How do you stay motivated creating art?

It can be a difficult challenge to stay motivated when creating, and everyone has different ways they like to keep themselves in the spirit. The creation of artwork is only a part of what I do as an artist. There is the admin work, the photography, the organising, the social media work, and the list could go on.

For the past few months, creating a piece of artwork every day has been my challenge with Project 365. I’ve had lulls where I didn’t want to continue and complete it all, as it is difficult to come up and do something. Every. Single. Day. But in my little studio here in Wiltshire, I have countless pieces of artwork that I have started and not completed over the years. I’m opening up sketchbooks to half finished pages, things that I’ve wanted to complete. I feel like everyone has things like that, whether it be a piece of artwork, a bit of housework, something that you start, but never get completed.

But how do I stay motivated?

Although Project 365 has been difficult, it has been one of my main motivators this year. After leaving university a year ago, I did not know what to do with myself. There was a challenge of how to get myself out into the world with things that people want to buy, as well as ensuring that I wanted to create what I was making. Through Project 365 I have continued my exploration of materials and processes, making it fun and interesting. This has led me down several different paths of creating, and ultimately into the world of craft fairs. I’ve been making some big decisions about these, but that’s for another blog post towards the end of the year.

Having a play has been really important too, as this has led me down paths of creating that feel childish, but also very free. Remember those times where you would tear, or cut up pieces of paper and stick the down in a random order? Or draw a random squiggly line and then colour in the shapes that it made with different patterns or colours? That’s what has helped to keep me going. Reverting back to childhood art, and refreshing myself from the day to day of adult life.

My other, and arguably by biggest motivator to create art, is my other half. I could spend half an hour describing every way he helps me to keep going from making sure I have a glass of water (and that I drink it!), to helping out at craft fairs, to making sure I have a space that I want to create in.

Everyone will have different motivators to create artwork. Right now, Project 365, having a play, and my other half are my biggest motivators. If you don’t feel particularly motivated, try something different, something small, something you might not know what it will be like in the end. That’s all you may need to get your creativity flowing again.

What motivates you?

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Guest Post: Exhibition Review – Jennifer Packer


Exhibition review by Jennifer Starnes

New-York based artist Jennifer Packer exhibits her first solo show in a European institution with ‘THE EYE IS NOT SATISFIED WITH SEEING’ at Serpentine Galleries in London (19 May – 22August 2021). 34 works in total are presented, a mixture of miniature and large-scale drawings and paintings, rooted in representation and fuelled by the political and sociological introspection that underpins life. The title of the show references a biblical passage from Ecclesiastes which alludes to the human need for desire, which can never truly be sated. This is reminiscent of the confrontation that Jennifer Packer encourages through forces of attraction vs. resistance within her work.

Upon entering the exhibition, I was drawn to TRANSFIGURATION (HE’S NO SAINT), a painting I had previously seen online and the initial inspiration behind my visit. Seeing the painting in person was a completely different experience, the fiery red tones, blood orange and stark yellow burned bright. The figurative stance and gaze, both vulnerable and at peace, there is a palpable energy when standing face to face with this painting.  A clear ambiguity plagues the painting, much like the sharp line that dissects the canvas in two. The figure could be seen as sinking into the murky blackened space or emerging from it.

Jennifer Packer
Transfiguration (He’s No Saint), 2017
Oil on Canvas
182.8 x 91.4 cm, 72 x 36 inches
Collection of Igor DaCosta and James Rondeau. Photo: Jason Wyche

Several drawings also adorn the gallery walls, carrying a different sensibility but equal weight as the paintings presented alongside them. There is a delicacy to the charcoal lines which make them quite distinct in comparison. THE MIND IS ITS OWN PLACE sees two figures sharing the space, one in motion and the other still, eyes closed. Bluish pastel hues merge with a lone purple hand. Smoky grey lines melt into one another, both layering and erasing to reveal subtleties and create a sense of intimacy.

