Category Archives: creativity

When in a creative slump

When in a creative slump, it’s easy to panic and think that the well has dried up for good. You feel uninspired, unmotivated, moody, a lack of general energy, and you look at things negatively. The last thing you want to hear is “rise above” or “do it anyway” or “buck up, it’s not the end of the world.”

While some of those expressions are true in many ways, it’s easy to dismiss them and stay in the doldrums.

When in the dumps you can make a conscious choice to change, but it’s not easy.

So basically how you feel is a choice. I can hear arguments coming at me, but let me explain. How do you “rise above”? I personally do it by meditation to feel better, and then everything seems easier, even if it isn’t.

Practice is a great fall-back.

When you’ve been in a slump several times, you know they don’t last, so experience makes it easier to bear.

When I feel a longing to create and do it, no matter what, I feel progress even if everything came out as mud on paper.

I suppose you could call it “do it anyway.” I have written about that before, and it boils down to a habit of going to the studio and make attempts at creating every day, even if it’s only for ten minutes. You feel progress, if not satisfaction.

The thing about experiencing a slump is part of the process of being an artist. It’s as sure as the sun rising in the sky. You feel it especially hard if you’re changing your art expression by trusting that an old style no longer works.

I’ve looked at my progression of styles over the years and it’s mind-boggling how many times things have changed! I get bored easily.

I especially dislike the “buck up” version of friendly advice. Let me just wallow in my misery, okay? 🙂 I guess I’d rather not admit that “bucking up” is a valid choice…

Anyway, IF YOU JUST SHOW UP, things will turn around and you’ll think you wasted a bunch of days on misery.

That said, I’ve changed a lot recently, and it shows up in my art. However, a friend of mine said, “I can always see YOU in all of your art styles.” That made me feel good as I have been worrying about changing from something that worked in the past to something new.

My clay art is much easier than painting. Check out my latest funky chicken, Elmer:

When in a slump, make a clay chicken…

And here’s Selma:

Selma, the sassy chicken

I made some mixed media art /paintings, and had a huge struggle to get past the super messy backgrounds. It was as if I threw everything single technique at them before I could see any steps forward. It was a messy slump indeed, but I gritted my teeth and moved one inch forward every day. I hated the panels!

I don’t have any process pictures, but these happy summer motifs came out of all that angst and disgust. To top it all, the art looked happy, the colors bright, full of joy. Go figure.

They are different than my previous painting expressions, but I felt good about the new direction. Who doesn’t like a happy summer day?

I also tried some wood panels, and I LOVE THEM! Painting on a hard surface is easier than canvas somehow. You have to experience it to know.

They are a mixture of messy paint, decorative papers, and in one case, scraps of lace.

The painting below ended up with loads of paper strips for hair. It was painstaking but I liked the result.

Air fairy

I have been admiring dioramas on Pinterest, and I made a couple, though I had no idea what I was doing. It was loads of fun! Something for you to try if you get into a creative slump??

The fairy in the second picture was store bought, and I created the landscape around her.

So when all else fails, try a simple collage or a diorama! Painting has been my hardest taskmaster. Crafts are more relaxing and not half as challenging. So, in conclusion, to grow we need to do more of what challenges us…

If you missed my last tutorial on funky paper dolls you can check it out HERE.

Have a great creative weekend!

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. The above items are for sale in my etsy shop, Earth and Faery.

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Paper dolls and muscle memory

Paper dolls and muscle memory, what do they have in common, you might ask. With a cursory glance they don’t, but if you look closer, you’ll see that my paper dolls have clay faces, and I make a lot of clay faces.

Muscle memory comes into the picture when I feel as if I can make and paint the faces in my sleep. That is how art is sometimes.

The more you practice art, the deeper you get with the process, and much of the action comes from using your muscles to repeat the process. You don’t worry about it; you just do it.

MAKING ART FRIGHTENS ME

When people sit down at an art table for the first time, it’s like the first time they sit in the car they’re supposed to drive. It’s intimidating and scary, but somehow you overcome the fear and “let it roll.”

That’s why art classes are a good way to get going with art. A good teacher will take you by the virtual hand and show you what to do, as with any new subject you approach. Think of it like learning a new language. At first, you only know a few words. After a year or so, you can speak haltingly and understand much of what people say in that language.

