Artist Pat Fiorello shares 10 ways she jumpstarts creativity ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Recharge Your Creative Batteries

By Pat Fiorello

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Guest columnist Pat Fiorello paints vibrant and energetic realism.

"Your energy shows up on the canvas. If you are in a negative state, that energy will show up on the canvas. If you feel good and relaxed that will show up too."

 ~ Pat Fiorello

Pat Fiorello continues our series of guest columns on jumpstarting creativity with down-to-earth advice from more than 25 years at the easel.

10 Ways I Recharge My Creative Batteries

If you’ve been painting for any length of time, you know it’s natural to go through periods of great energy and inspiration and other times where you just don’t know feel like creating.

For the more than 25 years I’ve been painting, I’ve been fortunate to mostly have been excited to get in the studio and paint, but there have been times where I lose my enthusiasm, focus or direction.  Often a dry period becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the longer it goes on the more you resist getting back to making art. Earlier this year, I had a home renovation project which prevented access to my studio, so I didn’t paint for over a month. With that kind of hiatus, it’s easy to get in your head and think you have forgotten everything you know. You almost have to "re-boot" your artistic spirit.

Pat Fiorello, Peony from my Garden

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In case you experienced these "dry spells", I thought I’d share a few things I do to get my creative juices flowing again. I mainly paint florals, still life and landscapes, but these tips could be adapted for any creative work.

1. Have Inspiration Pre-screened and Ready to Go

I take tons of photos (60,000+) and keep them organized on my computer in folders by trip, location, or topic. I preselect, those that speak to me the most. For example, I just got back from teaching a painting workshop in Sicily, so on the plane I went through the photos and marked those photos I immediately had an emotional reaction and put them in a separate folder "Sicily favorites". This way when I’m at a loss of what to paint next, I know there are references that lit a spark and I’m sure to find something exciting already pre-screened there. I also have a general file name "Paint Next", where I store images I love, and don’t want to forget about. If I don’t know what to paint, I’ll go there and find something I love.

2. Consume Beauty

My aim as an artist is to create and share Beauty. But Beauty also sources me. If I’m feeling low on inspiration, I will go to books and magazines filled with "eye candy". I keep many coffee table books around with colorful luscious photography of flowers, home décor, nature etc… that fill me up.  I am not looking for reference material in these books, but just feeding my own soul with Beauty. Going to beautiful places, like the botanical garden can also be uplifting and energizing.

Still life with roses by Pat Fiorello

3. Let Other Artists Inspire You

Often just looking at the work of other artists I admire is enough to recharge my batteries. I have a folder of images I keep on my computer called "Exquisite Art". They are favorite images of paintings by other artists, both past masters and contemporary artists, that really touch me.  Looking at those paintings put me in a dreamy, "feel good" place and can have me longing to paint once again.

4. Be Unattached, Start Small

Over a short period, like a week, I’ll set a goal to do 5-7 small 6" x 8" studies. These are just ideas, no attachment to the outcome, not finished work for anyone but me to see. Not all of them will be great, but in the process, there may be one or 2 that are worthy of being translated to a larger finished piece.

5. Do Something Easy

At times when I’ve felt stopped or perhaps overwhelmed by a difficult painting, I take a   break and go back to paint something familiar or simple. That gives me a feeling of success and a jolt of confidence again that gets me beyond my frustration.

Pat Fiorello, A Few of My Favorite Things

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6. Learn

I will use a dry spell as a chance to learn something new.  I remind myself of a painting    skill I’ve been wanting to develop and dwell in that. Learning is energizing. I’ll find books or videos on that topic and immerse myself in that. Nothing makes me want to paint more than a video where I see someone else painting. "Hey, I want to do that too!"

7. Just Do It!

You may think you are blocked, but maybe that’s just the voice in your head.  You made it up, so let it go It’s not the truth. To avoid failing or not being perfect, we sometimes procrastinate. In the words of Picasso, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working".  Once you get brush to canvas, you might very well get reconnected with your passion and the joy of creating.

8. Rest

On the other hand, it’s okay to take a break if you need it. If I’m upset or in a bad mood, I do not force myself to paint.  Your energy shows up on the canvas. If you are in a negative state, that energy will show up on the canvas. If you feel good and relaxed that will show up too. So see if you can identify what’s bothering you and deal with that.  Then get to a balanced state where you can paint with freedom and ease.  And sometimes you just need a break as an "incubation" period for ideas to be planted and sprout, so be patient and kind to yourself.

9. Find New Inspiration

If I’m stuck, I will go shopping for beautiful flowers. It might be just at the grocery store, or if I go to the flower wholesaler, I can go in their refrigerated case with tons of flower choices all arranged by color. I’m like a kid in a candy shop. Or I might search on-line for a great new piece of pottery of other still life prop. Or if you do the figure, maybe a new model or new costume.  Even getting some new art supplies to play and experiment with can be enlivening.

Pat Fiorello, Daisy Impressions

10. Acknowledge Yourself

Look over some of your own favorite paintings (I keep a folder of "My Favorites" on my computer) to remind yourself of the joy you had creating those paintings. Acknowledge how far you’ve come in your own development as an artist from where you first started.  Sometimes we are so focused on the next painting that we skip over the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate our own successes and growth.

Finally, don’t think of a slow period as "something’s wrong". It’s a natural part of the creative cycle.  But maybe some of the tips I’ve outlined here will help get you back to creating a little bit quicker!

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