Questions I ask while Creating

I’m not sure about you but I sometimes struggle with “being in my head” too much. I do this with art, but really with just about anything in my life. When in comes to overthinking my creative process, I’ve learned to direct it more. Today, I’m sharing the common questions I ask myself when I’m creating. 

How can you push this farther?

This question is all about pushing the boundaries of my work. Sometimes I feel that I'm holding back. Asking myself this gives me broad possibilities for the next step. It also means I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone which is usually heavily influenced by outside sources. 

What is working?

I use this question a lot! Anytime I'm unsure of the next step, I take a hard look at the piece and ask what is working. Sometimes I phrase it as "what am I liking here?"or "what isn't working?". It helps me to hone in on techniques and colors that I really like or don't like. 
Side note: I also ask this when looking at others people work. 

Is there a technique or supply I haven't used in while that could work here?

This is a great question for when I feel tired of my supplies or stuck in the process. Sometimes simply adding one thing differently can change an entire piece around. This is also the fun of mixed media- anything is truly fair game!
Side note: It's also helpful to keep a catalog of techniques to browse through for this question. 

What color would I like more of?

It's easy to get into a certain color story and use those colors repeatedly. It's not a bad thing. It actually makes for work that has a sense of personal style. However, sometimes you need something different. So just like when asking about different techniques, asking myself about different colors is extremely helpful. And sometimes I ask what color I want to see less. This gives me the opportunity to let go of something to invite something else in. 

Is this finished?

Of course the never ending debate about "finished art". When I find myself questioning this it usually means two things. One it is finished and I have to be courageous enough to stop. Or its really close to being finished and I need to consider some finishing touches. Sometimes deciding those finishing touches involves asking the questions above. 

As you can probably see, there is a lot of thought and intention behind my creative process. But I also make a point to find my flow and work mindlessly. Each piece is usually a combination of both very little thinking and a lot of thinking. 

Do you have questions that you ask when creating? 

My new favorite color of paint and some other loves

First of all, I'll start by saying pink has pretty much always been my least favorite color. However, I have fallen in love with neon pink! This little bottle of neon pink paint packs such a punch. (Say that three times fast ha!) I love how when it mixes with other colors it makes them vibrant too. I also love it on it's own. If you've been following my Daily Sketchbook project on Instagram, you have probably noticed how much I've been using it.


Next to color, I've always loved texture. A couple of months ago, I found these texture tools from Prima. You drag them through wet paint to create patterns. They are so much fun!


I recently discovered the Art for Your Ear podcast. It's hosted by Danielle Krysa from the Jealous Curator. If you like hearing about artists' lives and their inspiration, then I highly recommend this podcast. Danielle does a great job pulling quirky stories out of the artists. It's light hearted but interesting and I catch myself laughing throughout the episodes. You should check it out.

This isn't too art related, but I love my African Violet! It's blooming right now and has the prettiest purple flowers. It sits on my desk and adds so much life.


Last but not least, I love the feeling of finishing a bottle of paint. There is something so satisfying about knowing I've painted so much that I used a whole bottle. :) 

What are some things you're loving this week?

Tips for Setting Creative Goals

The start of the year always brings out the goal setting in people, me included. About this time each year, I spend some time reflecting on the past year and think about what I want to accomplish in the coming year. I usually set a word for the year to be an overarching theme, but I also set a few small goals. My goals typically span from creative to personal to financial. But today, I want to talk about creative goals. I want to share my tips for setting creative goals and my goals for the coming year (2017). 

Be realistic.
     I suggest by looking back on what you have accomplished in the past year creativity. Do you think you can do more, less, or about the same? I tend to have so many goals that it's impossible to accomplish any of them. This year, I'm being realistic with myself about the time and energy I will have to accomplish my goals. Therefore, I'm setting three goals. They are pretty broad. However it feels more realistic for me considering some of the goals I have for other areas of my life.

Be courageous.
     Last year my word for the year was “courageous”. And while I didn’t really approach my creative goals with a ton of courage, it taught me so much about being courageous and having grace for myself. In the past, I’ve been scared to set daily art goals. However this year, that is one of my main goals over all. Let yourself dream big and bold. Set a goal that may seem unattainable, but approach it with passion and curiosity. Then when things get tough, focus on progress and not perfection. Rest when you need to, but don’t quit. 

