Work those Creativity Muscles

In my best trainer voice…Creativity is like a muscle- weights

“Come on, push through it. 

Mix those colors! 

Give me one more print. 

You can do this!”

Are you sweating yet?

Okay…Okay….I’ll stop.  But really creativity is like a muscle.  We have to work it.  Exercise it.  The more we work those creative muscles our creative thoughts are stronger.  Ideas come easier.  You can’t run out of creativity.  The tank doesn’t go empty.  The more we use it the more we have.

We are doing a series in several of my classes right now on Building our Creative Muscles.  I’ll admit that this challenges my typical ways of teaching.  Many times in my lessons we look at example first.  We discuss what the Artist did and why.  Sometimes we focus more on the Artist sometimes on the Elements of Art.  For our sculpture series we looked at many example before “sketching” a few ideas with play dough.  Or when we studied Van Gogh, we learned about the Artist.  How his use of color shifted over time.  What influenced that change.

I enjoy teaching that way.  Its comfortable to me.  I love the discussion that comes from it.  And I like taking students from that point and pushing them farther in their ideas.

But for this Creativity Series, I’ve switched things up a bit.  Most of the students probably don’t even notice a change in my teaching style but let me tell you I definitely can tell!

I don’t give visual examples at the beginning of the lesson.  I push a little more toward experimentation before giving suggestion.  I will still ask leading questions like, “What could you do to help guide the viewer throughout you picture?” or “I like the contrasting values in this section… what about over here?”  However I will purposely hold back a bit more before giving some examples of how a problem could be approached or worked through.

This series is based on Art Journaling, which I’m trying to do more of for my own personal development.  Today wasn’t the first day in the series (we’ve worked on Zentangles and an “I am” page) but this is where I’ll start sharing with you.   I’ve encouraged them to do as I’m doing and just add something everyday to their sketchbooks.

Today we made them our own.

We started off painting the cover with acrylic paints to give them a background.  Some wanted to mix more than others or add a bit more design.  They had fun with this and I sneaked in a bit of color theory.  Loved the spontaneous discussion about color mixing and combinations.  Those surprise learning experiences are the best!

Painting Sketchbook / Art Journal

While we let those dry, everyone got a magazine and found a page or image they found visually interesting.  We talked about what the designer/artist did that was successful.  A couple of things that stood out were the use of color (limited palette with focal points of color) and white space (space used to give the viewer’s eye a bit of a break).

Then I let them loose on the magazines.  They always love finding great images.

Art Journal cutting out imagesArt Journal pile of images

I stressed that they did not have to use all the images they gathered.  (Remember space for the eye to rest.)  But I made sure to let them know that they could keep images they liked for another day.  There is a pocket in the front of the sketchbooks we use.  (That’s an affiliated link but I often am able to find them in local stores for cheaper.  I usually have to pick them up a few at a time as I run across them since their availability is very sporadic.)

The assembly.  For magazine pages glue sticks  (this is a good price but I often pick them up at local back to school sales) work well for us.  If its tissue paper, then watered down Elmer’s is a good choice.  I didn’t even mention lettering but most ended up adding some.  Love the flow of creative ideas that come from a group!

imageArt Journal adding pictures

As a final touch I encouraged the use of a sharpie for putting some finished touches on it.  Since we had already talked about line variations and pattern with our Zentangle project, they had lots of ideas.

Adding Sharpie to the Art Journals

I loved the variety and discussion that came from this project but most of all I loved the kids reactions to it.

They really enjoy their “new” sketchbooks/art journals and felt it really makes it their own.



So work those muscles!  Create everyday!  Try something new!  Have fun!

This post contains affiliated links.  If you purchase something after clicking on one of the links I receive a small commission.  It doesn’t effect your price at all and it helps me offset some of the cost of doing this thing I enjoy.

Welcome to my adventures in teaching Art outside of the public school system. I’ll share our projects and challenge myself and you to continually improve. So glad you stopped by!

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