Some time back I read an article in my local newspaper about teaching kids to snack healthy and to learn to trust their body’s cues about food. Since then I’ve been thinking of similarities between healthy snacking habits and developing a healthy creative life.
- Teach yourself how to recognize aesthetic cues/desires – and practice responding to them – over time. I think of aesthetic cues as mental indulge-ments; things like stories, poems, movies, music, art etc. that make you feel glad to be alive. Just like a kid has to learn how to try new foods and then practice recognizing what foods they enjoy eating. As we go through life our aesthetic preferences change – just like our food preferences do. So it’s helpful to continue to try new aesthetic/art snacks periodically – and practice trusting your own cues.
- Allow yourself to listen to your own aesthetic cues/voice without input from other people. This takes practice and no matter how experienced a person is one has to remember to return to listening to one’s own voice – rather like how sometimes a kid (or an adult) has to be reminded to pay attention to their plate and eat. (When my wife and I go to happy hour with our friends I have to remind myself to eat…I tend to focus on the conversation…)
- Give yourself permission to just practice. Practice-an-art-materials can be as simple as keeping a book of stories or poems handy for reading and a small book to write in. Think of it as adult playing. Some helpful mantras: “Nothing has to go right today”, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.” and “It’s okay to make mistakes and messes – it’s part of how we learn.”
- Set specific times to practice. These can be very short bursts of time. They can be event/circumstance based rather than clock based. i.e. I’ll practice reading/writing poems while the coffee/tea brews, the water boils or the oven pre-heats.
- Create a small place/drawer where your practice-an-art materials are kept handy. Perhaps a shelf where books related to your art snack indulge-ments are stored. Look for and collect objects, events, places that feed your creative-soul-heart-mind. Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive. Plan to indulge in these things in small ways – daily.
- Set a habit (I hate the word “rule”) for what time per month you’ll indulge yourself – for an aesthetic “meal”, something more than a short snack – with someone else’s artwork: i.e. go to local art-openings, poetry/story slams, indie film nights, music jam nights or a visit to an art museum.
Here’s what I indulged myself with this morning as an art snack while my breakfast bread toasted:
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W. B. Yeats is a new-favorite poem. It reminds me that we can – and do – create our own solace.
9 thoughts on “art snacks”
Absolutely wonderful post! These are such good “indulgements” (and I love your frequent neologisms). I particularly like your suggestions to practice daily in small bits as well as giving yourself permission to be messy and “fail”. Practice without judgement is harder than you think, though, right?
Thanks Susanne! And yes, practicing without judgement is so much harder than you’d think. It helps me to remember that “no judgement” begins with judgment itself. I try to just recognize the “judge-y” thought and then go on. Something along the lines of “I see the negative judgement. Next thought please.” Of course this too takes practice… 😉 Thank you again for your kind comments!
After posting my reply Susanne I remembered something you might enjoy: there’s a wonderful post by Austin Kleon somewhat about this topic – and Kleon quotes the poet Mary Oliver (one of my faves) https://austinkleon.com/2019/01/17/you-do-not-have-to-be-good/
I have a copy of Wild Geese printed out and pinned in front of me at work as a reminder of what is truly important in life. The only book of Mary Oliver’s poetry I own is a thin book called “Dog Poems” which I think you, with your skillful drawing of dogs, would mightily enjoy.
Heck-a-mighty!! A Mary Oliver book I didn’t know about!! Going to have to look up “Dog Poems” and get a copy!! Wahoo!! Thank you so much for telling me about it!!!
You always give such great advice. I am going to heed it and keep reminding myself of it as I endeavour to carve out a bit more regular art time for myself this year.
I am so glad, Laura, if anything I write is of use to you! Being creative is a muscle we have to practice using and we all sometimes need “work-out buddies” to help us strategize and keep going. You have certainly encouraged me – and I’m glad to return the favor!
It’s amazing what you can accomplish while waiting for water to boil, but I’ve never thought of using those brief intervals for creative efforts. Great ideas in this post!
Thanks. It really is amazing how ones concept of ones own creativity changes when one stops waiting for a perfect amount of “time-to-create” and snatches available moments for short bursts of creativity. Glad you liked what I shared Audrey. I hope my ideas will be useful to you.