Jennifer Packer comments “I feel resistance to the use of the word “bodies” to describe the figures in my work. There’s an important difference between having a body and being a body. Bodies can be almost anything and are often subject to mindless objectification or a loss of humanity”.

Exhibition view: Jennifer Packer, The Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing, Serpentine Galleries, London (19 May – 22 August 2021). Courtesy Galleries. Photo: George Darrell.

Jennifer presents a dichotomy between portraiture and flower compositions, drawing on a fascinating parallel for how humanness can be represented. SAY HER NAME is perhaps Packer’s most widely recognised painting, made in response to the death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black American woman who was found hanging in a police cell following her arrest 3 days prior for a minor traffic violation. The suspicious circumstances surrounding Sandra’s death sparked the #sandrabland social justice movement and lead to public outcry regarding racially motivated police violence. Packer comments “when I googled Sandra, I couldn’t find any images of her memorial…so, in a way, this painting became an expression of an inability to deal with that loss”. When I look at this painting, I see contained chaos, it has a harrowing depth to it, owed to the rich colour palette and hazy painterly expressions which characterise Jennifer Packer’s style. The energetic nature of these works is something that can’t be escaped and the visceral response they conjure can’t be ignored.

Jennifer Packer
Say Her Name, 2017
Oil on canvas
101.6 x 121.9 cm, 40 x 48 inches
Private Collection. Courtesy: The Artist, Corvi-Mora, London and Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York. Photo: Matt Grubb.

Jennifer’s background in art and psychology informs her mixed media practise with specialism in realism and portraiture. Her works are often inspired by her interest in biology and the body alongside additional influences stemming from her passion for science fiction and horror.
Instagram: @jennstarrart
Website: Coming soon

Project 365: August

Project 365 is a 2021 project in which I aim to produce an artwork a day and sharing it. These will range from sketches to paintings to sculptures. Some are available to purchase on my store, and some are experiments with materials. This experimentation will expand my knowledge of how I can use materials within larger artworks and expand my practice as an artist. August included the first craft fair that I have done, as well as Christmas planning and preparations.

I found that August has been a month with my crystal ball, where I’ve sat down and thought about what I want to be doing in the next few years. I’ve made some smaller decisions, but I have also left some things to just have a longer think about before I make any big ones. I feel like this may have reflected in my artwork this month, with the Christmas sketches, and the works on paper.

