In a broad sense, being creative is an enjoyable thing. When it bubbles up, we make things exist that never did before. Whether they’re stitches or stories, photos or flowers, paintings or pictures, scrapbooks or stationery, or anything in between, there’s subtle and sincere satisfaction to creative activities that many of us love.
Creativity is, however, a tender plant that requires some form of attention and nurturing. Thankfully, it can never die completely, and even the smallest drops of nourishment can bring it back from the brink in a flash. Sometimes, when neglected for some time, it can subconsciously stifle our desire or propensity for creative activities, even the ones we once loved and partook in often.
There are a few simple things like doodling and coloring that, while they may seem unimportant or unrelated, can really bring the life back to your “creative plant” as it were; and help it continue to grow and bloom into a fantastic springtime display.
The beauty of doodling and coloring lie in the lack or forethought or actual inspiration that it takes to get going. For a quilt or a flower arrangement, you usually need some idea ahead of time — some sort of lurking image or hunch to start moving forward. With doodling, you might just be a little bored, a little stuck, a little whimsical; and then you start drawing shapes and lines and squiggles on a post-it note or on the margin of a piece of paper. It grows absentmindedly, and you find yourself creating effortlessly and almost pointlessly. The only point of it is that you like creating things.
Coloring is the same concept. The patterns and images are laid out for you on the paper, and all you have to do is pick out a few colors and start placing them however you’d like. Unlike a needlepoint garden scene or a well-written short story, it’s impossible to do this wrong. Place colors haphazardly or systematically – enjoy the feeling of the pencil or the marker going across the paper – and before you know it, you’re creating something.
The end result for both of these activities is of secondary importance to actually doing them. Often the end result will look interesting or beautiful; but we do them because we enjoy the very process of creating, with the wonderful side effect of inspiring ourselves. These activities are a great way to get the creative juices flowing and to tap into the other ideas and creative visions we have lurking beneath the surface. It’s subtle, but it works. It may be something specific about how an absentminded pattern or collection of curves are laid out while doodling, or an assemblage of colors and tones that are rippling through the lines of a coloring book. Or it may be something more vague, such as a creative feeling you get while drawing and coloring, or an amazing idea for a new project or picture.
You’ll then have something to work with, to move forward on. And as you keep creating, you’ll keep inspiring yourself. But that’s the key: you’ve got to keep watering that visionary plant – in big or little ways – to keep the creative juices flowing. Doodling, coloring, sketching, and other simple activities like these that don’t take much preparation or inspiration are the perfect Miracle-Gro, as it were.
Peter Deligdisch is the illustrator of Color Me Crazy: Insanely Detailed Creations to Challenge Your Skills and Blow Your Mind (Perigee; on sale July 7, 2015). Peter lives in Chicago and you can find him at PeterDraws.com.