Be flexible. 
     Like a mentioned above, my goals this year are broad. Most goal setting experts would frown on this. However, I have found when I have the flexibility to let my goals morph and change over time, I am open to better things happening for me. 

Be creative.
     These are your goals and your chance to make plans for what you want to invite into your creative life. So be creative. You don’t have to make goals like other people or do the same goals year after year. You have the choice to structure your goals however it makes sense for you. Use the creative mind that you have in your goal setting as well.

My goals for this year:

1) Daily Sketchbook Project: create a sketchbook page each day using different mediums. Some days I may spend hours creating something. But other days may be quick sketches to keep my creativity flowing. This may be all a create some days. I'm going to keep track of this through Instagram and by dating my pages.

2) Complete a 100 Day Project: I have lots of ideas floating through my head of what this may be. I’ve tentatively set a date in mid-February to start. That’s about all I have figured out. :)

3) Share my work regularly: through this blog, on Instagram, and in person. I feel I do an okay job sharing my art online, but I know there is room for improvement. In addition, I want to learn to be more open about my work in a personal way. So technically, this is a personal/creative goal, but one that is going to take courage. This one may be a little harder to keep track of, but I basically know when I'm holding back on sharing and when I'm not. And some of this will be accomplished through the first goal. 

Have you set your creative goals for this year? I would love to hear about them!

Carefree Painting Music

Recently, I discovered Spotify. Now, I'm obsessed with creating playlists for my creative sessions. When I'm creating, I usually like to listen to music that makes me feel a certain way or has similar sounds or a certain beat. I've decided to start sharing some of these playlists with you all. I hope they can fuel some creative sessions for you like they do for me!

Today's playlist is called: Carefree Painting Tunes. These are breezy songs with a little beat to help you get into a carefree creative flow. January can be exciting, but also a bit daunting as we plan all the changes we want to make in our lives. For me, creativity helps me center my soul and focus on what is important. This playlist is all about finding a flow and creating with it. 

I hope you enjoy!
What are some of your go to songs to create to?

Daily Sketchbook Project 2017

Have you seen those posts on Instagram of people keeping a daily sketchbook? They seem to be all over mine, especially this time of year. I've admired them for a while wanting so badly to have one but afraid I wouldn't be able to keep it up. So in December, I ran a little test for myself. I created a page in my sketchbook everyday for about three weeks. It turns out that it wasn't difficult to keep up! I really loved experimenting a little every day and thought about how was going to complete my page throughout the day. When the new year came around, I knew I wanted to make this my year long project. 

I'm doing my pages in a Canson Drawing notebook. The pages are little thicker than a regular sketchbook. I need that because I like to use paint on my pages. Wet mediums like paint and matte medium do cause the pages to wrinkle a bit, but that doesn't really bother me. The notebook measures 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches. It really is the perfect size for me. I'll only be able to fit 2-3 months in one journal. When I run out of space, I can start a new notebook like this or maybe change things up a bit. I'll figure that out when I get there. I don't really have any guidelines or rules for this project. The main idea is to create something everyday. Even when I'm really busy, I can find 10-15 minutes to draw or paint something. 

I'm planning to share something from this project every Saturday. Sometimes it may be a roundup of all the pages and sometimes it may be something more. Today, I have a quick time lapse video from my most recent page. You can see the rest of the pages from this week on my Instagram account or using the hashtag #dailysketchbookbycasey2017. 

I hope you enjoy seeing this project this year! If you have a year long project, I would love to hear about it!


Organizing Creative Ideas

The thing about creative ideas is you never know when you're going to have them. Sometimes it seems like you can easily think of one idea after another. But then sometimes you feel as if your creative well has completely dried up.

Does that ever happen to you?

I've lived through both extremes and discovered that having ideas on hand is so helpful for when you have no ideas or so many you're overwhelmed.

Here are some things I do to organize ideas so they are always on hand. 