213/365 – Well I wasn’t expecting that – so I said in August I wanted to head back to my sketchbook. Last night I grabbed my hardback A3 sketchbook, a single paintbrush and a handful of paints. Then this happened.
214/365 – Morning – I was so engrossed in painting this last night. The layers, the colours, the hairdryer. It all felt like I should be doing it. I feel like I’ve missed getting lost in my paintings like this. Time for more 🖌 ⠀
215/365 – Prepared – Last night was always about preparing for tomorrow’s craft fair! I glued over 150 bookmarks in two hours, a record that I’m tempted to beat later on in the year. I’ve got a couple of things to do before I’m completely ready. Let’s keep our fingers crossed the weather will be kind!
216/365 – The C Word – Is it too early to mention it? To plan for it? Yes, I’m talking about Christmas! It’s my second Christmas as an artist but the first time I’m selling at fairs and doing a mini Christmas range. This was a quick sketch of an idea while at the Vintage Weekend!⠀
What would you like to see?⠀
217/365 – By Hand – Did you know that all my designs are originally done by hand? I may alter them on the iPad or scan them in, but they are all original by yours truly. I’m excited to have some time off from work and perhaps expand the alphabet series again. Oh and work on my website, do some gardening, sort out the house…
218/365 – Colour – I’m really drawn to colour at the moment and had the sudden urge to grab my pencils at lunch. It isn’t the best, but it allowed me to play, and I think that’s what is important. ⠀
219/365 – Sorting – We’ve been sorting some bits out in the house that needed to be done and this beauty was in a tattered mess when I re-found her. She’s been bought back to glory with The Witcher in the background. Can you tell I’m a sucker for Lego?⠀
PS: I might even crack out the big sets soon!⠀
220/365 – Sketchbook – The watercolours are making a reappearance today with this lil number. I felt like something was missing though so I grabbed my sharpies and gold pen and got to work! I’m loving the fluid lines and shapes at the moment. No leaves though!⠀
Also don’t you love the dramatic lighting?⠀
221/365 – Hills Are Alive – With the view of colour! I got you there didn’t I? The watercolours are making another appearance but I felt flowing after the last piece. Can you tell which line I started with?⠀
222/365 – Blob – I’ve dragged out the gel pens for the past couple of paintings and honestly I love the effect! The shiny against the soft. It’s interesting to see how the gold and the silver sit different on the same colours. There’s always something to learn ✨⠀
223/365 – Catch Up – So I’ve continued to create every day but I haven’t had the time (or energy!) to post anything. I’ve had three days of craft fairs over the past two weeks and there’s another five full days over the next month. I decided to try out some watercolour paper that I’ve had for a while but it started to pool. I dabbed it with some paper but it smudged and it went completely wrong according to my head. So, I trusted myself and just went for it. And voua la!⠀
224/365 – Designing – So while I’ve been at fairs, I’ve been having a play and sketch of a few designs that can be used for cards, baubles and other Christmas related items. I know it’s only August but these designs are going to go through prototypes, redesigns and colour picking, among a hundred other bits to do with them. It’s the first year I’m taking Christmas selling seriously, and I’m having quite a lot of fun with it!⠀
225/365 – Waste – I try to make sure that nothing goes to waste that could be used as possible artwork. Remember that I tried to get the damp patches off the watercolour painting the other day? Well this is the imprint I made. I went in with one pen and an empty head and came out with this. It’s amazing what you can do when your mind is left to it!⠀
226/365 – Stickers – I’m working on something super exciting at the moment and I’ve just finished up some prototypes! With the scary season coming up I’ve made some super cute Halloween stickers which will be available soon. I have to admit that my favourite one is the little ghost.⠀
Which is your favourite?⠀
227/365 – Cutting Out – I’ve had a little play with those designs that I started the other day. I had to draw it on the iPad to get some super clean lines and then get the cricut to do its thing. I need to make some adjustments to it to make sure that they cut super smooth when I next try it out.
228/365 – Mixed – I’ve been drawn to these weird, fluid shapes recently as well as mixed colours with gold and silver. There’s something in the shimmer an sparkle that gets to me, and then how it sits on top of colours differently that’s just fascinating.
