How To Get Your Creative Groove Back

I’m a creative person, I suppose, but it’s easy to lose sight of that, at times. I have a job that allows for some creative thinking, which is great, although sometimes it reminds me of a crouching cat, licking the cream of imagination off the top of my brain and leaving me with skim milk–blue john–for my own use on my own time.*

Anyway, another interesting thing about creativity is that it also resembles a good, deep well: there are times when you draw off too much, but if you wait a little while, it wells up again and you can get on with things.

In 2005, I spent two weeks near Bordeaux, France, at a watercolor workshop with Asheville artist Ann Vasilik. I was not (and I’m still not!) very accomplished with watercolors, but it was a lovely trip, nonetheless, and a great pleasure to learn a few things from Ann, whose work I admire very much. We visited five or six small towns in the area and had an opportunity to paint local scenes along with Ann as well as explore the towns themselves. That experience, of course, deserves its own series of posts, which I hope to get to…someday.

A watercolor of rolled hay bales in the late afternoon sun...

When I got home, I thought I’d be inspired to keep painting, but I closed up my easel and stuck it under the bed to get it out of the way, and it didn’t see the light of day again for the next six years. Lawsy!

Last Saturday, I pulled out the easel on a whim, dusted it off, and set it up on  my front porch. It looked quite handsome there, if a bit lonely:

My easel, still in great shape, after six years in exile under my bed!

 So I added a sketch of Teddy that I’d done the night before (with a nearly-dried-up fabric paint pen, because I’m always lacking in the correct tool or supply that I’d like to have, so I use what’s close at hand) :

A hairy little sketch of my hairy little hound!

Next, I rooted through my house and my dubious-mostly-also-dried-up stock of paints for something that would work. I found a pint of blue acrylic enamel and a handful of acrylic craft paints that still had a little life in them and set to work. (My other favorite tools are a Bojangle’s dirty rice cup to hold water and a disposable pie tin for a palette. )  So armed, I began to “rough-in” the sketch of Teddy, working the background (very creative blue swirls, reminiscient of water rings on a tabletop) in behind his funky fur:

Teddy all "roughed-in" and looking a little roughed-up, too!

It was a little challenging to find a way to bring out Teddy’s features without just having them fade to black–he has a good bit of white in his coat, but I wanted to show his face without resorting to white outlines. Lucky for me, he has a very red tint to his eyebrows and moustache–especially when he’s in the sun–so I used a reddish-copper metallic craft paint to bring out the hint of ginger in his otherwise black coat:

Teddy: Portrait of a Bad Little Dog!

What fun to spend time capturing my little Tedward on canvas–and what a nice way to get my creative groove back…at least for one summer Saturday!

*Yes, I know the good ol’ Urban Dictionary, in all their vulgar glory, lists a secondary meaning for this term, but that’s hardly the definition I have in mind, so don’t bother to comment on it if you can help yourself!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I love it. I think this is truly one of your best. Wow, has it been six years?

  2. ltbrwnhare says:


    Six years in July, I think. Time really does fly, whether or not you’re having any fun–and though I certainly have been enjoying life, it slips away (along with youth and collagen and all the others things we once took for granted). So I repeat: just do it. There isn’t another time that will be better for creativity than now.

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