Category: artist

How to foster creativity when stressed or under pressure

blond woman looking stressed and under pressure

Do stress and deadline pressures have your creativity freezing up? Let me share six tips that fostered my creativity and got me back to my studio to start painting and having fun again. I hope that will work for you too.

The dilemma of the creative process (for me) is that I impose pressure on myself to make impressive, or at least good, artwork. I worry my paintings must be meaningful and pleasing, and if they aren’t, then self-doubt, fear and discouragement paralyze me from working. This self-reposed pressure was putting a lot of stress on my creativity and keeping me from painting. I needed to adjust my thinking and art practice to break this negative cycle and get me back to the joy of making art.

botanical collage paintings by Kathy Ferguson Art

In many ways, the COVID quarantine has been a positive experience for me. When the virus rates escalated in New York City almost overnight, there was speculation that Manhattan would close its borders and travel outside the borough would be restricted. The thought of getting trapped in a city had me fleeing that very day to Florida with nary an art supply in my suitcase. With no upcoming shows or commissions to finish, and few supplies to work with, I decided to let my self-imposed pressure go and just play around with the limited materials I had available (acrylics and junk mail).

I started small, making simple 6″ x 6″ painted collages. Working on up to 12 paintings at a time, I skipped around between them when I got stuck. I let myself step back and make work that didn’t need to be good. And you know what happened? My creativity came back. I was excited to go to my studio every day and see what would happen next. After finishing forty-two of these “Tidbits” paintings, I was ready to move on to something more substantial.

 

Mounting blue and white collage works on cradled wood panels

Are you feeling stressed or just unmotivated?

First, take a minute to decide how you are really feeling? Are you stressed because your kids are constantly interrupting your workflow, and you have a gallery exhibit coming up that you’re not close to ready for it? Or is it that you are feeling uninspired and lacking in motivation? For these who just need some inspiration, read my advice 7 tips I use to foster creativity when feeling unmotivated to get you up and running again.  The rest of you, keep reading.

6 tips to spark creativity when pressure is weighing you down

So the next time you’re stressed or under pressure, try these other ideas to spark your inspiration and creativity.

Stop forcing creativity

First, stop trying to “make yourself” come up with something creative. Instead of telling yourself, “I must make something great now,” instead let yourself “play around with some ideas.” You need to feel in a safe space of non-judgment and expectation to be open creatively.

Take a break from the problem

Step away for the problem and let your sub-conscience work while you go for a walk, bake a cake, or fold the laundry. The less these activities use your mind, the more available it will be to create new solutions.

illustration of blond girl making a smoothie

Focus on a single idea

While doing one of these activities, do a little brainstorming on a single idea. Go deep and think of every good, bad, and weird idea that you can. Don’t critique these ideas; you are going for quantity. Give your thoughts some space to roam and let creativity work its magic. Breaking it down into small steps will help you chip away at the problem.

Go get inspiration on Pinterest

Are you still stuck? Try looking at other people’s work. I’m not suggesting copying them, but sometimes seeing what others have done will trigger new ideas or approaches to your problem.  

Reach out to another artistic business owner

You don’t have to go it alone. Why not collaborate with another? You can pick their brain or work together. The process of talking through ideas can stimulate new thoughts and take you in a new direction.

Creativity takes time

If all else fails, perhaps you just need time. Give yourself time to mull on it. Studies show that the brain continues working while you’re asleep. A good night’s sleep will do you good. I often wake up the morning after with the answer just waiting for me.

Get more great creativity tips by signing up for my monthly newsletter HERE.

 

 

Summer is in full bloom with digitally painted watercolor flowers

Watercolor painting of Purple Irises using Procreate app

One of the ways I’ve been tolerating the COVID quarantine is by hanging out in my garden.  I love all the colorful flowers that pop up in the spring and summer.  I thought I’d try my hand at painting them in watercolor but with a twist.  Instead, I grabbed my iPad Pro and Apple pencil and taught myself to sketch and paint them using the app Procreate.

Digital Watercolor Flower Paintings

Watercolor painting of California poppies

 

I started with some California poppies.  I grew up in California, and they have always been a favorite of mine. Their happy orange faces make me smile.  I was disappointed that the digital watercolor brushes that came with Procreate didn’t give me very realistic watercolor edges and blending.

