Growing Your Imagination

What is imagination? 

Everyone might have a different idea of what it is. I like to think that it is the most positive, fun, and creative part of myself. It allows me to dream up my own world and put it down on paper. Pretty cool, I think. I feel that everyone can be imaginative if they allow the time for it. Depending on how much you have allowed it to grow, or how you have (unintentionally) squished it, you might think of yourself as very creative or totally unimaginative.

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Your imagination was probably very much a part of you when you were five. I know mine was and the only difference between me and someone who thinks they are not creative is that I’ve let my imagination grow up with me. I’ve let it happily crawl, play, stumble, run, and jump right along side me my whole life.  When an idea comes to me, I might laugh out loud, write it down, or file it in my mind for future use. Either way, I acknowledge it.  Maybe you feel like you’ve ignored your imagination for so long that it no longer exists.

I bet I was pretty proud of this peacock drawing as a kid!

I bet I was pretty proud of this peacock drawing as a kid!

Fear not! Your creativity can be regrown. Follow these steps (or any others that work for you!) for growing your imagination and cultivating your creativity!  I think this applies to any creative pursuit, not only painting and drawing.

Be Attentive and Kind:

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When you have an idea, draw or write it down. Have a little sketchbook with you, always!  In acknowledging your ideas, you are telling yourself that your ideas are worth saving. If an idea comes to you and you ignore it, it is akin to ignoring a little tug on your sleeve of a little kid wanting to play. Don’t be that person!  You wouldn’t tell a little kid that their ideas are silly or dumb, so be kind enough to think that way about your ideas (or paintings, drawings, etc).

Also, spend more time observing. Look, really look at everything around you. Notice the way the sun is shining through the trees. What kind of pattern does it create? Can you see any images in those patterns? Imagination is all about imaging the possibilities of what could be.

Be Diligent:

Anything that you want to be good at requires time and dedication.  You need to work at it every single day. Even a few minutes may be enough, it just has to be something you can incorporate into your life. An example might be that you quickly jot down the dreams that you remember every morning. You might choose one of those to write in greater detail or do a sketch each week. 

For me, I am motivated by tracking the amount of time that I paint and how long it takes me to complete a painting. I channel my inner kid by using stickers to track how many paintings I do each month. I tally up the hours that I put in. Some days even when I am tired, I will push to get an extra hour in! 

Something I have found is that the more I use my imagination, the more ideas come to me!

Take Baby Steps:

Keep it simple. Do one small thing at a time and have your supplies on hand. I keep my paints in a "stay wet palette" and all of my supplies on a table in my kitchen/dining room. That way I can paint for 30 minutes while I’m waiting for something in the oven., with very little preparation. Also, I can’t paint in my art room anymore because all the animals start scritch scratching at the door for my attention. If they can see me at the kitchen table, they will at least let me paint in relative peace :).

Everything is close at hand

Everything is close at hand

Also, I was intimidated by doing larger paintings. So, I started with smaller papers (8x10"). Now I am working on lots of larger paintings (16x20").  Maybe start on a smaller scale to raise your confidence and see where that takes you.

Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate!

Just as you would hang a little kid’s painting on the fridge, you need to celebrate the things you have made, no matter how small. I hang up my paintings and it makes me happy to see them!  At the end of the day, being creative has to be something that you do, not because you want recognition from someone else, but because it is something that makes you smile and adds a whole new dimension to your life.

I don’t always know what my imagination will lead to, or what will come of it, but it delights me every day.  It's like an adventure. Although I am an adult, I feel comforted to know that I can dream up and create as freely as when I was a little girl, colouring with markers on computer paper at the kitchen table. If I want to create my own world, I can do so with my paint brush! I wish for others to feel this way too.

So my advice to you is nurture your creativity, give it the time and attention it deserves, and watch as you see what will grow from it!

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If anything in this post has rung true, I would love to hear about it. I would also love it if anyone reading this has any other advice on how to develop your creativity and imagination, because every person is different.

Also, here are some pictures to show how this painting went from beginning to end:

 

Thank you so much for reading!

Stephanie McGregor