The fresh turn of the calendar is a wonderful way to assess our creative projects, gifts, and skills while considering what new avenues may be opening to us in the new year.
Some years I start the year with a mind to continue the road I am going, steadfast and onward focused. Other years I am prepared with a fresh list of creative ideas and projects I'm ready to start running with.
But not this year.
This year I neither had the desire to keep going with the "same thing, same way" attitude, but neither was I ready with a list of new things I knew I wanted to pursue. I felt as if I was in a bit of a transition period, but I didn't know what I was transitioning from or to!!!
The years have taught me that when this happens, it's best to ease into the next season with thoughtfulness and simple practices, not to try to power through with intimidating to-do lists.
If you are like me this year and feel as if you are in a transition period of some sort, here are some things that might be helpful to this phase.
Clean Up the Creative Space
I'd had my "creative mess" space for the holidays. I knew it needed to get cleaned up. It was time to put all the holiday creativity away until later this year and clean up the desks and spaces for new projects.
Also, there is something terribly helpful about a good clean-up, isn't there? I love coming into my creative space and having a fresh place ready to create! It feels refreshing.
Organizing the creative mess allows my imagination to begin to percolate as I arrange paper, paint, magazine bits, books, brushes, and all the other odds and ends in the space. The excitement of creating something new begins to unfold again.
Let Go of Old Projects, Art, Sketchbooks, etc
A disclaimer – I am not a minimalist.
I don't get rid of anything that doesn't "spark joy." There is value in holding on to certain things I will use again in projects, in art from the past, in books and tools that have been guideposts and continue to help in different seasons. There is a joy in repurposing and reusing things.
But there does comes a time when it is more helpful to let go and do a "spring cleaning" than to hold on.
This month, letting go has been very valuable. It was as if I had a fresh realizing of what I didn't need or want anymore. I think in my willingness to move forward something in me realized it would be helpful to let go of some things.
For me, the things I was letting go of included old sketchbooks and practice paintings, magazines I'd used for scrapbooking/journaling, even an old collection of paintings that hadn't sold and I didn't particularly care for.
Some things go into giveaways and others go into the recycling or trash bin. It was a relief to see a cleaner, more streamlined space.
Finish Unfinished Projects
I had a few projects that were 90% completed. It only took a little bit of effort to finish and share them.
One project was re-publishing one of the first YouTube videos I'd shared back in 2020. The "Field of Flowers" had been uploaded with about 2 minutes of the end cut off! I needed to merge the videos, create a new intro, and re-publish it, take a few more photos, etc.
Not a big deal and it felt good to follow up on the requests for this. You can watch the video below.
Another project was to finish up my photo journal for 2021. That took several hours, but it was worth it. Finishing the photo journal and adding in my written thoughts brought a closure to the past year that had been hard for me to find.
Now that I have cleaned, organized, let go of, and finished up unfinished projects, I start with simple and fresh projects.
Nothing too big. Nothing too complex. I am still working things out in my heart and in my head. It feels like ideas are percolating, but they aren't quite ready to share themselves with me yet.
In the meantime, I paint what is in front of me.
The cheerful bunch of daisies from my grandma's garden (still blooming in January, how is that possible?).
The bouquet of roses from the grocery store.
Gentle meadow scenes inspired by the colors on my daily walks on the river trail.
Quiet, simple watercolor sketches.
I pull out the gesso to create a different medium to paint. Cut up different sizes of paper. Find stamps from years past (thanks to my cleaning deep dive) and incorporate them into sketches. Think. Watch. Play.