Get the juices flowing: Five easy ways to boost your creativity

Are you an artist, musician, designer or otherwise creative person? Then you probably know that feeling, that no matter what stage in life you are at, whatever job you have chosen or lifestyle you are leading, if you have a creative streak in you, it just has to come out or you feel itchy. Still, sometimes you feel the burning desire to create…. but you can’t focus on anything or don’t know where to start. Perhaps you wanted to write that book, become better at playing the piano or continue to paint after you finished a great art course last year. But you didn’t. Another problem many creatives have – and I see you nodding – we all have too many things on the go but none of them are finished. And then there is procrastination. Here are five easy tips to boost your creativity and help you get motivated again!

Five easy ways to boost your creativity


1. Create a Pinterest Board with 12 projects for a year

Oh, I see you thinking, oh dear Pinterest, the ultimate station of procrastination! Yes, I know, we all spend too much time on it, drooling over interiors, recipes and pretty stuff. But there are some useful pins on there, really and they can boost your creativity. Try creating a brand new board and only pin creative ideas or projects on there that you know you are able to manage and finish. Perhaps a super easy sewing project, a simple printmaking technique you always wanted to try or an idea to upcycle a piece of furniture.

Choose 12 pins and give them a name: ‘Project January’, etc. That way you can focus on one easy creative task each month and you know there is a new one coming the next, which will hopefully give you enough of a drive to complete them. You know that each finished project will give you a great sense of accomplishment, so don’t be over ambitious and pin wisely.


Five tips to become more creative


2. Start a creative journal

Draw, stick, paint, collage, collect and write. Journals are wonderful little books to help you to boost your creativity, try out different art techniques and visualise ideas. The nice thing about journals is, is that each page offers a new opportunity, a fresh blank page. There is no right or wrong, it is your personal journal, do what you like. Nothing in your journal has to be of great quality, it is a place to dump your thoughts, your scribbles, stories, mind maps, save cut out images and other items that catch your eye, and it will be a lovely thing to keep. You can refer back to it in the future if you need some inspiration or a reminder of creative ideas or genius brain waves.

I did a wonderful workshop called ‘Creative Sketchbooks’ last year with artist Fenneke Wolters-Sinke at Fenfolio in Scotland, who showed me that you can be truly free in your journals. She taught me how using old illustrated books offer a great basis for multimedia techniques using stamps, paint, scrap paper, fabric and collage techniques among others, with the existing text and pictures making an interesting base layer. Do you have an old illustrated book lying around you no longer use? Give it a go! What is the worst that can happen?


Creative journal example with scrap paper, cut outs, layering and drawings
This is one of my own creative journals, using an old children’s storybook instead of a blank sketchbook. These are pages I did together with my 6-year old son, who also enjoyed the activity!

 

Creative journal example with scrap paper, cut outs, layering and drawings


3. Start an Instagram account

Just like a paper journal, Instagram can be your own personal dumping ground for things that catch your eye, by taking snap shots of them and posting them on your Instagram page. You can make it public or keep it private, that is up to you. Perhaps you have a love for textures, or a certain colour. Or maybe you have always wanted to do a photographic series of vintage cars? Of people? Of plants? I recently started another account myself, taking pictures of colourful street art and other things that catch my eye in Valencia (@coloursofvalencia).

Instagram shows all your images in a grid and it can give you a real boost seeing your ideas and images all together, forming an overview of your creative journey. You may find a certain theme emerging. It also encourages you to go out and take plenty of photos. If your account is public you may even get fellow creatives commenting and you could discover some other interesting accounts giving you more ideas in the process.

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4. Set up a Mastermind meet-up with other creatives

This is a slightly different idea, which you may or may not like, but could be interesting to try! I have seen it work very well for women in business, who come together once or twice a month for coffee and discuss their challenges, certain topics and things that are perhaps keeping them from moving forward. Many times they end up collaborating, giving each other fresh ideas or pointing each other to contacts in their networks. I don’t see how this could not also work well for people feeling a bit stuck in their creative lives.

