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Online Challenges: Jump Starting a Daily Creative Practice

Gratitude Journal


Okay, I know when you read that heading, you scratched your head and said, “yeah right, a DAILY practice?  You are out of your mind.”  I might be, but I bet I’m not.

As a busy professional, it is has not been easy for me to keep up with my own creative practice.  At times, I would longingly look to my studio space and feel guilty for neglecting it…after all that is what it is there for right?

How could I possibly fit one more thing in a day that is packed with meetings, appointments, social activities, gym work outs, family, pet duties…the list goes on and on….art will be there when it all “settles” down.  The sad thing is…you and I both know that it doesn’t tend to settle down (if you are anything like me, it tends to revive up even more!).

One way I found that has been very helpful for me is online creative challenges.  This keeps my mojo flowing, allows me to experiment with different mediums and at I would not normally focus on in my own art practice.  A few years back, I started with  Art Everyday Month, a 30 day challenge started by artist Leah  Kolidasthat occurs every November that encourages you to create something, anything, related to a daily prompt.  If you scroll through this blog, you will see some of the creations I made with this challenge.

One that I started last year (unfortunately did not finish) was Spectrum facilitated by Hali Karla Arts  which not only challenges you to create on a regular basis, but you get to “sample” a variety of artists from across the country in various modules focusing on self development.  I have benefitted greatly from these kinds of challenges because I explore who I am and new mediums in the process.

HeArt Space facilitated by art therapist, Kate Leppard is another one of my favorites.  It is an ongoing creative challenge with different topics each month to spur your artistic practice.

The additional benefit is that most of these challenges create community….a commnity of like-minded artists and creatives that are working through the challenge with you.  I have made many friends and colleagues through the process since all of them include a private Facebook group to show your work or even at times vent about your creative process.

There are virtually 30-day or daily practice challenge in just about every creative field, whether it is writing, poetry, culinary arts, etc. you name it.  A google search on any of these topics with “daily challenge” or 30 day challenge will open you to a world of other creatives and can help jump start your practice.  There is nothing like seeing how others are juggling careers, kids, etc. and posting every day of their progress with a challenge.  If they can do it, you can too!

Lately, I felt that I needed to do a daily practice around the topic of gratitude.  I was bringing more attention to what others were doing and my challenges and I felt I needed to ground myself on all the magic Sharon has going on her own life and celebrate it.  I started off considering a written journal of the 3-5 things I was grateful for each day….however, I wasn’t motivated to write anything or would forget.   Enter the 30 Days of Creative Gratitude Challenge  (my journal cover above).

Artist, Priscilla George has this 30 day creative challenge complete with the Facebook Group and daily prompts focusing us to concentrate on things we take for granted as subjects for our art journaling practice.  I don’t do every prompt every day, but I do find that I am creating space not only for my art practice but to focus on the prompts as a way to feel gratitude for the everyday things that matter.

What creative challenges have your tried?  How have they enriched your creative life?


Reflections on 2012


As I reflected on this year, I was at a loss as to go about explaining how this year went and of course, faced a blog I had not posted on in over six months!

Artistically, I faced an entire year of being blocked from my creativity….something that happens to artists at times.  This was a bit long for me.  It wasn’t because I lacked ideas or materials….I think it was a form of the grieving process that I manifested as a result of the death of my father in 2011.  I would just not feel like hitting the “lab” to do anything!

I dedicated this blog to featuring my own art and what I have been doing in the arts in general.  I did not share that I spent this past year focused on my other artistic passion, or my activities with related organizations, which I promise to do better in the future!
One of the most profound books I read this year was The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte.  It’s an awesome book for creatives to boldly move forward toward your goals.  As I thought through this end of the year post, a fellow creative, Bessie Akuba posted this wonderful end of the year blog using Danielle’s Glory Board to share her year’s accomplishments as a guide.   I thought it was a cool idea and decided to use it to share my thoughts for the year.

Here goes a partial list that I will share:

Inspired:  I was inspired by the launch of my twin sister and fellow artist new book having watched all that she went through to get it out.  It was an inspirational moment to see her dream come to fruition. Through my work with my other new venture, I received feedback from many people that are inspired to start collecting original art.  I am thrilled about this.
Traveled: I did a lot of traveling this year.  My favorite place to have spent time was New York City.  Seeing exhibitions and attending art events and classes inspired me to start creating work again as well as to learn more about the art business in general.  I also enjoyed my time at Akwaaba in Cape May, New Jersey for a brief respite from the day to day in the DMV!
Sold:  Despite this being a rather unproductive year for creating new work and participating in exhibitions, I did sell a couple of artworks through auction fundraisers, which is always a good thing!
Bought:  Well of course…..Art!  I added to my personal collection with two additional original works which I’m proud of!
Gave:  I volunteered and gave a lot of my personal time through activities as a new board member of the Millennium Arts Salon and with my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  I have treasured the time spent planning and executing many art, social media and  community projects with wonderful people who have become friends.  I also donated art and money to causes that I care about.
Motivated:  I had tried to stay away from providing art consulting to artists for personal reasons.  However, two dear friends who retired from the federal government were interested in jump starting their visual art careers came to me for advice on a variety of art related stuff.  So pro-bono, I have been working with them to help them prepare for exhibitions and organize their work.  I have received so much feedback from both, learning how my help have motivated one in particular to become a more serious artist.
Discovered: I have tried several times during the last few years to adopt a pet and for various reasons, it did not work out.  At least not until this Fall, when I discovered and fell in love with a buff and cream, marble patterned tabby cat named Simba.  For some reason, this little male kitten has made me re-discover the joys of being a pet parent and has contributed so much to my little household!

There were other accomplishments as well.  There were disappointments, sadness and WTF moments as well. I had to make some changes and adjustments to my inner circle versus my professional circle and that meant that some people had to be relocated based on changes in our relationship.   It doesn’t do much for anyone to re-hash that stuff here, but I am learning from it and do what I can to live up to my 2013 theme which is now Forward Abundance.  Let it flow!

As usual, I end each year with a “song” that kind of sums up my thoughts and feelings going into the new year.  I was in Starbucks recently and heard this song by Carrie Newsome entitled Breathe.  It really spoke to me and decided to include it here.
Best wishes for an awesome 2013….!