Starting a Creative Practice

Start from where you are - not where you wish you were. The work you're doing becomes your path.

Ram dass

So, you're ready to return to art or try it for the first time. You've decided to make it a priority, you've carved out the time and you can't wait to make all the amazing art that's been hiding deep inside!

Great. But where do you start?

I often dive right in when an impulse strikes. I like action and I'm incredibly impatient. If I have an idea or desire to do something, I like to start straight away. (I've been known to rearrange furniture at very odd hours.)

This kind of motivation is great, but it hasn't always served me well where art is concerned. I operated on these whims for many years and it led to many false starts.

Several years ago, after a very long absence, I wanted to make art a regular part of my life (read about that here).

I didn't plan when I was going to make work, I hadn't thought through any ideas and I didn't prepare my materials and workspace. This meant that in those infrequent moments of "inspiration", I wasn't always able to act on it. It meant that I had to use my time just getting ready to make the thing.

I didn't set myself up for success.

It has taken me a while to figure out that I need to do some planning in order to establish a consistent creative practice.

Here are a few questions and ideas that may help you to get started.


  • When are you going to make art?
  • Do you have a specific window of time and specific days or is it going to be flexible?
  • Do you need to tell your family or anyone else who may be affected?
Rachel, painting on a Samsung tablet in a hotel room during a road trip
Before going on a recent road trip, I invested in a tablet computer and a painting app so I could work on the go without setting up any messy supplies.


  • Where are you going to work?
  • Do you have a dedicated place at home?
  • Can you leave your work and supplies out or will you have to put them away after each session?
  • Do you need to work somewhere else (cafe, car, park bench)?
Painting on the kitchen table when we lived in Italy
While we were living in Italy, I didn't have a dedicated studio so I set up my supplies on the kitchen table. We ate on the other side!


  • What materials will you use?
  • Do you already have them or do you need to buy them?
  • Here's a list of the basic tools I used when I first returned to making art


  • Do you know what subject you're going to start with?
  • Start keeping a list of possible subjects
  • Perhaps you want to revisit a subject you enjoyed exploring in the past
  • What artwork, styles or mediums are you drawn to?
  • Consider creating a Pinterest board or bulletin board of inspiring artwork or other imagery

What other routines have you successfully established for yourself? Is there anything you can learn from them?

Do you have any other suggestions to add to this list?

In an earlier post, I shared a list of materials I used when I first returned to making art. These might be helpful if you're just getting started.

I hope you will join the conversation with your suggestions.

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