The year-end holidays are upon us! Thanksgiving was last Thursday, Christmas is just around the corner and New Year’s Day isn’t far behind. It’s a lot of activity packed into six weeks.
For artists, the holidays can be a difficult time to get anything done in the studio. You may even be thinking about shutting the door and forgetting the studio until after the first of the year.
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If you need the time to recharge, by all means, go ahead. That plan is as good as any, and better than some! But if you’d rather stay creative through the holidays, here are a few great ways to do that:
1. Daily studies
I encourage you to continue working on some of those larger projects if you have one in progress (especially if it’s due before Christmas.)
But it might also be a good time to add a little spice to your creative life by trying something different, like small daily sketches or studies. They don’t have to be very large; in fact it’s better if they aren’t.
They don’t have to be “serious art” either. Again, it’s better if they aren’t.
What should you draw? Just off the top of my head, a dinner roll, a wrapped gift, falling snow, a Christmas ornament or light, your pet, a piece of candy. . . in short, whatever catches your eye.
The beauty of these small studies is that you can do just one a day and stay creative. In addition, you’re honing your drawing skills, and maybe, just maybe, finding a subject for a more serious piece of art next year. Win-win-win!
2. On-the-spot drawing
This is also known as life drawing. Except here, it’s completely spontaneous. Here’s how it works:
You’re sitting in a restaurant for a cup of coffee or a treat after shopping. You have a few minutes. Why not sketch something on your table, on a neighboring table or viewed through the window?
You get the idea. Look for those moments when you’re waiting. Even if it’s just a few minutes, you probably have time for a gesture study or two. For instance, I drew this little sketch from my front porch after dark.
Of course, you need to plan for those moments by keeping drawing tools handy, but a pencil and small drawing pad don’t take up that much space!
3. Handmade greeting cards
How can you go wrong by making your own greeting cards? If you send cards, take a little time to make your own for those special people. You’ll have exercised your creativity, and the recipients will be delighted with the extra attention.
And if you don’t usually send cards, you can always provide cards for other people to send, or make your own unique gift tags for presents. The holidays always offer opportunities for little handmade notes, tags, place settings, cards and more!
4. Hand-crafted gifts
If you’re going to make greeting cards, why not gifts? There are certain to be people on your list who would love a piece of your art, or something else that you make with your own two hands.
Hand-made decorations are also a great way to stay creative – and at the same time, they make your home or studio so much more festive! You can make wall hangings, accent pieces, or even ornaments to hang on the tree.
One easy way to do this is paer cutting. This is a creative outlet most of us don’t practice these days (or even know much about) but it’s the perfect way to stay creative, try something new, and make some great decorations while you’re at it.
No, I’m not talking about the usual family-and-holiday pictures. Aim for more “artistic” images; the kind of images you might like to paint from. I can speak from personal experience that composing images through the lens of a camera is a great way to find potential, new subjects. And then there’s no reason to use other people’s reference photos if you have your own!
Some of us love decorating. Lights, tinsel, shiny ornaments. The works. Or greens, plants, flowers, and other bits of the out-of-doors brought inside.
Let your creativity run wild (well, maybe not too wild!) Think of the space you want to decorate the same way you think of a blank canvas, and compose the perfect seasonal look for your home or office.
8. Baking & cooking
One of my all-time favorite Christmas activities is making Christmas cookies. Back in the day, my youngest sister and I used to make a day of decorating cookies and filling boxes for the mail man, the vet, the milk man (we lived on a dairy farm) and anyone else we could think of.
Whether you’re mixing colors of frosting or just finding ways to make each cookie interesting, beautiful, and unique, it was definitely a creative experience.
And of course decorating food isn’t limited to cookies. There are lots of other holiday treats to be made like breads, candy, deserts – you name it. If you’re good in the kitchen at all, think about moving your creativity from the studio to the kitchen.
9. Creative gift wrapping
Maybe this one seems like an exercise in futility – gifts are so often torn open in seconds.
But imagine beautifully wrapped gifts before they’re open, stacked artistically around the Christmas tree. You don’t have to just tape paper in place and stick a bow on top. Think of ways to make the gifts you wrap more unique; more creative, and more fun throughout the days leading up to Christmas.
I hope you enjoyed these tips on staying creative in and out of the studio during the holidays – I’m sure you can think of others, too! So go out and be. . . creative!