The Importance of Creative Playtime

Last week, I looked forward to a beautiful Saturday filled with long walks or a hike and filling my creative well.

It rained, hailed, and snowed the entire day. Sam was away working for the weekend, so it was just me, the cat, and the weather.

Gloomy days like that are hard on me sometimes, but I spent the morning curled up with a book, hoping things would clear up so I could go for a walk,  but they never did. By midday, I felt super antsy. I decided to sit withT that feeling for a minute and find out what I really needed.

It was simple: I needed to lighten up, loosen up, and play around. I needed some “Creative Playtime.” I took some of my Christmas money, drove through some monster puddles to the store and picked up some mini canvases, then came home and changed into my paint clothes, put on The Muppet Show,  and play with new images, new techniques, and other little surprises that I might want to include in my larger paintings. I made a tiny painting for my desk at work so I could remember that part of myself even when things get busy.

I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way, so this concept was similar to the “Artist Date” the author recommends, the special time dedicating to nurturing your creativity. Here are some ideas of how can nurture your own creativity.

It’s been awhile since I’ve allowed it, but I feel like I need creative exploration and experimentation, but at the same time the other part of my brain is screaming “No! You must be productive! Build your career! Make work to sell, then promote it! Every second that you’re not sleeping or at work should be dedicated to this!”

That’s the logical thing to do, but logic isn’t always correct. Maximizing every second of every day is like dieting and communism. It works on paper but not in real life because it doesn’t account for human limits or free will. I know better than to trust that kind of logic. I can’t spend every minute of that other 8 hours painting and marketing. My work will run dry and I’ll burn out in not time.

So screw that other part of my brain. I’m in charge, and I say it’s playtime. I want to keep my well filled, try a few new techniques and mediums, sketch, read, and take good care of myself so I’ll have the energy and clarity to be at my creative best. I want to be as open as possible.

Part of the reason I went back to work full-time was to remove some pressure from my art and free up some brain space that was previously occupied by money and career stress. I have the freedom to loosen up now. Not everything I make has to be top quality, I don’t have to make everything with the intention to sell. I can make something just for me if I really feel like it. I can play with different mediums and it’s ok if they don’t work out. I think this will ultimately do great things for my work.

Here’s a few ideas for my upcoming creative playtime (and yours too!):

  • I’ve always wanted to try bookmaking, and now I feel like it’s time to actually find the tools and try it. It’s been on the back burner for years, but now I feel like I’m being called to do it.
  • I miss reading novels, so I hereby dedicate my lunchbreaks to leisurely reading.
  • No more skipping exercise or cutting walks short to make time for more “important” things. I need that movement. It feeds my soul and my creativity in a way that nothing else does. My body needs that, my mind needs it.
  • I want to play with new techniques I’ve been wanting to incorporate into my work.
  • I rarely draw anymore. Drawing is the backbone of art, so I’d like to spend some time with a sketchbook and a pencil, working on what I see.
  • I want to get outside more, visit galleries, and go on other outings that fill me.

Do you ever allow yourself some creative playtime? If you did, what would you do? How would it help you?

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Posted on January 26, 2012, in Art, Creativity, Happiness and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Reblogged this on w o o l g a t h e r.

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