You could pick a topic each time or even plan a visit to local galleries to get fresh ideas and boost that creativity. Hook up with two or three creative friends or contacts you know that could benefit from a Mastermind meet-up and get the ball rolling. If anything, you’ll expand or revive your social circle, which can only be a positive thing.

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5. boost your creativity by Switching off the internet and mobile phone

Hold on, not just yet! But you get it, right? And yes, I did just encourage you to start a Pinterest board and and Instagram account. Guilty! But we can all admit that we are probably spending way too much time online, wasting an enormous amount of hours scrolling through pointless posts and photos of people we hardly know on our Facebook timeline, chatting on WhatsApp, and doing really not much at all that stimulates our brain, let alone our creativity. It is a worldwide addiction that prevents us from picking up that brush, the neglected guitar or switch on the sewing machine. Even reading a real book.

Let’s all try and break that habit, myself included! Be more mindful, go for a walk to let new ideas flow into your mind. Once the wifi is off, what else is there to do that makes us happy? Yes, plenty! You can start small, by choosing one day or night a week and dedicate this to creating. I promise you, you will be proud of yourself.

Do you have any other tips to boost creativity? Please share them below or on the facebook page. Happy creating!


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Review: buying affordable art online with Artfinder

Buying affordable art online is something that is becoming quite popular. I regularly post about art, as I believe it brings joy to people’s lives and can add real personality to a home. Art is in fact an important ingredient in my designs for clients and I always suggest to people to invest in some artworks if they don’t own pieces already, and it really doesn’t need to cost the earth. Without it, I feel a room is just not complete! I wrote a blog post recently about how and where to buy art in which I mentioned online galleries as a good way to browse art in a non-threatening way. Today I am reviewing Artfinder.

Discovering original art is becoming a lot easier with sites such as Artfinder popping up on the net, offering a service that takes any barriers out of the buying process. Buying art can feel a little bit alien to some, but just saving images as favourites as if you were on Pinterest makes things a doddle.

buying affordable art online
Hybrid No:19, collage on paper by Leigh Bagley
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Landscape, Acrylic painting on Canvas, by Nadia Moniati


As you are saving your favourites, the site recommends other artists and works you may like, a bit like Spotify, so if you don’t know exactly what your taste in art is, then you may form yourself a much clearer idea after browsing the site for some time and regularly clicking on the ‘like’ button.

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Diamond (Rose), Linocut on Paper, by Liam Roberts


Of course, there is more to art than only large abstract paintings – try browsing the printmaking section for beautiful contemporary graphic pieces for example. I enjoy receiving tailored suggestions or seeing “The daily finds”, as it is a good way of sifting through the huge amount of art that is on offer as well as discovering pieces you may nog have come across otherwise.

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Cat in Teal Green, Screenprint on Paper
by Lu West


You can get an original piece of art on Artfinder from less than £50, so it is very affordable and so much more personal than buying a mass produced canvas from the home section of a high street department store (who buys these things anyway?). The nice thing is also that you get to read about the artist who made it, often with a bit of background about the artwork. Artfinder supports artists from around the world, which means you can buy internationally.

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Through a Courtyard (relief), Relief on Panel / Board / MDF, by Liam Hennessy


Many of the works come framed and ready to hang, which is a welcome bonus. Do double check the sizes though, as many artworks are small. Nothing worse than receiving your purchase in the post and opening a tiny parcel when you expected a huge canvas! Shipping costs are given upfront so you know exactly what you are paying. And if you are looking for an original birthday, graduation or Christmas present, there is always the gift card option.

Do you have any online art sites you like to use?


This post includes affiliate links to Artfinder. This mean that if you like this article and subsequently decide to purchase an artwork through Artfinder by clicking on one of the links in my post, Nina’s Apartment receives a small commission too.