229/365 – Double Spread – I love playing around with shapes and colour at the moment and watercolour gives the instant effect that I look for in mediums nowadays, especially in my current sketchbook! Playing around with straight lines and curved shapes in layers today, a little contrast against day 228. ⠀
230/365 – Not everything goes to plan – Remember I shared those stickers? I bought some heavier duty sticker paper the other day and the laser printer and all the settings that it was supposed to work with, well, didn’t. The frustration was high so I’ve contacted the seller to see what suggestions they have and have another go soon. Fingers crossed they will be ready before my Etsy update on Wednesday! ⠀
231/365 – Seasonal – While in the middle of planning for next season, I got a little carried away with some plans that I might bring about in Spring! Love coming up with new ideas from old designs ✨⠀
232/365 – Design Design Design – I’m not going to share this whole design with you just to keep you on your toes but it’ll be available before the end of the year 🔺 it’ll be part of a series, because apparently I like these!⠀
233/365 – Tying Up – I’ve been tying up loose ends and making the last of some bits and pieces. I had a few of the designs of the bookmarks left which I decided to put on a white background. This means that there are two limited edition white and white designs out of the 200 bookmarks! ⠀
Looking back I can’t believe how much I’ve made and created this year and I’ve got some bigger pieces in the works in the background of all this ✨⠀
234/365 – Waste not want not – I try to keep my waste down and use parts of materials in other makes. While on my lunch I couldn’t help but notice a lonely bookmark that had nothing happening to it. So, I grabbed my pens and made myself a lil something 🌸⠀
235/365 – Double Sided – The bookmark came out again and the other side covered! I really played around with colour in this one, finding out which colour sits well where. For example, I think the luminous pink and the sea blue look lovely together, but the peach and dirty green were not a great match. ⠀
What colours do you like?
236/365 – Transfer – Still playing catch up with artworks that I made a few days ago now. I really enjoyed working with felt tip pens and exploring how colours sat next to each other. So I thought I’d translate it into my sketchbook and play around with a different variety of shapes!⠀
237/365 – Shine – Got out the felt tips and gel pens bought some more colour to the page! I’ve loved exploring how different colours sit next to each other, the magic of the colour wheel, and the added textures of the gel pens. I always love learning new things ✨⠀
What do you like learning about?⠀
238/365 – Down Time – Even through my down time I’m still being creative. I’ve got around 5 different cross stitch kits that I’m working my way through depending on which area of the house I’m in! This one is a little confusing so I’ve been colouring in the squares as I go on a copy of the pattern
239/365 – Slow Going – I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have bad days, I feel like I have them rather a lot. But Project 365 is getting me creative no matter what. This is just a simple sketchbook spread but I got to play with some new pens that will be put to good use over the next few months!⠀
240/365 – New Pens – I’ve always loved getting some new craft supplies and I treated myself to some gold, silver, white and black Posca pens for future exciting things (that I will be announcing soon). I decided to have a play and realised the red versus blue felt very Montague versus Capulet.⠀
Does anyone else get the same vibes?
241/365 – False Light – I love photographing with natural light but I forgot to take a photo of this one before the evening light. The pattern is inspired by a retro puzzle book I recently got with a puzzle called ‘no four in a row’, where no four noughts or crosses can be in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally!
242/365 – The Other Side – So after doing this pair, I really want to make a little series like I did with Configuration. To bring maths and art closer. As much as I’ve enjoyed doing Project 365, I’m ready to dive into bigger, longer term pieces. I’m going to continue until the end because I’m determined and I can’t wait to see what else I can do in 2021! ⠀
243/365 – Another One – Thought I’d do a little update on another cross stitch I’m working on. I started on the top left corner, got a bit bored and started on the bottom corners, and now I’ve gone back to the sky and fill in the bigger blocks of colour. I enjoy doing this one in the evenings as the printed pattern means I don’t have to concentrate as much as with other kits!⠀
Do you think I’ll be able to finish it in time to get it framed for Christmas? 

