10 Creative and Fun Ideas to Fuel Your Artistic Soul

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This school year has been more challenging than ever. We have seen how, despite the challenges, art teachers continue to put in the hard work and dedication to help young artists grow. We appreciate YOU! In January, we hosted the Art Teacher Appreciation Giveaway to show our appreciation and encourage you to keep creating. We had over 700 submissions via our entry form and nearly 1,500 entries on our Instagram post! The entry form asked art teachers to share an idea for how they would use the giveaway money to fuel their artistic souls.

We received a fabulous compilation of ideas, and we want to share them with you. Feel free to gain creative inspiration from your colleagues to fuel your own artistic soul.

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1. Host a “crafter-noon.”

Winner Martha Garcia used her giveaway wins to purchase art supplies for herself and a group of art teacher friends. Martha hosted a “crafter-noon” full of artmaking and laughter to recharge.

art supplies and artwork

2. Purchase fun jewelry.

We all know there is a trend to wear crazy, fun earrings or jewelry. Nothing screams “I’m an art teacher!” like a pair of Frida Kahlo earrings. Stephanie Arem, another giveaway winner, spent her gift card on new bling to reflect upcoming artists and units in her curriculum. Stephanie shares, “I feel super snazzy, the kids absolutely love it, and I will be supporting fellow artists!”

3. Stock up on markers.

Permanent markers, calligraphy pens, skin tone color palettes—apparently, you cannot have too many types of markers! Who knew markers are the one magical supply everyone wants? Whether for art teachers or their students, every single type of marker imaginable appeared on the submission form.

colorful markers

If you are looking for new types of markers to experiment with, try these out:

4. Treat yo’ self.

While this is the theme throughout the giveaway, some submission answers were definitely more self-indulgent. But why not? You should not feel guilty for pouring into yourself after spending our workday pouring into hundreds of students. Elise Chambers shared she would buy herself a fresh bouquet of flowers each week, and Kelly Minder proclaimed, “ICE CREAM! It is the treat I need some days after school before dinner. I deserve lots of ice cream.” I don’t know about you, but I can 100% get behind both ideas.

ice cream bowls

Other extravagant self-care submissions included acupuncture, wine, a massage, and lots and lots of coffee.

5. Invest in your professional artistic practice.

We spend the school day teaching our budding artists how to be artists. Several applicants said they would use the winnings to practice what they preach and build up their own art careers. Brenna Baluh would use the money to cover a show entry fee. Trinh Bitzer would purchase a domain name to start a personal artist website. Tessa Fleming said she would get supplies to start selling art on Etsy.

Winner Sandra Dunn used her gift card to purchase supplies to make miniature scenes called Book Nooks, which will be exhibited in her local library this spring. She used the spines of upcycled book covers to form the walls of these exquisite, intimate spaces. Sandra hopes that “the book nooks feel inviting, quirky, and inspirational just like real artists’ nooks!” Her creations fascinate her students as well as her community.

miniature scenes
Image courtesy of Sandra Dunn

6. Spend it with family.

Jason Schuette’s entry may resonate with those of you with children at home. He would love to take his family out to spend quality time together with dinner and a movie or visit an arcade or museum. “Anything with them would be fun!”

popcorn machine

7. Upgrade or create a home studio space.

Many art teachers do not have ideal studio spaces at home—big surprise, right? It is hard to make art when you do not have an inspiring space to create in. If you don’t have a designated room in your home, Alyssa Moll suggested obtaining a small art cart. “I can create my own work outside of the classroom. It would sit by my dining table so I could begin each morning with my coffee and a sketchbook session.”

art desk with supplies

8. Get outside!

There is nothing like fresh air to rejuvenate, especially with warmer temps and spring on the horizon. Kelly Barnes “would love more adventures outdoors and would purchase an Indiana State Parks Pass for more time exploring.” Colleen Pake described how she would go on a solo-camping-art-retreat. “Camping, peace and quiet, and creating art for an entire weekend sound amazing.”

Morgan Eggink wants to bring more outdoor art experiences to students. One way to do this is to get a class set of drawing boards. If you want to do something similar with your students but the price of drawing boards is out of your range, get dollar store clipboards for smaller drawings or raid the scrap wood section at your local hardware store.

holding sketchbook outside

9. Go on an art date.

Use your leave or wait until you have a day off to go on an exciting day date. Soak in some gallery time looking at new art in person, then grab a bite to eat at your favorite lunch spot. Go alone for some quiet or, as Michelle Mitchell suggested, bring your significant other along for some quality time. An art date does not need to be at a traditional museum either. Teresa Emeloff said, “Fund a glass blowing workshop or sketch architecture with some new art supplies!” Brandon Finamore had the brilliant idea of upgrading all his museum memberships so he can “have a little bit of an escape” whenever he needs it.

10. Register for some relevant PD.

There is nothing like really good professional development that gets you reignited for art education. Even though we are in the very specific field of art ed, there are many great options available in person or online. Sign up for a workshop at your local arts center, the NAEA Convention, or the next NOW Conference. Register for a studio course or watch some PRO Packs to learn a new skill, medium, or art form. Learning new things you can take back to your studio or classroom is invigorating!

While we were only able to select a few random giveaway winners, we appreciate all of you and the unseen work you do to advocate for your students and programs. Nicole Hoff reminded us of this well-known saying, “Science will get us out of this pandemic. But art will get us through it.” We hope sharing some creative ways to fuel your artistic soul will inspire you to give back to yourself. It’s important to pour into yourself as an artist and art educator so you can continue to expose students to the power of the visual arts.

What will you do to fuel your artistic soul? 

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.


Lindsey McGinnis

Lindsey McGinnis is AOEU’s Media Content Manager and a former high school art educator. She is passionately equipping art teachers to be successful in their classrooms and firmly believes that art is a safe place for students to explore and process the challenging topics and concepts around them.

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