Choosing art for your home

Choosing art for your home can be quite a challenge. How do you buy art online? Where do you find affordable art in your local area?

art: an essential ingredient in interior design

Art is a funny thing. I absolutely love art and have always been interested in it, from when I was very little. Art needs to be around me, whether it is paintings, photographs, sculpture or ceramics. I yearn for the handmade, original qualities of a piece of art. Problem is, I keep buying it, even though I have long run out of wall and shelf space to display anything.

how to buy art online
image source
choosing art for your home
Image source
choosing art for your home
Image source

I find it amazing how art just seems to have the ability to ‘grab’ you and you feel you need to own it, probably because it is such a one-off, unique piece and you adore it. Well, that has happened to me more than once. Even though I sometimes couldn’t justify it and it was not in my budget. Choosing art for your home often happens by chance, rather than research.


art is personal, buy what you love

One time I was working at the Glasgow Art Fair for a previous employer and during a little wander around suddenly this big orange Rothko-like painting stared me right in the face and drew me closer. I couldn’t walk away. It was as if the devil himself had taken over my sanity and before I knew it I took my card out and spent every last penny of my hard earned savings. Utter madness. But it is still my favourite painting and it has pride of place in my house.

Countless visitors have looked at be baffled and don’t see why on earth I love the painting so much. That is the thing about art: it is not about what other people think – it is very personal. If you love it and it means something to you, it is worth buying. Even if you have to live on porridge oats and water for the rest of the month.

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My own orange masterpiece on my wall.

 

 

choosing art for your home


If you spot something you like – or even more than one piece, don’t be put off buying it because of lack of wall space. Group pictures together to create an interesting gallery wall. And don’t be scared to buy something large either. Nothing worse than a tiny picture frame on a massive wall. Here’s a great website explaining you how to create a gallery wall: decorationchannel.com

choosing art for your home
Image: Decoration Channel
choosing art for your home
Image: Rise Art

If you are not too familiar with art buying, you might feel a bit at a loss when finding something great for your walls. You may choose to be safe, going for a picture that matches the colour of the curtains rather than that it evokes any emotion at all. Such a missed opportunity, because why not make your home a place that inspires you? Fill it with things that are meaningful, not mass-produced.

Still, if you feel you know very little about art or claim you are “not really into art”, then where do you look for something that ticks those boxes? Here are a few ideas.


First of all

  • Don’t care about what everyone else may think about your choice of artwork or whether it is by someone famous. If you love looking at it, it is meaningful.

  • Pick something that ‘speaks’ to you. Does it make you happy? Does the subject have significance? Or do you just really love the colours or composition? You’re onto a winner.

  • Set yourself a budget if you don’t want to be swept away by crazy impulse buying tendencies. Yup – I am talking from experience.

  • Sleep on it. Do you still think about that artwork in the morning as worth it? Get it.

 


Where to find art?

Visit the degree show of the local Art School

Those fresh graduates are dying to make it big and have their art out there. You are bound to discover some pretty cool pieces. The artist will also be incredibly grateful if you go home with one of their works.

Go to local art fairs and markets

There must be some in your city or area. Stroll around, speak to the artists. These events are usually very lively and informal and feel less daunting than shopping for art in a quiet gallery.

Buy art online

There are a growing number of online galleries selling original artworks at various prices. An easy way to familiarise yourself with different styles and see what you like. Rise Art or Artfinder are good places to start. They have some more great tips on what to look out for when buying art. Oh, and if you don’t want to buy, you can rent! How cool is that?

Be brave! Dive into an actual gallery!

Galleries may look scary for someone who doesn’t usually go to these kind of places, but trust me, gallery owners want to sell art and you are customer just like anyone else. You’ll probably find there are pieces of art at different price levels. You may not be a regular, but you have every right to go in and have a look around. Many galleries in the UK now have a scheme called Own Art, which let you buy an artwork with a 0% loan, so worth popping in for.

Vladimir Tretchikoff (10)
Popular art with vintage lovers: the Asian lady series from the 1960s by Vladimir Tretchikoff


buying art On a budget? on the hunt for something vintage?