Project 365: July

Project 365 is a 2021 project in which I aim to produce an artwork a day and sharing it. These will range from sketches to paintings to sculptures. Some are available to purchase on my store, and some are experiments with materials. This experimentation will expand my knowledge of how I can use materials within larger artworks and expand my practice as an artist.

July was a month of experimentation of colour and material. I tried my first vehicle drawings, explored painting and drawing on book pages, as well as exploring my new Cricut and Lego collection. Getting serious about products changed the way I looked at the way I created some items, such as earrings and cards. July saw me on a creating binge to bring together a larger collection that I could sell at craft fairs, events, and online.

182/365 – Change – I’ve been speaking a lot about changes in my style, changes in what I paint, as well as changes in my own life. I’ve got a new job, I’ve created new products and even created a change in my habits, which, will all put me in a good step forward. There’s so many good things happening for my close friends too, and I’m so proud of them all!⠀
This is one of two tote canvas bags that I’ve painted recently with an original design. I might put them up on my Etsy or sell them at a couple of fairs that I’ll be attending soon!⠀
183/365 – Continue – I’m continuing the something different theme of this month with a mini collection of classic vehicle drawings that I’ve been doing. I’m hoping to attend a vintage fair early August, so this collection will travel with me as greetings cards! You’ll be seeing a couple others later on.⠀
184/365 – Hedwig – I decided to take a break from the artwork that I’ve been doing and crack out the second Lego set that I got for my birthday. No regrets with becoming a child again to create this sweetie who even flies!⠀
185/365 – Book – I’ve always wanted to create artwork on book pages since college, when I drew a whole series of anatomy in bio pen on pages of Eragon. I whipped out a crime story of James Patterson, cut it up, and created some juxtaposing artwork to his story. What do you make of it?⠀
186/365 – Pair – This is the second of two bikes that I drew for my new mini series of greetings cards. These are great for those who love their vintage, classic vehicles, and who love a pop of colour! They’ll be with me at the craft fairs I’m attending next month.⠀
187/365 – Earrings – As you may have seen on my stories I have been busy making expanding my knowledge of materials and making new products! These earrings are one of a kind and I’m so happy with them. There’s still some improvements that I know I need to make in my process but I can’t wait to make more already! These will be available at my August craft fairs or DM to purchase now.⠀
188/365 – Leaf It Out – Yes, yes, the leaves are still here. I love this light blue with echoing blue dots. The pen glides so smoothly over this too! I’m working on a big collection of them behind the scenes so that there will be lots of choice in my craft fairs next month! I’ll be announcing the dates of those soon, so keep an eye out.⠀
Thank you for all the support after my last reel. I’ve got several orders processing and ideas for more artwork from you all ✨⠀
189/365 – Bookmark – I got a new toy that I’ll be experimenting with. I’ve designed a whole load of original bookmarks that I can’t wait to make ✨
Do you prefer to read digitally or with a physical book?
190/365 – Grease – I’m super excited to be going to a sing-a-long showing of Grease tomorrow night after a lovely day with friends in Oxford today. It’s the first big event that I’ve had to look forward to for a little while now and who cares that we will be sitting outdoors, we get to sing to our hearts content! ⠀
Are you a fan?
191/365 – Running Out? – I know, I can’t believe it either! I seem to be running out of backgrounds that I painted. I must have made over 150 of them, both in book pages and plain pages. This is a great sign for anyone who wants to collect one to do so now while the collection is at its biggest! ⠀
I’m also thinking about doing a lucky dip of these on Etsy. What do you think?
192/365 – Bag II – This is the second tote bag that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago! I’ve just polished this one up and it’s lovely bright colours make me think of flower borders and days on the beach. What do you think of this original design?⠀
193/365 – Making – I’ve been prepping lots behind the scenes for bookmarks, earrings, craft fairs and an Etsy update at the end of the month. But I haven’t sat down and truly made anything for a while. Decided to change that and have an earring making session after work which has produced these fabulous hoops and studs!
194/365 – Colouring – Am I am artist with several colouring books and a stack of colouring sheets in my bookshelf? Yes, yes I am. I love taking a step back but still being creative, and I find that doing a colouring page really nails that!
What do you do to relax?
195/365 – Mark It – You’ll be getting a mini spam of products I’ve been working on for my first Etsy update and craft fairs next month! I’ve designed six different bookmarks which will be available with various background colours. There’s over 15 colour combinations 😍