1) I use Evernote or some kind of note taking app on my phone. I like Evernote because it allows me to tag and sort things easily. And I can go back and search if I can't remember where I put something. But the point is, when I have an idea I pull out my phone and write as much detail as I can about it. Size, shape, colors, function, etc. I've learned that including a bunch of details here means I'm less likely to look at it later with no idea what I meant. I'm also more likely to be able to expand on the idea into more ideas.

2) Sometimes we have ideas that are best drawn or doodled. For those times, I keep a small notebook in my purse. And honestly I grab this sometimes when I want to write the idea too. It gives me plenty of space to draw and write what's in my mind. Many times I will go back to these and input them in Evernote so everything is together.

3) Pinterest is another tool I use. I know it's easy to get sucked into the never-ending scroll of Pinterest. But if you stay focused and don't look, you can avoid that. (Easier said than done right?) Sometimes when I have an idea, maybe for a specific project and I want a color scheme to go with it, I'll search for it on Pinterest. Or if I see a technique that I'm not exactly sure how to do, I'll search it there. Anytime I feel I need more visual direction, Pinterest is my go-to. 

4) Sometimes the idea doesn't come from my own head but from something I've seen. Maybe a window display, a photo in a magazine, or an outfit. When this happens, I try to take a photo or screenshot. Usually I do this for textures, color combos, or the aesthetic of a piece. Later, I'll go through my photos and upload them to Evernote with notes about what I liked or want to remember about that idea.

5) One last thing I tend to do is combine these tools. I'll see something that sparks an idea. Then I'll take a photo and write and draw where I want to take that idea. Then I'll use Pinterest to fill any missing pieces of the idea. Then I can put it all into Evernote for easy access when I'm ready to create.

Most of my ideas don't come when I'm at my table ready to work. But keeping track of my ideas means I have somewhere to look for inspiration when I am ready to work. Using Evernote for this gives me one place to look for inspiration. When I'm thinking of projects, I go to the art projects notebook there. Then I can take a seed of an idea and make it work for what I'm doing. Or if I have no ideas then at least have somewhere to start.

What are your favorite ways to organize creative ideas? 

DIY Clipboard Hanger

Today, I have a project for you that is so versatile! You can use materials you probably already have on hand or can get easily. This idea is based on something I saw at Michael's that I knew I could recreate to better suit my needs. 
Are you ready to get started? 


I started with a spare 1x4 board. I cut it down to 28 inches long and sanded it smooth. If you don't have a board, you can get one cut at most home improvement stores. You can also find finished wood pieces at crafts stores that would work with this. I also used some clips that resemble clipboards. You can use regular binder clips for this as well.


Then I got started on the fun part- painting! I wanted the woodgrain to show through, so I painted a light coat of watered down acrylic paint. Then I used a cloth to rub it in. I spritzed the board with a bit of water first.

Next, I had to do a bit of math... So, my board measured 28 inches long and I wanted three clips evenly spaced. Therefore, I had the two on the ends in two inches and one in the middle that was about 12 inches from the two on the outside. Using three clips made it easy. Put the two the same distance in. Then the third one goes in the middle. I used a tape measure and pencil to mark where the clips would go.
Up until this point, I had planned to hang the board vertical.  

Now, it's time to pull out the power tools! You can absolutely use a hammer and nails if that is what you have. But who doesn't love a chance to use a drill? I drilled a hole where each of my marks were. I also made sure not to go all the way through the board. This really didn't seem to matter. However, at that point, for some reason, it mattered to me. Once your holes are drilled, use a screwdriver and small screws to attach the clips.

Lastly, I put two small nails on each side and tied a ribbon around them. This is how your cool new memo holder will hang on the wall. You could also attach a picture hanger to the back if you like it without the string. I also added a little gold paint to the heads of my screws so they matched the clips.


Now hang it on your wall and admire your handy work!

How do I know when my painting is finished?

