I know there are a lot of other Calvin students like me who can relate to this artistic struggle of wanting to be at your peak of production, but finding yourself in your worst drought. It’s hard to go from the extreme of constantly having exciting art projects to finish for class to now having three finals and a paper consuming your time. Although painting and drawing is something that I wish I had more time for, I have found that there are small ways in which you can keep a continual flow of creativity in your busy life. This is one of the reasons why going into my sophomore year, when I realized I would be taking zero painting or drawing classes both semesters, I desperately searched for an outlet to be a part of. I applied to be on Dialogue’s staff in hopes that being in a creative environment with other artists would get my artistic juices flowing. Besides being a staff member, there are some more small ways that I stay in a creative mindset even during my busiest of weeks.
Perhaps the smallest but most fun way I keep ideas flowing is doodling in class. Now, from an academic standpoint, this probably isn’t the best advice. However, I have found some of my best concept ideas for a painting or drawing to come from my class notes. My mind just starts to wander during a lecture and I often begin to practice drawing portraits without reference, which then turn into elaborate full-page doodles of flowers and outer space and swirling hair. I have found that this tactic can be very helpful during a drought because even though you’re not really creating anything serious or with substance, at least you’re creating.
Finding a favorite art blog, website, magazine etc. is a huge way to stay up to date with not only what is going on in the art community but keeping a flow of ideas in your head. This is one that I wish I did more often because I find that looking at other contemporary artist’s work in today’s age can be extremely beneficial in your own process. Some of my favorites are Juxtapoz Magazine or The Jealous Curator blog. The Jealous Curator is my ultimate favorite because the author posts such an abundance of different types of pieces that are worthy of any artist’ envy. All the artists when features in her blog are also super relevant and involved in the art community right now, so it’s just cool to be looking at contemporary art in our day and age.
One of the most influential platforms in my life, and probably a lot of other college students, is social media. I have found that it’s so important to fill your feed with other artists works just so that you are exposed to them throughout your scrolling time. My favorite thing to do when I want to get into the artistic mood is just to go find my followed artists accounts and just stalk everything. Going back to their past works and seeing how they have grown or just how they work and analyzing their unique style is always beneficial. Some of my favorite artists on Instagram to follow are Ruth Speer, Jen Mann, and Rik Lee. These are all mainly portrait artists with a twist, which is what I like to paint and my favorite kind of art to look at everyday on my feed.
Everyone has a different creative process, and some tactics are more beneficial than others. These are just a few ways that I personally maintain my “I’m in the mood to paint” mindset while I have no time or really no solid ideas. All I know is being in a drought sucks, and trying to stay artistic when you don’t have time for art classes also sucks. We just got to get through it together as fellow Calvin art students and encourage creative cultivation.