I promise I won’t be salesy forever, just super excited!
196/365 – Dangle – As you all loved the progress of these I thought you would want to see the final set! These are original one of a kind stud earrings with big dangling hoops. They’ll be coming with me to the @swindoncrickladerailway vintage weekend 😍
197/365 – Fresh – This one is fresh from the sketchbook and ready to be packaged. Love the bright pink on this, a tropical colour for this summer heat ☀️
198/365 – Leafing It – Did you know that there are over 250 variations of the Leaf series? My aim is for original art to be affordable for everyone. This is the prime reason why this series will be one of the most affordable for any who want to collect a piece of original artwork! Each one is absolutely unique and drawn, and painted, by hand. I sign each piece of work I do on the front and back, with a little message too, so you know it’s from me ✨ 
199/365 – Which Style Next? – There are several different things that I do when choosing what to draw on which background. These include picking up a Posca pen, randomly picking a background that I’ve already painting, and putting that pen to paper. There is no order, no thought, just a connection. ⠀
And don’t worry, you haven’t been affected by the sun THAT much – there are dots on this one!⠀
200/365 – Transform – I originally started creating earrings as I wanted to transform the work of the Leaf series into something else. With the fascination of creating in new mediums, I bought a lot of polymer clay and started creating. I only did leaves on yellow and blue, but I’ll be bringing them back when making the next batch of earrings, ready for my Etsy update and craft fairs next month.⠀
What colours would you like to see?⠀
201/365 – Read It – I’ve been using book pages from one of James Pattersons’ novels. I had a huge collection and in the middle of lockdown the charity stores all around were saying no more to donations. So I decided to make it into art instead.⠀
What do you do with your old books?
202/365 – New – I’ve had a lovely couple of days catching up with family and friends. Unfortunately I’m bound to the sofa today with a shoulder injury. I want to be creating but my body is telling me no. I’ll do a little doodle later or something ✨ in the meantime, I’ve painted ten bags with the leaf designs ready for Etsy and next months fairs!
203/365 – Another One – I’m a huge fan of a good cross stitch so I started another one the other day. I mean I’ve got around five on the go but don’t worry, I’ll still be creating in my other ways 🧵 ⠀
204/365 – Weighing Down – These little shapes are paper weights that I’ve got in various colours. I’ve also been experimenting with making them into magnets. They are made of plaster that I was playing with in final year. I’m tempted to do some bulbous shapes but I don’t trust myself not to pop a balloon at the moment!⠀
205/365 – Greens – Living in the countryside I feel so lucky to be able to look out the window and see so many varieties of green 🍃 ⠀
Join me on Wednesday 28.07 for my Etsy update ✨⠀
206/365 – Making More – Spent the weekend on the sofa with an injured shoulder, but good ol me couldn’t just sit around and do nothing. I made 28 original leaf cards, folded and packaged them up. I’m thinking these will be a lucky dip on Etsy, as well as selling them at fairs ✨⠀
What’s your favourite one?
207/365 – Getting Ready – I’ve been prepping for my first Etsy update tomorrow. These may seem like nothing but they’re crucial in the production of my earrings! All the backs are handmade – drawing, cutting, hole punching and writing are all done by yours truly. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
208/365 – Beep Beep – This is part of the classic car and bike collection that I’m building up. My parents owned several classic bikes, and going to fairs, I fell in love with all of them. It’s been a few years since we’ve been but I can’t wait to take my other half to a few! ⠀
Do you drive?⠀
209/365 – Bright – I’m feeling like I need to get back to my sketchbooks and explore again. I’ve created so much for Etsy and my website and craft fairs this month that there hasn’t been much time for learning. I’ll still create to sell, but slightly differently this time.
210/365 – Big Steps – I took a huge step over the weekend and ordered all my stock for the fairs I have coming up this month! I have new products with me that won’t be available on Etsy or my store for a little while. I can’t wait to show you!⠀
211/365 – Throwback? – A little bit of a throwback to my news about bookmarks now being individually made. I’ve got more colours now! All I need to do is get them all glued together before the weekend. 10 down, around 140 to go? ⠀
212/365 – July – It has been an absolutely crazy month! I’ve prepped for three craft fairs, I’ve doubled the number of orders I’ve had and done so much all thanks to your support 💕 I’ve decided that in August I’m going to concentrate more on original pieces, growing my collections and working in my sketchbook again. I can’t wait to see what it’ll all bring. ⠀
I’ve even added to the Alphabet collection I started this time last year with a request ^^⠀
What have you got to look forward to in August?⠀