A Year of Creating Every Day

art collage with elephant, night sky, calf, hydrangea flower, the number 5 walking a tightrope, east coach beach dunes, blue ball jar and cherry blossom tree on a book page.
My Choices for 2017 Best Nine
 My One Word for 2017 was Create. I am proud that I have maintained and cultivated the habit of creating every day and have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Through this daily creative practice, I learned a lot of different lessons.

A daily creative practice improves mood. There were only maybe three days throughout the year where this daily create commitment felt like a chore and those were usually related to illness. The last thing on my mind following let's say a painful oral surgery procedure was creating. Inevitably following a quick sketch or painting, I always felt a bit better.

For me, doing something creative with my hands helps focus my mind and eliminates distractions. Whether it's painting, lettering, drawing, or some creative programming with my Raspberry Pi, the creative act is a learning process that provides clarity and increased focus in this age of increasing distraction. This is why making time for creativity is so important. Unlike previous years, where creative pursuits fell away when I became busy, during 2017 it was creative pursuits that helped provide sanity and balance when things got busy.

I really like daily art challenges. They provide community, introduction to new mediums and the challenge of interpretation. I started the year using the book Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way by Jennifer Orkin Lewis as daily drawing inspiration but something was missing and that's community.  This lesson was reinforced this month when I chose to pursue #Drawcember but made up my own holiday-related prompts every day. As a result, I missed the community. There is something really powerful about seeing other artists interpretation of the same prompt using similar or wildly different materials. I gain such inspiration from others. That's what I appreciate about classes from CreativeBug and other internet daily challenges.

In March, I stumbled across #DoodleADay on Twitter and joined in. Some daily prompts required you to look at others work and integrate their ideas into the next day's prompt. The community and exchange of ideas helped extend my creative practice.  Many more challenges followed.  Some completed, some partially complete. (See links to Google Photo albums at the bottom of this post.) #DoodleADay overlapped into #Sketch50.  July was devoted to a CreativeBug Watercolor Botanical Challenge.  September was spent exploring book arts.  Even though I still haven't finished this challenge, I learned a ton of new techniques that I have applied to other works. Similarly with the October daily lettering challenge.

My favorite daily challenge was #inktober.  The prompts were straightforward with ink being the only constraint. The sheer magnitude of artists participating in this challenge worldwide exposed me to the tremendous possibilities with ink.  I learned tons of new techniques during this challenge and it introduced me to the wonders of painting with ink. This will be a challenge I will definitely repeat in 2018! This challenge also introduced me to ArtSnacks which is a subscription box where you receive professional-level, curated art supplies every month.  I look forward to my ArtSnacks box each month and have discovered some new favorite art supplies. (Who knew a Molotow liquid Chrome marker would be so awesome? That's just ONE of my many new favorites!)

Art collage with different multi-color shapes, a nightsky citycape all in green, horse, Happy People Lettering, Digital Drawing of Alamo in San Antonio, Palm Trees, and blue still life of flowers and pear
#2017BestNine from Instagram
Daily creative practice is essential. Take my 2017 Best Nine for Example. When I saw my Instagram 2017 Best Nine, I was motivated to create my own best nine. The Instagram choices would not be the ones I would choose as my favorites. Many of my favorites have a personal connection that the Instagram algorithm would not recognize.

That's the thing with creative work. It's personal and once shared I don't know what others will respond to and that's ok. It is through producing and sharing many different things that I am able to improve and refine my practice.  If I were to focus solely on quality, then most of my creations would never be "good enough."  How many times, especially in education do we hold back and not share our ideas or our craft because we have judged it to not meet our standards? Practice is key. It's not about Creative Perfect but rather Creative Practice. It encourages experimentation and play. This is the learning process. Try something. Make "happy accidents" and celebrate the creative imperfections and see what happens next. Some of my favorite mixed media papers started off as an attempt at something new.

That's why I love the idea of The Gap from Ira Glass. As a relative newcomer to consistent creative work, I need to produce a lot of different things to help fill the gap between my taste and interests and my actual work.  That is why a daily doodle is not enough for me. These last few months, I found myself yearning for more following a quick sketch or painting. As much as I appreciate the daily challenges, I am looking for more depth and exploration. I don't believe this to be an either/or decision but rather an and proposition for the coming year. In November, I began an art journaling practice that serves as a chance for reflection and an opportunity to apply new techniques or mediums.  Currently, I'm loving the freedom, flexibility, and forgiveness of mixed media. So many possibilities that are only limited by one's imagination. In addition to my art journal, I've returned to doing sketchnote summaries of books that I've read. Creating a visual representation of my book takeaways helps solidify my understanding and is making a fun visual journal

I haven't decided on my 2018 one word yet but there a couple things that I know. I plan on continuing my daily creative practice and sharing more in this space beyond an image to social media. Whether that is sharing some art journal pieces, book sketchnotes summaries, fun techniques, bullet journaling tips, google drawing tips for the classroom or something else creative including my adventures in programming.  Here's to another year of creative practice.

Want to see the creative work in 2017? Here are links to various Google Photo Albums.