Professional Practice

7 Ways to Add Fuel to Your Artistic Fire

Image of artist painting on a canvas

Image of artist painting on a canvas

At the core of our love for teaching is the love of artmaking and creating. We are artists, but sometimes this detail is easy to forget. As educators, we get bogged down with paperwork, grading, evaluating, and work obligations. It is important to recharge, fuel our artistic selves, and make time to create art. Scheduling artmaking is essential. Creating art definitely won’t happen if it is not built into your life.

Do yourself a favor, mark it on your calendar. Block off a time to be who you really are—an artist. Summer or a long break is the perfect time to renew and refuel.

Here are 7 ways to refuel your inner artist:

1. Seek a creativity guru.

Creativity takes work. Follow someone else’s lead. Julia Cameron is an incredible example. Her book, The Artist’s Way, discusses the value of building in time to create. She recommends utilizing “morning pages” as an essential step in having time to brain dump and open up space in your head for artmaking and creativity. Click here to read Julia’s discussion of the concept of morning pages. Many artists can attest that they really do work!

2. Carve out a physical space.

It is easy to use the excuse that you do not have the physical space or time to create art. In reality, the dream studio you see in magazines is never going to miraculously appear. Find a corner, a makeshift desk, a table end. Pin up some inspiration, and put out some supplies. Viola! You have your own artmaking space. Any small area can do the trick. Remember, perfection is not the goal; sitting down and doing it is. What does it matter if it is out in the open, taking up the space of, say, your mail? If it is in a visible space, you are more likely to work!

3. Use what you have.

Gather the supplies you have around the house and create. You probably have a half used tube of paint, a decent brush, and some cool pens you haven’t used in a while. If you feel like you don’t know how or where to start, take a peek at the article, Ways to Overcome a Blank Canvas.

4. Do a little at a time.

Watch this inspirational video by artist, Dan Gregory. His video, The Art of Breakfast, is a visual inspiration for working at home and enjoying the process of artmaking. In his book, Art Before BreakfastGregory says, “Artmaking can fit into the craziest, busiest, most hectic and out of control lives—even yours. And it’ll take just a few minutes a day.”

5. Make art on the go.

Image of sketchbook and pens in a small purse

Maybe you do not have physical space. Why not gather a little bag with a sketchbook and some simple supplies. Keep it in your bag, purse, or car and when you have downtime in between errands or waiting for appointments, doodle and draw away. It will help you feel connected to your artmaking anywhere you happen to be. Consider pre-painting your sketchbook pages. This way, they are ready to go, and you can draw and create on pages that are not plain white.

6. Go outside!

Path in an outdoor field

Give your eyes some visual eye candy as you explore nature. Wander. Get lost, experience, and breathe in nature. It will revive and refuel your creative self.

7. Don’t overthink it.

Don’t judge yourself or critique your work. Simply create. The work will come. Artist, Dean Nimmer, encourages you to create lots of work. In his weeklong nonstop creativity workshops, “100 Drawings,” artists create artwork they are proud of. Some drawings are successes some failures, but it is all about the process. Dean’s book, Art From Intuition: Overcoming your Fears and Obstacles to Making Art, offers great lessons and tips to get you creating.

Reward yourself this summer with artmaking time. Refuel your inner artist and create. Think about sharing your artmaking with your students come this fall. They will love knowing you are an artist and see the value in making time to create over the summer.

What are you eager to create this summer when you have the gift of time?

Do you have any favorite books or videos to spark creativity?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Christina Chang

Christina Chang, a high school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys building a welcoming art classroom for all students to create in.

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