Start making art right now

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

There’s no better time than the present moment to start making art. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get a pen and paper or whatever is lying around nearby – old receipts and envelopes work just as well as blank paper.
  2. Make some marks for 2 minutes. Increase time as you progress.
  3. Repeat daily. Voila, you’ve begun making art!

Stuck as to what to draw? What’s in front of you: food, pets, family, faces, plants, shoes or possessions. From your imagination: doodles, cartoons, dreams, patterns, shapes or words. Fun experiments: blind drawings, using your non-dominant hand, foot or mouth, dot to dot, use a stick or draw in the dark.

If you’re silently expecting to be as good as artists like Da Vinci or O’Keeffe right away, you’re going to be VERY disappointed. Your art will be messy, ‘bad’ and gloriously filled with wonderful mistakes (aka learning potential). Focus on the fun making something out of nothing and continue in the face of disappointment that you’re not a master artist immediately. It takes time and a lot of practice to move past the beginner artist stage, but this stage is the most exciting and messy because everything is new and you can make your own rules as you go. Embrace the fun of being a beginner!

“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” — Robert Collier

Failure is a vital part of creativity

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Failure. It has multiple definitions but if we take “omission of occurrence,” then a failure is the lack of something happening. For example, you didn’t complete the art you intended. That doesn’t sound serious but we can make failure mean something much more heavy and dangerous – I am a failure. The mind complicate things by making it feel the stakes are higher than they actually are. The mind interprets failure as life-threatening and will try to avoid at all costs, which is why it feels so bad not to reach a goal. It’s trying to protect you from getting ‘hurt’ again. But picking up a pencil to draw is not life-threatening and ‘failing’ at making art is a vital tool in your art-making practice. How else are you going to improve as an artist and learn what you like visually?

Ken Robinson in Out of Our Minds talks about failure: “I asked the renowned chemist, Sir Harry Kroto, how many of his experiments fail. He said about 95 percent of them. Of course failure is not the right word, he said “You’re just finding out what doesn’t work,” Albert Einstein put the point sharply: “Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new.” I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative but if you’re not prepared to be wrong, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever come up with anything original.”

Expect to fail, expect to make mistakes, expect that there is no perfect way to make art and if there was is would be boring and predictable. The joy of making art comes from making messy mistakes, being open to spontaneity and colouring outside of the lines. Safe and perfect sounds far less fun. Robinson encourages us that “A good deal of creative work, especially in the early stages of a project, is about openly playing with ideas, riffing, doodling, improvising and exploring new possibilities.”

Failure is a vital part of creativity and not something we should try to avoid. So when your overdramatic brain whispers “You’re a failure,” know that you’re on the right pathway to letting more creativity into your life. Thank your brain for its concern and then go make more creative mistakes.

Creating in fringe time

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

In a technology-driven world where internet access can be constant and mobile, every waiting moment or fringe time can be filled. The word ‘busy’ is now a common adjective to describe daily life but how much time do you consume media (internet, social media, tv, movies, audiobooks, podcasts, radio etc.) versus time you spend on a hobby or being creative? Being constantly in consuming mode, you miss the opportunity to create your own entertainment and develop skills through the habit of play as a adult. If you feel life is already full to the brim and there’s no time for a creative project, know you can always choose to find time. If you can find 2 minutes, you have time to be creative. Use the fringe time – time on the edges of your main duties – to quickly make something. Tap into your creativity on the move or on the fly by setting a 2 minute timer (check out ”Experiments” from the menu for artmaking ideas).

Lack of time is a myth and busy is a choice. You can choose to make space for creativity as Jessica N. Turner in The Fringe Hours argues “You make time for what is important to you.” And “You are never too busy to make time for what you love. It’s just a matter of prioritizing—evaluating how you spend your days and dedicating time for what you value. If something is really important to you, you will find a way to fit it into your life.”

Don’t believe the story about there not being enough time when every day is filled with fringe time moments. Decide to make something, grab 2 minutes and make it.

“Activities and passions pursued during the fringe hours make a life more beautiful and the participant feel more alive and more uniquely herself.” — Jessica N. Turner, The Fringe Hours

Have fun experimenting with unconventional media

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

All you need to get started making art is a pen and paper. But once you’ve built up some practice and courage (it takes a lot of courage to continue to make ‘messy’ art and beginner art), you can start to try different drawing materials. This adds a whole new fun level of experimentation but one that can be overwhelming with possibilities and choice. Before you rush out and buy all the colours in all the different art supplies, remind yourself of your objective – to have fun. To enjoy the process of making something out of nothing. It’s easy to feel disheartened when the art doesn’t match the expectations in the mind but it can become magnified when money has been spent buying tools to help make ‘great’ art.

Carolyn Schlam in The Creative Path says “I encourage you to try many different media and just soak up all the fun and complexity of art making. Play and experimentation are essential components of our profession, and taking on new toys puts us in a playful mood.” The focus is on play and experimentation. Different media could mean whatever you’ve already got in your cupboards. They don’t have to be specifically art supplies as there are plenty of foods and household supplies that can work just as well. Things like painting with food colouring, beetroot juice or coffee. Making collages out of old packaging, magazines and leaflets. Or make patterns using everyday objects to. There’s so much you can get started with without having to leave the house. Don’t get caught up on using fancy supplies, instead focus on having fun exploring unconventional media that you can start using today.

Acorns and seeds turn into trees

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

“From Little Acorns Do Mighty Oaks Grow” goes the English proverb. This may be a helpful mindset to adopt when you’re making art as an adult. Instead of judging every little mistake, mark or piece of work as not being good enough, see each thing you make as a tiny seed. It takes a lot of time and water to become fully grown and its impossible to transform into a tree overnight (unless you have magic beans and live in a fairytale).

Robert Louis Stevenson advises “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Your art doesn’t need a harsh judgmental critic. It needs a kind and positive cheerleader to give encouragement and support so that you’ll continue making art. An acorn is no less important or valuable than a tree even though it is smaller in size. In the same way your beginner art is just a different stage to the art you’ll make years from now. Both have their merits and show creativity. But if you’re enjoying the process then that’s all that really matters.