ART IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS NEW

Unless you paint the same motif every day, you’ll face the challenge of putting something on the blank page. Many artists paint the same style and motifs over and over, and they learn from that, but how do you explore wider vistas? You can add an element to the well-trod path. If you paint, incorporate some paper collage, or use colors you stay away from normally.

To grow as artists, we have to go down unfamiliar paths, but what we’ve learned along the way, is easy, it comes without struggle, like muscle memory for those who lift weights. You trust that your hands can do the work!

I digress..

Let’s get back to paper dolls. I have had many questions on how to paint clay faces, so I made a video, How to paint clay faces, Part 1.

The faces evolved into funky paper dolls, so you can check out the second video, How to add a painted face to a mixed media paper doll, Part 2.

I realized the faces could be used with so many styles, and how you dress the dolls, is a challenge because there are so many choices. The possibilities are endless. That’s where the exploration begins. But make a clay face first. It’s not that hard!

I’ve been busy in my studio this month, and sales are picking up since January. I’ve sold a lot of different items, and when I sell one, I usually make a replacement. Here are some samples, and these only include my etsy items, not my art journal pages.

The whimsy girl in the striped jersey is a popular items. I’ve made several. Maybe it’s the stripes?? The Love You More plaque was a custom order, the largest plaque I’ve made with my painted tiles, 10×10″.

I also really enjoyed making the “twin flame” driftwood and clay wand. Something new for me even though I sneaked in two clay faces!

Okay, what are you working on? I’d love to see some paper dolls with clay faces from you. You can send pictures to:

maria@mariagreene.org.

I love seeing other people’s art!

I wish you loads of inspiration in March, and productive happiness. ‘Til the next time, lot’s of love.

Maria

If you must have one of my latest items, please check out my etsy shop, Earth and Faery.

Creativity in these dark times

Creativity comes in many forms as in art, crafts, inspired thinking, problem solving, seeing the big picture and implementing the vision. There’s more, but I’m focusing on art / crafts as you know.

In these times it’s easy to get into bad habits, over-eating for comfort, watching too much television, lacking exercise, you name it. It’s like comfort food. It makes you feel comforted for a while, but your stomach might not like the addition. We seldom question these things, and we ignore our feelings and insights.

It’s human nature, of course, but to create something sustainable in whatever field, you have to apply yourself. If you don’t do what you know you want to do, you’re going to feel bad. We’ve all be there, but we don’t want to stay there.

When I was young, I procrastinated like crazy, but over time, I have developed much better habits. We want to perform well, be it at a job, or in front of the easel. My dad used to say, “if there’s something you have to do that you hate, do it immediately.” I so get what he meant. When I procrastinate, I have to THINK about the problem all the time. If I tackle it, the pain will be over quickly!

To do that, we have to set up some kind of framework. I have goal setting of sorts. I have to list things in my Etsy shop all the time to keep things fresh, so four days out of seven, I have to create something and list it.

For the most part, it works, and I have made a pact with myself to stick to the plan. Another commitment is to make something for the PFATT marketplace every month, and it can’t be a small insignificant thing. So I have to make at least two quality items, preferably four. Between Etsy and that, and two blog posts, and a newsletter, my hands are full!

But I love it!

Here’s a fun challenge

What do you love the most right now in your art practice (or other?)

List a few things you’d love to try, and then rank them. Concentrate on the top two and make a plan on how to manifest them. It could involve getting some art supplies, take a class, clean your art room.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with bullet lists. I use one loosely. Each week I make a list of everything I want to accomplish and then cross them off as I go. No hard and fast rules, but I do refer to that piece of paper to keep myself accountable.

If we have bad habits we’re not honoring ourselves.

You might not be able to break a bad habit easily, but ADD some good habits and set some artistic goals. One week is a good time frame, and as you get better at it, make a schedule for a month. I promise, you will feel so accomplished and uplifted, and more self-confident.

If we all were good self-motivators, we would be doing the things we love all the time. 🙂 I would love to hear from you how you’re using creativity to keep yourself upbeat in these times. You can write to me at maria@mariagreene.org.

I get a lot of questions about procrastination. I have written many posts in the past that deal with that and fear.

Procrastination is an ugly beast.

Fear is not your friend.

The point is to take small steps in the right direction and stick to it. Anything worth doing, like art, takes time and dedication, and the rewards are great!

