It’s blog time! I apologize for being absent the last few weeks. You can read about the reason for my absence here, but I’ll say that everything is much brighter at the moment and I am ready to jump into this topic: How to nurture your inner artist.
First, why should you nurture your inner artist?
Well, why not? It’s good for you.
Okay, I have more than that. If your inner artist is anything like mine, she is a sensitive little empath that needs a lot of nurturing in order to thrive and create. I’ve done a lot of things over the years that have been counterproductive to nurturing my creativity and inner artist. For example, allowing myself to get trapped in harsh self-judgmental thoughts.
We all do things that are detrimental to our creativity at some point and with varying intensity, but you can train yourself to avoid those behaviors. There are a few things I’ve learned to do that nurture my inner artist, build my creative confidence, and allow myself permission to create.
1. Stop wondering if you’re an artist.
It’s a frustrating, pointless, and almost philosophical distraction from actually making art. Am I an artist?
I’ve asked this and denied I was an artist even when I was making art. I am not the only one who does this. I’ve spent a lot of time reading random comment threads on the internet. A lot of us are guilty.
Artists ask questions like: Is my work good? Is this real art? Am I skilled enough to be an artist?
We want to find the answer so we can give ourselves permission to keep creating or give up. I say, save yourself some time and energy. Stop wondering about these questions and just make art.
2. Don’t expect your art to look like other artists’ art.
The inspiration we feel when we see artwork we love can be powerful. It’s common to see great work and want to be just like that artist–but you are not that artist. You are you, and you must make art that honors your inner artist.
Part of how we learn a new skill is to watch what others do and mimic it. Copy, compare, adjust. We base whether we are doing it right according to how our work compares to others, but that doesn’t translate completely to the art world. You see a successful artist, and you want to do what they do–but this can be detrimental to the development of your own inner artist.
For every artist that inspires you, I want you to only focus on learning skills and techniques from them. Do not focus on creating their art exactly. You will find your own unique style within the differences. There is value in those differences.
3. Enter an artist community, not a competition.
No matter how many art competitions you see out there, you do not need to be in competition with other creators. For many reasons, but for this post, exiting the competitive race with other artists can help create a sense of safety for your inner artist. My inner artist is stifled by pressure to compete, so forming a community gives me more room to breathe.
Within this sense of community, I want you to focus on kindness. If you find yourself often thinking negative thoughts about other artists (or people in general), odds are pretty good you are even meaner to your inner artist without realizing it. Compliment other artists’ work. Encourage others to create. The more practice you have with nurturing others, the easier it will be to nurture your inner artist.
4. Don’t judge your own art.
It’s hard not to judge your work at least a little bit, but I want you to try to mostly not judge your work. Especially while you are creating and trying to push your creative boundaries.
When you withhold judgment and remain playful during your artistic process, you leave room for discovery and innovation. Instead of thinking about how your art should look and abandoning a piece if it strays from your expectations, I want you to follow through and finish the work. Judgment during the creative process can halt progress entirely. Let your inner artist play.
Though, there is a place for some forms of judgment. If your work is very meticulous and you need things to look just right, you need to be able to pull back from your work and assess how to make corrections when your work strays from the initial vision. This is a reasonable judgment that helps push you forward.
What I want you to completely avoid is judging your work as bad and then discouraging yourself from creating more. This can be the death of the inner artist. Don’t do it! No matter what, you should always create more.
5. Feed your inner artist what it craves.
You need input in order to create. Everything you consume can feed (or starve) your inner artist. Be mindful of what you take in. That means making sure that you are feeding your inner artist a nutritious diet and not negative, energy-draining content. For example, mindlessly scrolling through social media and then feeling bad about yourself. I feed my inner artist by following my curiosity. Sometimes these curiosities will be art related, and sometimes they will be completely random.
Following your curiosity means consuming media that inspires you. Taking field trips to new places, or even just a self-care shopping trip to an art store. Or you can learn a new skill, read books, socialize with people you like, and so much more.
When you feel blocked, it can be helpful to focus on something outside of art for a bit to give your inner artist something new to focus on. Over the last few months, as I have struggled with my own creativity, I became obsessed with nutrition and searching for new recipes. It wasn’t related to my work with painting or writing, but it was still a creative exercise that gave my inner artist time to play without pressure.
If something makes you feel good, follow it. If something leaves you feeling guilty and bad, maybe that’s not the right thing to do right now.
6. Create a schedule you can stick to.
Prioritize creativity and make it a routine. For some, creating is as important as eating, sleeping, and exercising. Just like you have a sleep schedule and meal schedule, I want you to have an art schedule. Your inner artist needs to be disciplined. Listen to what it needs, and rest when you need it, but you should also push when you need it. It’s all about balance, and it’s up to you to decide what you really need at the moment.
Think about your daily routine and set small goals for yourself. Maybe you will paint for an hour a week. Maybe you will doodle on your iPad before bed each night. It will often feel like work to force yourself to create outside of windows of inspiration, but it is the good kind of work that will benefit your inner artist greatly over time.
I’ve been using these 6 tips on myself for years. When I get off track, I revisit them and give my inner artist the love and nurturing she deserves. I hope they will work for you too.
Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post.
P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artists with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.