I know you are way too busy to make art. I know I am… and I don’t have kids. So, I know I probably have more time on my hands than you do. But, I am hard pressed to find time to generate new art ideas even though making fiber art IS MY JOB!!

As creative people, innovation is something we crave. Am I right?

Here’s the thing.


The right brain is pretty awesome at working in the background.

It resides in the same place as your dreams–in your subconscious. So, as a creative person, it is not that you don’t have time to come up with new ideas, you really just don’t have time to pull them out of your right brain.

What you really need is to stream line the way you harvest ideas for your work

So, here is a quick guide to organizing the way you generate new art ideas:


Letting ideas fester.

To let your right brain work, you need to get your left brain out of the way. Ever have a solution to a problem miraculously appear after you have set it aside? It is because that idea was rattling around in your subconscious. The subconscious is part of your right brain. What we want to do is take the framework of an idea, set it in you subconscious and forget it. Let your subconscious do the hard work of fleshing that idea out. To get that right brain a little in line to do the work (which is akin to wrangling children), take 3 minutes to journal your creative intention using as many feeling words as possible. For example I might wright down:

“I want to create a textural sweater, that is not too flashy, but makes me feel cozy, has a focal point that feels like a wounded heart. Melancholy, minimal, beautifully simple and some how sweet. That looks awesome on me and matches my favorite grey skirt.”

I might also add some stream of conscious descriptions, maybe mention a sweater I saw on someone that I loved. The more feeling words the better, since the right brain is all about your emotions as well. Take no more than 3 minutes. Put that entry away, and forget about it.

Slow down moments and observe.

Observing your everyday life will feed that subconscious. I know it feels counterintuitive to ask you to slow down when you have a busy day. What I really mean is something like this:

  • Wow, look at what the kids are wearing as they pour out of the school {while you are in the carpool line}.
  • Holy cow did you see the great shade of green on the new cereal package in the grocery isle…and was that shopper really wearing slippers?
  • This morning as I got in the car, the air was warm, but the wind felt cool around the edges.

Now, remember we were forgetting our creative idea and letting it fester. All these observations may have nothing to do with your original idea. All this info is like adding pins to Pinterest. You never know how these observations will manifest in your work, you are just collecting all those beautiful little bits that catches any one of your senses.

Living creatively.

Turn up the creativity on little bits of your everyday. Emphasis on little bits!  For example:

  • Change the pen in your purse to a colorful one that you love.
  • Add a new flavor from your spice rack to your standard weekly dinner.
  • Check off your to do list with a star instead of an X.
  • Pull that scarf you have always meant to wear and f**king WEAR IT with your tshirt and jeans.

See nothing big, here. We are just taking baby steps to exercising your right brain.

Document ideas as the bubble up.

I use my art journal as my filofax, so I always have it with me to document ideas as my right brain spits them out. And, again, like wrangling a child, there is no rhyme or reason when theses “creative downloads” might happen. The key to wrangling an idea is to record them as they happen. Because, like trying to remember dreams, they will be gone in an instant, once your left brain takes over again.  So, other than an art journal, you can

  • Use your iPhone to voice record, take a picture, type a quick note
  • Jot them down on a napkin scrap of paper what ever

Be sure to put all these little bits of ideas IN ONE PLACE, be it your art journal, an app on your iPhone, or a file folder or box with all the bits of paper and napkins.

So what about our textural melancholy sweater idea?

If the creative download has not arrived on its own after a week or two, schedule a little bit of time for yourself to revisit your idea with a right brain activity like journaling or drawing. Make sure it is something you consider fun and look forward to. You do not want this creative time to feel like an obligation. And like kid wrangling, don’t spend a lot of time doing so–20-30 minute will do nicely, unless you really have the luxury of time and it is just way too fun to stop.

The key is scheduling the time.

As a busy person, you know, if an appointment or event is not on your calendar, it is like it doesn’t exist.

If your creative idea is still not fleshing out, do not fret. Just move on to the next idea. Trust that if an idea is meant to manifest, it will come to you in it’s own time. Go gently and keep feeding your right brain with more delicious beautiful bits of your everyday life. Because this is what art really is.

Want to learn how to start keeping an art journal like mine? It is hands down the most important art idea generating tool I own. And it has been key to organizing my ideas in a way that saves me SOOO much time.


Join me! The 30 day art journal challenge will start April 1.

I send out daily emails with encouragement and tips to get your journal practice going.


Registration closed March 29th. Join me!!



30AJC header
Sign up for the 30 Day art journal challenge.
I promise it will change the way you create.


FREE weekly updates filled with inspirations
and encouragement to become the artist you are