I have been a bit busy, but not as busy as I’d like, haha.

I made a Halloween owl for the PFATT marketplace, and a monster doll that I might offer there or on Etsy.

On my work table
Mr. Halloween owl.

I don’t have a name for the owl yet. Any suggestions?

Monster doll eyes in the making.
Creativity and experimentation.

I have always loved the monster dolls on Pinterest, so I decided to try one of my own. So much fun! Sewing is not my favorite thing, but I like to mix things up. Pinterest is a great place to get ideas!

I painted and made another clay figure, and the month isn’t over yet, so who knows what comes next?

It seems I used blue a lot in my latest creations… These six items are now available in my Etsy shop, Earth and Faery.

Keep your vibe high! 🙂 Do what you love, at least fit it in between chores and work. It’s really important.

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. TIP: keep a small journal and a pouch of pens in your purse and doodle when you’re waiting at appointments, school pick ups, and having a coffee at Starbuck’s! Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Whimsical art house tutorial

Whimsical art and “funky boho colorful display” you can call these houses that are so much fun to make!

I wrote a picture tutorial on how to make them. It’s fun and easy! Here’s one:

Whimsical art house tutorial.
whimsical art house

You can buy the wooden house shape at Michael’s or online. They are cheap and easy to alter. Since I was going to cover everything with paper, I Mod-Podged the surfaces to seal them before I attached paper scraps.

Paper scraps attached, art house tutorial.
Paper scraps attached

Here the papers are dry. I covered the edges as well. You can glue the paper down and then cut the excess along the edges with sharp scissors.

All surfaces covered, art house tutorial.
All surfaces covered.

Below, I wiped acrylic paints over the surfaces, one pink one lavender.

I painted the door shapes, and in the image after that you can see the windows added. I used charcoal to outline the shapes in a primitive style.

Windows and doors, art house tutorial.
Windows and doors added with paint and charcoal.

To seal the charcoal, which can be messy if not sealed, I used a spray varnish. It’s best to spray them outside because the fumes are wicked. I let the houses dry outside as well.

Drilled holes, art house tutorial
Drilled holes for birds

I then drilled the holes for the tiny birds I’d made as an embellishment on the roof. Whimsical touch… 🙂

Whimsical birds for the house roofs, tutorial.
Whimsical birds for the house roofs

I painted the houses the same colors on the back as on the front. The edges got a contrasting color.

Jazzed up the front with banners, art house tutorial.
Jazzed up the front with banners

When I make polymer clay tiles for my mosaics, I usually make some extra cut-outs. I use cookie cutters for these shapes, bake them, and paint them. They make cute banners! I also glued some flowers at the bottom on the pink house. I varnished the back and the edges with gloss varnish. The shine brings out the colors nicely.

Finished houses, art tutorial
Finished houses!
Birds glued to the edges, art house tutorial
Birds on the edges

I used super glue to attach the steel wire to the birds and the houses. They will stay in for a long time! 🙂

Below is another example of a green house.

Finished art house, art tutorial
Finished art house

Now I have to make more stars and pennants. I used them all in these projects.

Wood shapes are great because you can make so much with them. If you read my blog you know I like to combine wood and polymer clay. One of my most cherished sellers is the angel with a message.

Angel with a message
Angel with a message

What gets your imagination going?

I get my inspiration from actually making stuff. One thing leads to another, new ideas pop up as I’m in the middle of the process. Most of them are good ideas that can be realized without too much pain. I also get inspiration from other artists on Instagram and Pinterest.

Don’t let fear stop you from experimenting. The figure below is my latest experimentation. I have a hard time sculpting faces, but I decided to use a face mold that I proceeded to alter. However, I keep working on my skills; it’s the only way to master a new technique.

Bettina, the circus acrobat on her day off

I wish you lots of inspiration! Try something new today. 🙂

Lots of love,

Maria

Passion and Perseverance

Passion is, of course, important in anything that you do on a regular basis. I find it can be cultivated. In my art practice, my passion has grown over time. At first, I felt an urge to create, a feeling deep inside that insisted on being acknowledged. I’ve had that urge all my life.

Things happen and you get away from the urge calling you, but it never quite goes away. That is your soul calling; do something you enjoy in life, it says, don’t be a drone and waste your life.

