“When I teach, I create a safe container, a sacred space, for my students”: Sketchbook Page by Elaine Luther

Creative Sketchbook Practice Leads to Self-Discovery

I have this creative sketchbook/art journal practice, this page, above is from a few years ago. I was making all these container forms with the paint. “Huh, what’s that about, I wonder?”

I decided it was about that, that I create this container for my students in my classes, a safe space where they can create, where it’s safe to try new things. Not that I don’t push or encourage, but even then, it’s safe.

And then, in my sketchbook, I made this page:

Hold the Container for yourself: Sketchbook Page by Elaine Luther

That’s when I realized I was giving out so much nurturance to the world, to my students, and I’m also a mother, that there wasn’t enough left for me, for my art.

I took an entire year off from teaching. This was serious stuff, since most of my income comes from teaching. I made art, completely free of thinking about outcomes or goals. I took the practice of the creative sketchbook and moved it into my studio. And I made good art.

After the year off from teaching, I had my studio practice more established and was able to add back teaching, which I have “always” done, having started teaching metalsmithing while still in college.

Even now, I keep the teaching in balance, I can’t do so much teaching that there’s not time for my own studio practice.

And yet, the teaching gives back in unexpected ways. Whenever I’m stuck or in a rut artistically, it’s time to teach a new class and I dive in and learn a new technique and create a new lesson plan. Sometimes these techniques make it into my own art. And at the very least, learning a new skill has shaken things up.

That, and helping people awaken their creativity is inherently rewarding.

What’s the creativity tip here?

It’s to guard yourself. Guard your time, your mental health, how much you’re giving out. Realize that self-care isn’t selfish.  Doing so will pay dividends for your happiness, and your art.

Another tip is that creative sketchbooking/art journaling is awesome, so I’ll write the next tip about how to get started with that!