5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Creativity, Pt. 1


Cindy painting to music. 

How easy it is to slide into routines, keeping our work (art or other) on familiar paths,  running on autopilot along rigid tracks or inside sight-limiting ruts. It takes a spark of creative energy to jump off the same-old same-old, and that's what this weekend retreat was designed to do.


Fly's painting. 

For the next five posts, I will share one "jumpstart" exercise from the many we tried on for size. Some are more-or-less original, others are certainly not mine, and I'll credit their source. Others are compilations of a bit of this and that, but all five of these were mentioned this weekend by participants as having helped provide a little spark of energy, a bit of creative juice for the soul. I think of these as ways to start my time in the studio, interesting "starters" for getting back into a piece of work or for shaking up my ideas when things seems stale, unexciting or too frightening to face.

Five Ways to Jumpstart Your Creativity , Part 1 


Jean.jpg Donnaspainting.jpg
Jean's painting. 

1. Paint to Music

I think this was the universal favorite exercise for the weekend. And surely nothing could be simpler.

Squeeze out some good colors, and a range, of paints on foam meat trays or another unintimidating palette. Assemble an assortment of brushes in different sizes. Use some largish paper and either work on a table top or pushpin the paper to a wall or easel.

(Donna's painting, right)


If you have an ipod or MP3 player, you might want to purposefully assemble a set of 4-to-5 minute songs ahead of time, but you can also just put a selection of CDs on the player and push "random." I like using instrumental music best, the words won't be too directive, and you'll find yourself forced into responding directly to the sound, notes, tempos and rhythms of the music. Initially, you may want to paint on a different sheet of paper for each piece of music, but you may want to try a larger painting to several cuts on the same sheet, too.

Diane's painting (below) 


Probably the best music to start with is something percussive and earthy, maybe some African drum music or Celtic dance music. But don't let your music stay too rooted to one genre. The joy of this is taking out those back-of-the-shelf CDS (even albums if you still own a turntable!) and putting on something unfamiliar. Some of  the music we tried this weekend: Yo-Yo Ma "The Cello Suites, Inspired by Bach;" "Mama" produced by the Drum Cafe; Grupo Romm, "Gracula's Internazionale" (A CD we bought on the streets of Florence),  "Concerto RV 532 for Two Guitars & String Orchestra" by Vivaldi, from a compilation album published by Williams Sonoma; "Caliente" by Willie and Lobo: and some Neopolitan songs from bass clarinet jazz musician Bill Colangelo's slef produced album "Grandpa's Songs."

Don't be too literal. Get out of your way. Just let your muscles respond to the music. See what happens. One participant found that for the first time she could work abstractly with paint once she released any idea of depicting a symbol or image. Another woman, a fiber artist, was reminded how fun it was to work in an unfamiliar medium. See what you come up with, and let me know your favorite musical selections for painting.

Lauripic.jpg  Lauri's painting. (and it's upsidedown, sorry)

Cindy's painting, after 3 songs.