Making Art Fun Again - Redefining Your Creative Muse

By: Stephen John Phillips - Full-Time Faculty, Digital Photography

July 7, 2017

Making Art Fun Again

Having fun isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult, especially when life or classwork gets in the way. After many years of teaching, I can’t tell you how many times I have had students say they have lost the JOY for making art. It happens to everyone from time to time, myself included. The key is figuring out just how you can get it back! That varies from person to person, but it is all about what inspires us! Some call it a “ creative muse,” but all that really means is we need to figure out how to have fun again and what it takes to make our creativity SHOW UP!

Let’s see if we can’t figure it out together. Some go to exhibitions or museums, others read poetry or listen to music, some take a walk in the woods. When I have a creative block, I watch a bad Sci-fi or Horror Movie, but that’s just me. I also keep a sketchbook and that is a very valuable tool. My sketch book includes everything that inspires me—song lyrics, magazine clippings, CD covers, contact sheets, graphic novel pages, cartoons, photographs of vintage toys, etc. Head’s up—you don’t have to be able to draw, so maybe we should call it a journal instead.

The important thing to remember is—art makes us HAPPY! At least it DID, and it will again! Think about what it was that attracted you to the idea of being an artist in the first place. For me, it happened in a high school yearbook class. The first time I set foot in a darkroom, I was hooked! Watching the paper develop in the tray was pure MAGIC! Maybe for you, it was the first time you created a portrait of a loved one or took a photograph that others admired.

If you loved it once, you can do it again but this time, do it just for YOU! Meaning, perhaps you have an assignment in class that is not your favorite. I bet there is something about it that could translate to your personal work. A technique, for example. Say you learned about hand coloring a still life and maybe you don’t like still lifes. Take the technique and apply it to your own work—a portrait, a landscape, etc. 

One of my favorite artists is a Pop Surrealist Painter named Mark Ryden. He has a quote that really applies—“ I believe if you follow your heart and do what you love, success will follow. If you enchant yourself, others will, too."

So, give it a try. Enchant yourself and start a project that is just for YOU!

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By: Stephen John Phillips - Full-Time Faculty, Digital Photography

July 7, 2017