Post by Tiffany Dahle
I cannot draw my way out of a paper bag. Paint brushes fumble out of my fingers. Yet, I adore every single thing about The Artful Parent because Jean has taught me that it doesn’t have to be perfect—it is the experience of creating with my kids that matters.
As a child I longed to be as talented in art class as a dear friend of mine. As an adult, I finally realized that being an artist has much broader definition than I was given in school. One of my favorite parts of being a mom is finding the opportunity to explore creativity as part of my daily life with my family.
Perhaps you’ve stopped by Jean’s lovely site for some inspiration for your children, but today I’d love to inspire you to try something new for yourself. Even if we can’t draw, we can still be artists! (And if you can draw, here are some more creative ideas for you.) I hope you will find something on this list that gets your creative juices flowing and excited about exploring something different.
5 ways to (re) ignite YOUR creativity in the new year
1. Traditional “big girl camera” DSLR photography: Are you getting the most out of your camera? Have you been relying on it as a tool for capturing snapshots of big events? There is so much room for creative exploration with a camera like this.
- Try taking it off auto and learn to control your captures. The best way to do this is to start with a class. Jean recommends a great one here. Then it just comes down to practice, practice, practice.
- Use a creative project for your practice: Whether it is for a short session like a single week or as complex as a full year, challenge yourself to take a photo every single day. The repetition helps improve your technical skills while forcing you to approach your subject from a different standpoint every time. Consider projects like “14 days of Love” in February, “100 Days of Summer” in May, or a full Project 365 and then gather your images into a collage or photo book at the end.
2. Using what you have—iPhoneography: Not everyone has invested in a full DSLR, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy pursuing photography. It is amazing what our cell phones are capable of!
- Portable creative projects in your pocket :: The same idea of a daily project is even more fun using a cell phone. I managed a full Project 365 using nothing but my iPhone & Instagram in 2012. I recently discovered the app Collect which stores your images in a calendar format.
- Playing with video minus the hassle of editing :: I have a pile of old video tapes I used to capture footage of our babies that have never seen the light of day because the editing is too intimidating to me. Video captures are so simple on cell phones and you can use an app like 1 Second Everyday to play around with that feature on your phone. Similar to the photo a day project, the repetition of capturing a new bit of video every day sends you on a “treasure hunt” to find something beautiful or interesting to share about your daily life.
3. The artful kitchen :: We feed our families day in and day out. Is this task something you enjoy or dread? Maybe you feel both of those things in any given week. Sometimes we just need to get food on the table, but why not set aside a longer pocket of time in the kitchen for enjoying the process a little more just once in a while.
- Try a new cuisine :: Pick an ethnic recipe that is outside of your comfort zone and will require purchasing an exotic ingredient not currently found in your pantry. I was shocked to discover how easy it is to make our favorite chicken pad thai. “New” doesn’t need to mean “complicated.” It’s ok to find a beginner’s version of the recipe, the point is just to experiment with a new flavor.
- Pick a recipe that requires time :: Baking bread from scratch comes immediately to mind. Our family experimented with homemade cinnamon rolls over the holidays–waiting for the yeast to rise, rolling out the dough, filling it up with goodies and rolling it back up again. It took the better part of a morning, got us covered in flour and sugar, and everyone was sticky from head to toe. Not something I’d do regularly, but it was definitely a fantastic sensory experience.
- Have an in-home date :: Feed the kids early and set them up with a movie and have an adults-only dinner date right at home. Set the table elegantly, light some candles, and cook something that appeals to just YOUR palette. Try a new wine pairing. Savor your meal with your sweetie. This is the perfect chance to experiment with new foods that may bomb if placed in front of the kids. You can be a bit more daring when you only have to buy enough for 2!
4. Fabric therapy :: The way I feel about fabric is how I imagine Jean feels about paint. Mixing the colors and textures into new combinations can be a thrilling experience. I’m never quite certain how a quilt top is going to turn out until it is done. The tactile experience of petting the fabrics and smoothing them through the sewing machine is a soothing experience I would highly recommend. Start with something simple!
- RetroMama on Etsy :: I adore this shop. You’re sure to find a pattern in here you’ll love. I’ve made both her elephant and a bat very similar to her owl and my kids had a blast helping with the details. Look for simple shapes, the rest is easy.
- Thimble Blossoms for quilting :: If you have any interest in quilting but have written it off as too complicated, then you just haven’t found the right pattern. I adore everything by Camille over at Thimbleblossoms and would recommend her Sweet Cheeks pattern for any beginner. If you can sew a straight line, you can manage this quilt.
- It’s all about the materials :: As with any creative project, the quality of your materials significantly affect the outcome. I would highly recommend seeking out your local quilting shop for fabric. For not that much more money, you will have material that holds up to your efforts. If your town doesn’t have a quilting shop, I recommend the Fat Quarter Shop. You can search by fabric designer or theme or color and they have terrific sales on discontinued lines.
5. Stick a needle in it :: A year ago I went out of my comfort zone and picked up knitting. I find this hobby to be extremely taxing on my brain so I stick to just a simple basic stitch scarf. I find the repetition of the stitching to be very relaxing and enjoy doing it while I watch tv in the evenings with my husband. It makes that downtime feel productive in a good way. I’ve also enjoyed taking my projects along on car trips with the family. It’s the perfect social creative activity. I’m amazed at the gorgeous things more advanced knitters can create and similar to regular sewing, the experimentation with textures and colors for any given project makes it exciting to see how something will turn out. You only need a very few things to get started:
- The supplies :: 1 pair of knitting needles in basic bamboo size 9, 1 skein of yarn that appeals to you. For the yarn, stick to something in a traditional weight (not too chunky or with beads or sequins, etc.) Check out your local knitting shop, they are so helpful!
- Learn how to cast on :: You can find dozens of videos on YouTube for knitting, but it is hard to know what you’re looking for if you’ve never knit before. “Casting On” is the process of getting your knitting started. This video has great footage of getting the yarn onto the needles.
- The basic stitch :: There are 2 basic stitches in knitting: knit and purl. The best advice I got was to not worry about the purl stitch to start. Just do the knit stitch when you are a beginner. This is a great video tutorial of the knit stitch.
- Learning how to bind off :: Once you’ve finished your project, you need to “bind off” to get it off your needles. Check out this tutorial for binding off.
I hope this has given you some ideas for reigniting or igniting your creativity! If you have other ideas to share or something that has worked for you, please share in the comments!
About the Author ::
Tiffany Dahle is the hostess behind Peanut Blossom where she shares her belief that strong families start with strong and happy mothers. For her that means capturing beautiful photography, discovering new family friendly food, and enjoying a good book. Join her and other recovering readers wanting to prioritize a little “me time” with her No Stress Book Club.