger creative self.
What was happening in your life at that time you painted that picture? What was happening in your community and world when you wrote that poem? REDISCOVER who you were when you first became interested in your chosen creative medium. That rediscovery will help you celebrate your creative accomplishments in your present.
I occasionally study my own art. I take out my shelved pieces of papers, canvases, and notes from the past. I review and remember what techniques I struggled with as if I’m rereading an old journal. Seeing where I was then, helps me appreciate where I’m at now on the journey. I now celebrate that I’ve found my own creative playfulness and my own style of doing art. It’s also helps me realize that “finding my voice” is still a work in progress.
Which brings us to #7….
#7: E = Engage & Emerge
Finding your voice is a process – not a destination. ENGAGE in the process and your voice will EMERGE. Like anything worthwhile – creativity is a muscle that needs to be worked as much as you can. I suggest finding time daily to engage, create and challenge yourself to create more. Work those creative muscles. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.
Find a way to engage and keeping working it. Build up an energy reserve for those days that creating seems impossible. Have some mantras to help you when you get stuck:
- “I am an artist.
- I am creative.”
- “I am dedicated to my art of (fill in the blank: writing, poetry, music, drawing, dancing, painting).”
- “My creative voice is emerging. I have faith in the process.”
Finding your own unique creative voice can at times feel mysterious, and a bit scary. Yet, it’s truly one of the greatest adventures that we can take. Your emerging voice will open the world to you in new and exciting ways. Whether you choose to play with any of these strategies or not, I wish you all the best on your creative journey.
If you practice any of these techniques, skills, or practices to cultivate your unique, creative voice I would love to hear from you. What works for you? What doesn’t work? What practices do you recommend that are not on my list?
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