The local auction house

Your local auction house will have plenty of artworks too. Have a look in their online catalogue of items to see if it is worth bidding. You’d be surprised how often you could pick up a framed original for less than £50. Of course, as with markets and charity shops: it is hit or miss, but certainly a good way of buying quirky art on a budget.

Browse the second-hand shops

Charity shops, car-boot sales or flea markets for original paintings, etchings and vintage posters.

Feeling creative?

Make something yourself. Paint, draw, sew, print or take photos. Frame a piece of fabric or wallpaper you love. Get the kids involved and let them go crazy with their felt pens and finger paint. It is amazing how good things look in a frame.


Have fun, starting your art collection!

Discover art on your doorstep during NEOS open studios

I don’t know about you but I love art. I have run out of wall space a long time ago but I still can’t help myself when I see an artwork I really like and that would look amazing in my house. More than once I raided my bank account for a painting or print that really wasn’t something I could or should spend money on that day…but oops, I did it again! I have never regretted any of those purchases however, not like I regretted buying those shoes in the sale or another plastic toy for my kids that they only played with once. Art does not seem to go out of fashion. And if anything gives your home personality, it is those unique pieces of art that you love and nobody else owns.

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Each year in September, now for the 14th year running, there is NEOS, or North East Open Studios, where over 200 artists across Aberdeen city and shire open their doors to the public, showing off their work and technical skills. It is amazing. Not only do you get to see a wide variety of art in all shapes and forms, you also get to speak to the artists, ask them questions and – this is what I like most – you discover places in your local area you never even knew existed. It’s like a treasure hunt, a discovery trail, an off the beaten track adventure, finding those yellow numbered signs dotted all over the North East for eight days. Oh there’s one! Keep going!

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People exhibit their work in the most unusual places. An old train carriage in someone’s back garden? It’s there. Whisky distilleries, village halls, sheds and of course people’s own front rooms and workshops are transformed into temporary exhibition spaces where you are invited to see arts and craft. Informal, welcoming and you often even get a cup of tea. All for free. Try that for an average day out.

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Upper Loop Studio

You don’t know anything about art you say? It’s not something that really interests you ? Nah – you’re just saying that. If you like beautiful things and getting inspired, then just give it a go. A number of artists are professionals and are doing it for a living, but most participants are people like you and me who make art in their spare time. Many of them are real talents. Flicking through the thick NEOS directory you’ll be able to select the artists you might like to visit, whose work is anything from cool abstract paintings to water colours of our local ‘mountain’ Bennachie (oh yes, loads…), wood sculptures, ceramics, photography, jewellery and contemporary printmaking. A lot of artists also give demonstrations and workshops for you to have a go yourself.

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Pick up one of the directories and go visit a few places. Pile some friends in the car and make an afternoon of it. Download a trail if you fancy ‘doing an area’. You’ll be amazed how many artists you have living on your doorstep. You may even find yourself coming home with an original piece of art or commission someone to make you one. If you still tell me you didn’t enjoy any of it after all that, then – oh well. But I bet you have a blast.

NEOS starts on Saturday 10th of September and runs until the following Sunday 18th of September.

www.northeastopenstudios.co.uk

NEOS on Facebook
NEOS on Twitter @NEOS_uk

Online Directory Flip book

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House tour: a small converted farmhouse in the Netherlands

On my travels through the Netherlands this month I popped into my friend Frederiek’s house in the tiny village of Huizinge, north Groningen, who lives there with her partner Wimer and their three-year old son Teun. Huizinge is a beautiful characterful village surrounded by endless flat green fields and far horizons. Frederiek and Wimer recently bought one of the old houses and brought it right up to date with a gorgeous interior full of vintage finds, contemporary art, minimalist touches and plenty of house plants.

