I just want to make nice things and get enough sleep. The short and sweet of how to stay creative.
I just want to make nice things and get enough sleep.
Hey there I’m Delise, a visual artist based in Philadelphia. It took me a long time to feel comfortable saying I was an artist, or even realizing that was a career path available to me, but here I am.
A typical day for me begins the night before. Planning my day before bed helps me sleep better and wake up with intention. On the other hand, inspiration can strike at any time - and before I know it - I’ve been painting for hours. This often happens in the evening for me so planning my day, as much as possible- helps me keep deadlines and have still have time for friends and family.
The fact of the matter is being an artist means living with a lot of self doubt, often working alone with little feedback. It can be daunting, lonely, and I won’t lie- sometimes I can go a weeks doubting every single thing I produce. Recognizing the times when I feel this way, documenting them, and reflecting really helps. I also am a member of a critique group with other Philly artists so I can get some feedback from people who go through a similar creative process.
Oh no- I’m in a creative rut! I usually have 903458458438 projects going at once, which helps me change things up. Right now i’m in the process of finishing commissioned portraits, working on a mixed media series on canvas, and just completed some great holiday greeting cards (which are available on my website.)
When I’m stuck I have a variety of exercises that help me un-stick. Sometimes it’s as simple as flipping a page, or hiding a canvas from myself, out of sight out of mind, amirite?!
In the past year I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Whitney (NY), the Phillips Museum (DC), Des Moines Art Center (IA), and one of my favorite collections - The Barnes (PA). I have hundreds of photos from these places that I can draw inspiration from, and that transplant me back to the very moment I first saw them. I find that this method helps me stay off the endless scroll of social media, and helps me just focus on the content thats relevant to my process.
Staying creative. In his book, Steal like an Artist, Austin Kleon writes about a creative family tree. Look for the artists and creator who inspire you, research and find the people who inspire them and go back as far as you can. This helped me develop habits back in my early days as a creative because not only are you learning more about the famous artists who have come before you, but it helps you realize you are indeed a member of a family of artists.
Other times, what I’m listening to can make all the difference. Depending on my mood, I can get lost in hours of Neutral Milk Hotel and Mountain Goats, and then sometimes I need lyricalness Jazz. Other times a Podcast helps me feel like I can learn while creating. One of my favorites right now is by the founders of Create! magazine, Art and Cocktails, where they discuss issues effecting emerging artists.
At the end of the day, each artist’s process is unique and this is just what works for me, right now. I am always open to suggestions and would love to hear what works for you!
Delise Barron is a visual artist and graphic designer based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Temple University's School of communications, and the school of hard knocks, Barron seeks to bridge the gap between artist and audience.