 

Watercolor painting of green leaves using Procreate app

 

So I did some research and found a fantastic set of digital brushes, The Watercolor MaxPack (for Procreate) by Max Ulichney. He’s a genius. I’ve posted a sample of a few of the marks I can make with this set ($25 at GumRoad.com). I’m especially impressed with the watercolor bloom and the waxy colored pencil.

 

Watercolor MaxPack (for Procreate) by Max Ulichney sample sheet

 

The iris watercolor painting was next. This painting was better but still didn’t look like an actual watercolor. My final picture was the leaves, and I can see even more progress. 

I look forward to painting some more botanical ink & watercolor sketches with Procreate.  If you have an iPad, you should give it a try.  Procreate is only $9.99 for a one time purchase.  They even have a Procreate Pocket version for your iPhone for $4.99.

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Checking in on you. Are you safe and healthy?

I am writing to check-in and see how everyone is faring in their remote corners of the globe, and hoping that you are safe and well.

I’m currently sheltering in Florida with my hubby, where I’m fortunate to be able to walk and bike outside. I fill my days with art-making, cooking, reading, and enjoying game nights with friends and family (via Zoom).

As the situation has me unable to truly focus, I’m making a little bit of everything. In my studio, I have half-finished oil paintings, acrylic doodles, watercolor sketches, and cold-wax experiments. While they patiently wait for me to get back to them, I am happy to share at least one completed effort here.

There is a lot of disparity of quarantine experiences across the world, and I am genuinely grateful that we are one of the lucky families in these uncertain times. Those of you are doing essential services, you are the true heroes. You have not gone unnoticed, and we cannot thank you enough for your courage and commitment to others. Thank you.

"Art On Paper" Exhibition in NYC

File Mar 05, 6 33 04 PM
Tomas Vu, mixed media on wood panel

It was a big art week in New York City.  Ok, there is generally dozens of art exhibitions every week in the Big Apple, but this week featured some of the biggest art fairs of the year with the Armory Show at Pier 92/94 and the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side.  Additionally, one show you might not know is the “Art on Paper” art fair down on Pier 36.  I headed down to the Lower East Side to check it out.  As an artist who uses collage paper in her work, I have a special love for art created on paper and/or with paper.  This exhibition didn’t disappoint.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces from this year’s show.

abstract
Thomas McNickel, oil on paper
couple
Mersuka Dopazo and Teresa Calderon, mixed media on canvas

Henry Jackson, mixed media on paper

yupo
Riitta Klint, Collaged Yupo paper
rex ray
Rex Ray, Lithograph of 18 colors

A hot and cold time in New York City

Before

Atlantic Gallery Show1

After

Atlantic Gallery blog2 copy

 

Last Thursday night, it was a whooping 8 degree Fahrenheit in New York City.  But that didn’t stop the art lovers from turning out to attend the Atlantic Gallery’s “Over the Bridge” exhibition in Chelsea.  I was fortunate to have two paintings in this show, along with 38 other Long Island City artists.  The wine was flowing, the crowd was enthusiastic and the art was excellent.  I’ve included photographs of that night “before” and “during” the  opening to show you the crush.  There is still plenty of time to see the exhibition on display until January 17th at Atlantic Gallery, Suite 540, 548 West 28th Street, New York City.

Watch me make a painting – Step 3

In my last post, I started a new “vine” painting and showed you the first two steps.  Today, we move to step 3.  To complete the “under-painting”, I added lots of pieces of colored paper to the panel.  I kept the colors bright and bold, weaving and overlapping them to create a surface of bold color and heavy texture.  I added several more layers of paper over these initial paper layers shown below.  All of the paper was coated with acrylic medium on both sides to glue it to the surface and protect the surface.  It looks like a hot mess now, doesn’t it?!  Step 4 will be posted tomorrow, and you’ll see how I resolve all of this random color into a coherent design.

Vine Revealed step 3

My art is in MoMA!

MoMA PS1 Studio Visit

Okay, that a huge exaggeration. However, I am showcased in MoMA’s PS1 Studio Visit. This is a web initiative by MoMA that offers virtual presentations of artists’ studios. Emerging artists working in the five boroughs and greater New York area are invited to upload video or still images of their studios and work. Artists’ submissions will be present on the website for at least one month.  Studio Visit serves as an online artistic hub and give viewers a look at some exciting new work while examining the varied artistic practices located within the New York City area.  Come check it out at http://momaps1.org/studio-visit/

Inside Studio