As I listened to the calling within, I knew I had to take action, consistently. The more action I take, the more my passion grows. It’s that simple. That is the perseverance part.

The trick is to take action. If you don’t, your creativity won’t have a chance to mature, like an apple on the tree. It’s so important to heed that calling within. Some people create ten minutes a day and find their creativity blossoming.

Whatever form your creative urge takes, give it a wholehearted try, and your life will transform, if you’re persistent enough. The universe loves action takers! 🙂

I was busy in October. I made many polymer clay mosaics, all the time trying to stretch my imagination to keep them fresh. I painted some original art, but the resistance in that area was massive this month. Where there is resistance there is an opportunity for growth!

Passion, an abstract dog?
Abstract dog

I created a mixture of paintings and mosaics, and my bestseller the spirit doll faces.

Spirit doll clay face
Spirit doll face

Passion always wants an outlet, what is yours?

I enjoy what I can make with the spirit doll faces, and I also like to share them with others since a handmade doll can be very healing. Any craft is healing in my opinion. You make it and you can enjoy the results.

I have three paintings I need to finish. I decided to upload my “Aliens among us” painting even though I wasn’t sure if it was complete. When nothing more comes, I judge it finished, BUT new ideas might come along later, things to add, things to paint over.

Passion is daring to trust the process…

Abstract outsider painting

Last but not least, my mini shrine with a sweet angel.

You are loved!

angel shrine

Have a great Halloween! I wish you lots of time to create also. 🙂

“I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by me.”

Charles Fillmore

Love, Maria

Gold dust makes everything better!

Gold dust comes in many forms, but in this case, I’m referring to the stuff that comes in a plastic tube purchased at Michael’s. I don’t use it often, but I wanted something special for this latest “book” box I made this weekend.

I spread some gloss medium over the surface and sprinkled the dust while chanting “abracadabra.” (Kidding)

Too bad you can barely see the twinkles in the pictures. I tried from many angles.

gold dust sprinkles
Gold dust aside, I went for a mature setting.

There are many layers as you can see, and lots of texture.

Lately, I have been stretching my imagination to make different things, using some of my mosaic tiles, but trying other types of layers. I have a pretty extensive collection of ephemera that I gathered over the years.

It has not been easy

I struggle with new ideas all the time, and often I feel stymied, either for lack of tools, but more often fighting myself and doubting that the piece will turn out well. It’s a constant challenge to try to picture what the finished product will look like, and I have to trust the process and just do it.

I’m used to the struggle, and in that, there is a blessing. By showing up in the studio regularly, I have learned to ignore my doubts. In other words, the trust muscle keeps growing the more I show up to create.

I don’t always like what I make, but I’m kinder to myself than I used to be.

A tip for you: When you see pictures you like, cut them out and save them for later.

I’m always on the lookout for new fodder, and I keep them in storage bins from the craft store. I sometimes (always) forget what I have, so I have to rummage through every time.

Last month I made a bunch of shrines out of old Altoids tins. I have made more mosaics this month. Here are some examples:

gold dust shines on this shrine
Gold in this one too, but the style is new to me.
shrine in a wooden box
Virgin Mary shrine — small wooden box.
Shrine plaque
Virgin Mary wall plaque
Virgin Mary shrine
Virgin Mary and child shrine
Seascape dolphin wall plaque
Seascape dolphin wall plaque

Talk about being out of my comfort zone

The seascape plaque above was wholly out of my comfort zone, but I decided to do something with waves and stay with the blue/green range of color when I made it. All I had was a wooden plaque and a cutout of a dolphin.

It was a bear to cut out the polymer clay and make sure the pieces fit the heart and butted up correctly to the other waves. It came out okay, maybe a bit lame. I like to make some kind of statement with my art, but this will remain pretty and nothing else. 🙂

What are you working on now? I hope you got some creativity buzz this weekend, but if you didn’t, there is always TODAY.

The struggle is real, but so is commitment. Art making is a happy addiction. It sure beats most other things, including chocolate.

All the above pieces are available in my Etsy shop, Earth and Faery.

Have a great week!

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. If you need some more inspiration, check out the Instagram artist feeds. There are some fantastic makers out there. My username is @greeneearth if you want to connect.

If you missed my previous post on how to make one of these mixed-media “book” boxes, check this out: Magic Journal Box Tutorial.