First and foremost, it’s a feeling. For me, it’s not really a sigh of relief, more of a “I’m tired of this and ready to let it go”. I don’t mean that to sound harsh. I love painting! I love the process and most of the time I love the end result. Let me tell you about a painting that I tried to keep finishing. It was several weeks ago. I was working on a canvas a good bit bigger than I’m used to. I added many, many layers to this canvas because it kept calling for more. I finally got to a point where I was ready to be finished. But as I looked at it I really hated it. It felt ugly to me on every level. So I thought, “This can’t be finished if I don’t like it.” I’m supposed to love everything I paint, right? With the hopes of “fixing” it, I hung it on my wall. I looked at it from a distance and in different lighting. But over the course of a few days, it became uglier to me. So what did I do? I painted over the whole thing with black paint and stuck it back with my blank canvases. The reality was, that painting was finished. I was ready to let it go and take the lessons I had learned from it on to another piece. Do you want to know the really cool thing about that painting? The very first layer I had painted the words, “let go” all over it. If art is about the process and if we allow it to seep into our soul, we can really learn something from it. 

Altered Book Journal with video

Aside from creating art, I would say reading is my favorite hobby. I've always loved books! So, a few years ago when I wanted to use old book pages in some art, I had some guilt. I felt bad about tearing up a book that could no longer be read by someone else. Even for a while, I told myself I had to read the book before I could tear it up. That got old fast because the books I picked out for art projects were not based on how good the book actually was. It took some time, but I eventually decided it was ok to sacrifice the book for art. There are plenty more copies available, right? And if someone really wants to read it, I'm sure they can find a digital version. Now, I have quite a few books in my art stash and no guilt to go along with it!

Today's video should be guilt free too! I'm using an old book to make an art journal. This one is a better version from the one I made for this season of Get Messy. I explain some of the differences in the video. So without further ado, here's the video!

I hope you enjoyed this project and video! I know parts of the video go a bit fast, so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! I would to see your journal if you make one.
Thanks for stopping by today!

Black and White- Art Journal Page

In case you haven't noticed, I really love color! And I have a hard time with white space. However, for this page idea, I really wanted the words to come across without being in competition with a colorful background. So I decided to just use a black paint pen on this page. That's it. One supply. A black paint pen. And I'm really happy with how it turned out. It feels dynamic but not cluttered. The proportions on the person are off, but that's the first time I've drawn that, so it's ok. This page gives me the courage to try more "clean and simple" styles while still embracing my style.

If you're thinking you would like to start art journaling, I suggest you give the Get Messy community a try. Not only do you get weekly journal prompts, but it comes with an amazing supportive community of artists!

Just one step at a time...

Just take it one day and one step at a time.
I'm pretty sure this is what God is telling me lately. I so easily get caught up in the distant future and how it's all supposed to work out. Then I forget the small steps along the way. I forget to focus on what I can do today and in this moment that can lead me to those bigger dreams. I forget to be present. I forget that I can't do it all right this second no matter how hard I push myself. 


Art Journaling to Remember

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, art journaling helps me work out things or emotions. But lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been adding an extra layer to this- including things I don’t want to forget. Specifically with these two pages, it’s scripture I want to make sure I remember. These two verses tugged at my heart when I read them. I wanted to process that feeling but also I wanted to document them so I could easily find them again.

Art Journaling hurts sometimes

Last week, I discussed how I love the freedom of art journaling. And I still do. But you know, art journaling can hurt sometimes. Or at least it can help us face things on paper that maybe we've been avoiding in our everyday lives. When given the push to look at our true selves through an avenue as safe as paper and paint, it's amazing what comes up. While working on this spread, I had to be honest with myself. Honestly with ourselves can be hardest to muster. But I pushed through and I'm glad I did.

My Lettering Technique

With my upcoming trip to Rwanda, I've received some super sweet support from family and friends. I wanted to thank them with special "thank you" notes. Using my faux lettering technique, I came up with these. I'll walk you through how I made them!

First, I started with an printed outline of Africa. 

Then with a pencil, I scripted out my words. This is where I played around to get the shape of the letters right.

Next, I used a fine tip black pen to outline it all. Keep in mind, at this point, it doesn't have to be perfect. This is all about getting the base outlined.

Next, I went back with my pencil and added a thicker line on the downstrokes of each of the letters. The downstrokes are simply where you naturally would pull down on the pen if you were using a calligraphy pen. If you're unsure, pretend to be writing the word and see where you are pulling down. 

Lastly, I filled in the thicker lines and cleaned up any lines that weren't smooth. Don't forget to erase your pencil lines.

