Keeping It Simple

There are some who seem to think that being creative is all about expensive materials and complicated techniques, and this becomes an excuse for many people to stay stuck in their creative ruts. When faced with the expense of materials or the intricacies of the process, it’s easy to say, “Why bother!”

Creativity, though, has never been about materials. It’s about ideas - specifically about having new ideas that have value, and we don’t need a special kind of paint, or the latest stencils, or that expensive acrylic medium to have these ideas. Actually, limiting ourselves to simple, inexpensive materials is a great way to push our creativity and develop new ideas.

By keeping it simple and keeping things cheap, we can feel more open to playing, experimenting, and trying new things because we don’t feel like we’re wasting our precious materials, and when we open ourselves to the possibilities of exploration and creative play, we can discover new ideas for how to use these materials.

This type of play and openness are the keys to unlocking creativity, not brand new materials and following someone’s recipe for how to use them. Too often, when we shell out big bucks for new materials or new equipment, we feel too much pressure. We might not want to waste our new paint, or we might feel that we won’t make something worthy. It then becomes too easy to make excuses and not push ourselves or our work, and then we shut down our creativity and close ourselves off to the possibilities.

Creativity is a way of thinking and making connections. By wondering, “What if…?” or “What would happen…?” we begin the process of trying different things. We build off our experiences and construct new ideas. It’s hard to do that when we’re worried about messing up and wasting our supplies.

Of course I’m not saying that we should never buy expensive materials or try those complex techniques, but if we develop our creative confidence first, we might find that we are more prepared to handle these new supplies or we may find that we don’t need them at all.

All of the images in this post have been simple, watercolor layering experiments on 6”x8” mixed media paper just to see what would happen. I have no idea where they're going, but I have been having fun with them.