Thursday, November 15, 2012

Creative Energy Sparks

I don't know what it is about cleaning up my work space and putting things back where they belong that inspires me. It's like every little tool, stamp, ink, scrap, or found object has an idea attached to it and that idea melds into the idea of another "thingie" and so on. Before long, all the little bits and bobs, scraps and snips, come together in a small project.

Using up stuff makes me happy! I get a satisfaction of having a clean work environment...a clean empty presumptions...a blank canvas. Using the stuff I have makes me feel less like a Craft Supply/Paper Hoarder and more like an artist/craftsman. So here's a little list of those consistent sparks of creativity...I can always do these things and come up with a small project. And small is not a bad thing! At least it's Something.

CREATIVE SPARK 1 Clean up your work table/space. Discard those little paper scraps you thought you might use unless you will use them in your next project. Put all your tools back where they belong. Clean out the "junk" drawer, "junk" baskets or bins that sit on your work table. Make sure all your like items are together. All adhesives together, all paints together, all inks together, etc. They when you're looking for something, it's with like items. This give me the illusion of a fresh start, a new project, a new beginning. It's a palette cleanser.

CREATIVE SPARK 2: Keep your most often used tools and supplies within arms reach. This idea is the basic premise of all organization but it was framed best for me by David, my brother. When we were young, he was almost always eating. It was a constant state of snacking. Problem was he'd have to wait for a commercial on TV before heading out to the kitchen. He suggested knocking down the wall between the kitchen and living room for a little "drive thru" window. (a feature in his home now...and the house he bought already had it there!) He also made his younger siblings go to the kitchen and get him something to eat while he lounged on the couch. So I always figured that the best snacks and drinks were whatever was "within reach" for him. It works the same for crafts. The more accessible something is, the more likely you are to use it.

I don't have enough room to keep EVERYTHING within reach but that's where a priority list comes in. I know what I use all the time, some of the time, and only if I have a certain project. That's how close my supplies are to me...the farther they are away from me, the less I use them. (That's also why cleaning up the space is important every so often as it makes me reevaluate where I want things to be.)

CREATIVE SPARK 3:  Refrain from buying NEW. I bought all this paper for some reason or other. I should use it. While my priorities have changed, if these supplies have survived the dreaded Toss-Out, I had some kind of idea for them. Now is the time to act upon the ideas. Make a promise to buy nothing in a month, or no more of a certain supply (like paper). Honestly, I find limits to be very's one of those Macguyver moments. You've got a paper towel tube, acrylic paint in blue and yellow, a patterned paper from 3 years ago, large brads, buttons, and scraps of stuff from your last project...GO! What do you make? What can you make? What fun can you have with it? My own resolution to buy NO NEW PAPER THIS YEAR has been pretty damn successful. While I still have a month and a half to go, I'm confident to make it to the NEW YEAR without having spent any money on new paper. Considering the stash I still have, I may have to make it next year's resolution as well!

CREATIVE SPARK 4Educate yourself on your supplies. Bought something because it was the new thing? Saw it at one of those large trade-type shows being demonstrated and it looked so easy and cool? Now you can't remember what it did? Been there, done that! Once you understand the capabilities of the products you already own, it's easier to reach for the "right" tool. Even if you just have to play around with the supply to see how it works for you. But there are also YouTube videos on just about every new product out there.  Learn what products from what brands work best for you and resolve to stick with them. If cheaper "store brands"provide the desired results, stay with it. For me just learning the differences between ink pads for rubber stamping was a eye opener! I'm much more confident when making future purchases that I'm getting what I need, not a duplicate of something I already own! As well, Embossing Powder! I thought they were all the same but WRONG! I've recently tossed about 3 jars of stuff I've had for YEARS because I finally decided they didn't give me the glossy finish I liked! Education!

And once you've learned how a product works and how it's meant to be used, figure out how YOU like to use it. I love Ranger's Adirondack Alcohol Inks but I never "learned" how to use them "properly". I didn't have the money to invest in the applicator tool or the little felt squares. So I just winged it. I used them like liquid inks, swirling them together directly on glossy cardstock that had a layer of Blending Solution coating it. I loved the way several drops would stream and swirl and gently blend together. It wasn't until almost a year later that I came across a book that had directions for using the inks with the applicator tool and how the Blending Solution was used. I tried that method and it worked well. I still like my method best but now I have many different effects that can be achieved through the use of ONE product, rather than many products. If I had simply known how the product was "supposed" to work, I may never have purchased it in the first place.

CREATIVE SPARK 5Walk away. I can't tell you how many times in the last couple months I have started something, a card front or a page in my art journal, and just didn't like it. It would seem too simple or too empty. It's color would be odd to me or something. Amazingly, I'd get up and walk away from it, maybe to check the laundry or grab a snack. Coming back to it after an hour or so, it looked different. It wasn't so muddled. The color was ok. In fact, it looked pretty neat! I get into a narrow view when I work and start trying to accomplish a set vision. But by breaking off of the goal, and walking away, my mind starts to reset. When I look at it again, I see what I didn't before because I was too focused on the end. Fresh eyes are never bad.

CREATIVE SPARK 6Recycle, upcycle, repurpose. Nothing makes me happier than using up cardboard that I've saved from countless packages of paper. I love re-purposing it. Even if it only ends up being a "glue" board or a glitter catcher, at least, it served a purpose. But consider those things you might end up tossing out and thing about how you might use them in your artwork or crafts. Now don't misunderstand, I'm also a "throw it away" girl. I simply cannot keep every little bit of paper is hopes that I'll use it someday. Remember that Space is precious, too. And the less space you potential garbage takes up, the more space you have for your tools and fresh supplies. So just be judicious about what you sure you're going to use it SOON and that you already have an idea for it. No room to store it. Simple.

Have I gone on long enough? Yup. So here's a quick picture of a little Creative Spark from my art journal...still the beginner's edition!

This spread, Drops of Jupiter, holds to a few Creative Sparks. It finds a new use for Aluminum Foil. It's in the corners and painted with Golden Fluid Acrylics. The background is Dylusions Ink spray. Ghosting technique with Dylusions stencil in background. Stars, bird, and circles were leftover scraps sitting in my "junk" box on my craft desk. Named because of the falling diagonal and the spacey look of it and...well, why not?

More art journal next post.
"Worry is the misuse of imagination."  ---Dan Zadra

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