Although the house inside doesn’t look anything like it originally was, Frederiek and Wimer didn’t have to do a lot of structural work to the building themselves when they bought it. “We bought the house casco (Dutch for a ‘shell’ building ed.), so it was mainly the inside that still needed to be finished. That way we were able to make the interior just the way we wanted which was great because we were looking for a blank canvas to work with”, Frederiek says. As a result the house is now much more suitable for modern living. The small rooms in the front of the house were originally living room and storage but are now the two bedrooms and the old animal barn got converted into a spacious and very bright kitchen-dining room.

Frederiek (here pictured with my husband)

The couple, who both work in the creative sector, have a keen eye for finding design on a shoestring budget and were lucky enough to salvage the large globe lights from a building in Groningen that was about to be demolished. Other vintage finds are the mid century dining chairs, sofa and armchair and the beautiful old tall glazed cabinet that came out of a cafe. Teun’s nursery is an eclectic collection of heirloom furniture from Frederiek’s family.



Despite the huge transformation there are still many original features which give the house a lot of character, such as the old barn windows, wooden doors and beams, now all painted in a fresh duck egg blue and warm greys. The seamless minimalist grey Egaline floor was poured throughout the house and forms a nice contrast. This type of floor is normally only used as under flooring but when mixed slightly different and coated it works well as a finished product too. Oh, and it is highly practical – what else would you expect from the Dutch?

A glass fronted extension looking out onto the garden and adjoining fields forms their bright ‘sitting room with a view’ including a wood burning stove, wall to wall book shelves and plenty of space for little Teun to play.

Their drive to make the house their own doesn’t stop here though. Having only moved in last December the energetic couple is already working on their next design project: the garden studio / guestroom. No doubt this will look just as stunning as the rest. I can’t wait to see it!

Fill your house with art (and gorgeous vintage furniture!)

My recent purchased sideboard and favourite artwork in our house

One of the great things about my job is that I get to meet so many different people in very different houses. This week I picked up a wonderful 1960s McIntosh sideboard and another British-made mid-century desk from a lovely couple in Aberdeen – with a wonderfully eclectic interior. As soon as I arrived I was taken back by the vast amount of original artworks that filled their home. These people clearly were true collectors with great style and taste! Visiting their house also made me re-think my own wall space and where to place artworks. I have always had this idea that a room can only handle one very large piece and a few other smaller pictures on other walls, but the walls in the house of this couple were filled – wall-to-wall – with paintings and it actually looked good. “Just fill it!” the lady said when I told her my dilemma of having too many artworks and not enough walls. I think I’m going to take a leaf out of her book. After all, being surrounded by art can only be a good thing for mind and spirit.

I have made a collection on Pinterest of beautiful rooms filled with art and pictures, combined with iconic Danish furniture, to share this idea with you. What do you think, a winner?

A wall covered in small pictures http://pinterest.com/pin/259027416041063896/

 

Amazing art in this bedroom http://pinterest.com/pin/259027416041063901/
Art, sideboard and great books – what more do you need in a room? http://pinterest.com/pin/259027416041063902/
Ceramic objects, another love of mine! Great display http://pinterest.com/pin/259027416041063891/
A wonderful monochrome palette http://pinterest.com/pin/259027416041063892/
Great splashed of colour and art display http://pinterest.com/pin/25473554114710163/
http://pinterest.com/pin/229894755948987319/
Who needs a TV when you have this to look at? http://pinterest.com/pin/273030796132204724/
Who says large artworks are only for museums? Fabulous. http://pinterest.com/pin/273030796131276801/
I like how this artwork has been hung to the right rather than centrally. Great wall colour too. http://pinterest.com/pin/273030796130992110/

My Louis XV chair from the local junk shop

Our living room. I found this Louis XV chair in a junk shop near my village, for the grand sum of £20. I will recover it some day as the fabric on it is too beige for my liking, but for the time being I’ll just funk it up with some loose fabric or cushions.

The lamp shade is from DOT (Amsterdam and The Hague). The artwork is a limited edition print from Scottish artist Francis Boag.