I took everything a step further using my digital die cutter to make them into card fronts from printed papers. I used Matte Medium to adhere them to kraft cardstock.

I love how they turned out!!


Mixed Media Supply Budgets

I’ve been thinking lately about my go-to supplies. And the supplies I’ve had for years and can’t seem to part with. I’ve been thinking about how I do mixed media and art journaling and painting and just art in general. I guess you could say all that (over)thinking is really me figuring out my style. I’ve been creating in some form or another for well over ten years. That’s kind of a long time. It’s actually about a third of my life so far. And really I would say I’ve been creating since childhood. But anyway. Last week, I shared about finding free supplies for your mixed media projects. Today, I thought through different budgets and created supply lists for each. This is totally my opinion and based solely on how I create. I suggest you use it as a way to determine what you want to spend your money on. 

I’m going to assume you have a basic kit of a ruler, scissors, paper, and pen/pencil. 

If I only have $30 to spend where should I start?
$5-Paint. Start with a red, yellow, and blue, any shade that speaks to you. Get black and white (maybe in a larger size). Then fill in with other colors that you love. When you start on projects, experiment with color mixing and keep notes of the colors you like. I’ve worked up a collection of colors, but I still mix almost every color I use. This adds depth to a project.
$3-Paintbrushes. Get a large flat, a small round, and a fine tip one. In some stores you can get an assortment pack for a few dollars. This will help you decide which size brushes you use most often and you can begin to replace those with better quality when you need one.
$10-Acrylic Medium (not Mod Podge. This is the one place I suggest getting an art supply instead of craft supply. In the end, I’m always happier with my results with Acrylic Medium over Mod Podge.) 
$5-10-Stamps. I suggest bold lined floral sets that can be painted and cut out. 
$2-5- Permanent Dye Ink pad. Black is probably the most versatile. 
$1- Brads, Buttons, Trims, stickers. Fill the rest of your budget with these items.

If I only have $75 to spend where should I start?
Start with the basic supplies above. 
$15-Stencils. Get a few basic patterns that you love.
$5-10-Stamps. Pick up an extra stamp set or two. You could consider background stamps here.
$20-Gel Printing Plate. It’s so much fun and will make the best printed papers for your projects.
$5-White and Black Paint or Gel Pens for doodles and journaling.

If I only have $100 to spend where should I start?
All supplies listed above
$10-assortment of glitter because who doesn’t need a bit sparkle
$10-texture/molding paste to add more texture to your projects. These work great with stencils.
$5- Stencils. Stamps. 

Where you’ll want to go from here?
Mixed Media/Watercolor paper
Heat Gun
Embossing Powders and Ink
Colored Pencils/Pens/Markers
Paper trimmer

What you didn’t see:
-Patterned Paper. You have the supplies to make your own
-Colored Cardstock. Paint a white piece of paper the color you want it. 

What are your go to supplies? 

The Freedom of Art Journaling

I recently joined the Get Messy Art Journal group. It's a monthly membership site that provides you with weekly art journal prompts. Every two months a new season begins. I somehow had the lucky timing to join just before a new season began! This season is called "introspection". I'm not going to share the specific prompts, but I wanted to share my first pages and some thoughts. 

I started first my altering a hard bound journal with watercolor and cardstock pages. (I'll be sharing a more detailed look at how I made my journal soon.) Then I decided I wanted a title page of sorts. This is what it looks like. It's pretty simple. 

After the prompts were realized, I created the spread you see on the bottom. The photo was collaged after I painted the basic rays of color. After adding my journaling, I added those dots. I know there are a lot of them, but I painted them while talking to my sister on the phone, so it went by quickly. When I finished that, I had a bit of paint left over so I added some dots to the cover of another journal. 

Here is a closer view of that. 
So, here's the thing I love about art journaling. Ever since painting those dots, I've had ideas for a larger painting developing in my mind. I'm sure something I saw at some point influenced those dots. However, without the freedom of my art journal, I may not have come to the idea of the painting. Or it may have taken a while longer. While I was working on that spread, I wasn't thinking about what it may become or how it would look in the end. I was just taking one step at a time and not over thinking it. It helped something unlock in my mind. 
Have you tired art journaling yet?