If you want to experiment with ways to create on your own, or if you want to fuel your creativity with small efforts that will have a terrific impact, here are some fun things you can do any time.

Intuitive Painting

If you’ve looked at the gallery of art my clients have created in my workshops, you'll see that they are expressive and free. In fact, all of the collage images throughout this site are composed of pieces of Intuitive Paintings, or IPs. Here’s how you can do them on your own.

Start with a 9" x 12" sheet of black construction paper — or use any paper, or a page in a sketchbook. This work is usually done with soft pastels, but oil pastels work well, too (and they are easier to work with if you want to do IP on your travels). Get some music cranking — to match the mood you’re in, or a mood you want to shift to. Then pick a color that appeals to you and just start working on the page.

The key is to cover every bit of the paper, and not to smear the colors with your fingers. Put some energy into it, and just see what happens. And, do some things to surprise yourself. You can draw with your non-dominant hand for a few minutes, or draw with your eyes closed for a while. Turn the paper a few times. Close your eyes, pick a color at random, then open your eyes and continue.

The key is to go with your feelings and see what happens. After a few of the “surprise” techniques at the start, make the picture what you want. But remember, you are not finished until all of the paper is solidly covered. (That means using a black pastel for black in your picture, if you started on black paper.)

Then, switch the music and try it again. This time, pick one of these prompts as your "assignment".

  1. excitement dueling with boredom 
  2. the best flavor in the world 
  3. balloons bursting with shocking surprises 
  4. pain turning to pleasure
  5. 2 colors having a blistering argument 
  6. is there such a thing as being too happy?
  7. a tangle of emotions
  8. magic
  9. blind ambition
  10. a storm that's overwhelming
  11. geometric shapes arguing with lines
  12. looking for light as you feel your way through a deep dark cave

Sentence completions

Another great way to quickly activate creativity is to complete the “root” of a sentence, many times. In fact, you'll use the same sentence "starter" and complete it 12 times. The key is to work quickly and continue even if you feel stuck. If you get to the 7th line and feel like you cannot complete the sentence, just write “blah, blah” and go on to the 8th. Here's an example:

Time flies for me when __________________.  

Time flies for me when I'm out hiking.
Time flies for me when I'm curled up with a great book.
Time flies for me when I stop thinking about my to-do list.

You get the idea.

Here's a list of sentence “starters” you can use, but remember that you can make up any you want, at any time.

  1. If I go out and get lost __________________.
  2. I procrastinate most when __________________.
  3. Nothing makes me more frustrated than __________________. 
  4. Today, I’m dreaming that __________________.
  5. To enjoy my work more I can __________________. 
  6. If I stop _________________ I can start __________________. 
  7. To wake myself up I can __________________.
  8. 5 years from now I will __________________.
  9. If I follow what my intuition is telling me now __________________.
  10. I know I’m strong enough to __________________.

Consider repeating a sentence starter if you find your responses are interesting, or tweak it a bit to take the idea a little farther. And, it's often good to repeat a sentence exercise on different days, as different responses will certainly emerge.

When you use this exercise and complete the sentences quickly, your intuition and emotions emerge because your self-critic does not have a chance to get in the way. I hope you’ll give it a try.

Open-ended writing

Any time you write from your heart, in any form, you’re doing great creative work. You may want to start each morning by writing a word or thought or intention for the day. Or, you might want to write a page or more with whatever is in your head at the moment. Keeping a journal by your bed makes it easy to do a quick bit of writing when you first get up.

You may want to keep a small notebook with you and create short poems during the day. Just a few 4-line stanzas can capture emotions and ideas in a fresh and fun way.

And, you might like writing using a prompt to get you started. This technique works especially well just after doing some IPs, but it's great to do on its own, too. Use one of these prompts as a springboard, and see what comes up for you. Just write a page or two in your notebook or sketchbook, without any pre-planning.

  1. Sometimes ugly is important.
  2. Today my heart is telling me…
  3. My next step will be less deliberate.
  4. Boredom is a great opportunity for excellent originality.
  5. Making (at least) one mistake a day is a tested prescription for creative growth.
  6. When you feel like you know nothing at all, it’s a good sign that something good is brewing.
  7. One of the best ways to improve creativity is to surprise yourself. Is that possible?
  8. Sometimes anger is the only route to freedom.
  9. It’s very risky to live a life without risks.
  10. Pain can be great creative fuel.
  11. Old scripts are waiting to be rewritten.
  12. What if magic was real?

I hope you enjoy these exercises and will make them part of your routine on a regular basis. Check back soon, as I’ll continue to add new ideas here. And, do get in touch if you have any questions — or to share your creative experiences. 

Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.
— Rita Mae Brown