What is creativity…

According to Wikipedia, creativity refers to the invention or origination of any new thing (a product, solution, artwork, literary work, joke, etc.) that has value.

New things can come from individuals or through collaboration.  Value can be represented as desire or it can be something more practical.

What do we get out of being creative? We get time well spent exercising out mind and improving our craft. We get something new. Something you can’t get anywhere else! Something to share. Maybe something to sell. Sometimes something that improves lives or saves us time. A good feeling. We get accomplishment and pride.

Do you feel like your life, work, and/or family could benefit from more creativity? Read on!

How to Inspire Creativity in Kids and Grown-ups

I am going to share with you many of the things I do that encourage creativity in our home, help keep me creative, and occasionally get me unstuck. It is not a scientifically proven method or system. It is more my beliefs and techniques compiled over my many years of art and design interest, education, and practice.  These things really work for me! I hope they will work for you too!


Get inspired by others’ creativity

Simple black and white graphic representing a film stripI once heard that Renoir said he was inspired to paint landscapes from seeing great landscape paintings more so than from the actual landscapes.

So, check out unique books and movies. Subscribe to online review sites to find out about what’s new. Visit the library and the bookstore. Do something you wouldn’t normally do like take in a matinee on a sunny day. Look for new things. Look at old things. Look at things you normally wouldn’t. Pick up things that seem unique or unusual. Allow yourself to get inspired! Listen to yourself when you say, “That is different”. Keep a notebook with you. Did it make you think of something else or variation or a new idea? Write it down! In the moment you think you will remember but trust me you won’t! As you are rushing home to make supper, forgetting to stop at the post office, and listening to kids complain about chicken again you will forget your good idea. Go to a museum. Go window shopping. Check out art and design, products and architecture. Take photos. Make doodles and jots. Allow your mind to stay open. Forget about staying on task. What you want to achieve to be supremely creative is to let your mind drift the way it does as you are falling asleep. Taking notes and pictures will allow you to come up with lots of ideas instead of getting stuck on just one. Starting with lots of ideas is really the key to ultimately narrowing to one great idea. Take your time. Allow yourself to get emotional, excited. We love children’s books in my house and often use them as springboards.

Want to see an example of how I get inspired by childrens’ books?  Check out Oops!

Experiment and don’t be afraid to fail

Simple black and white graphic representing an ink spill or mistake This is so important. Culturally we are really conditioned against this. We praise out children for achievement and success. We hand out raises to employees for the same. No wonder many companies struggle with innovation! When employees feel they can’t fail there probably won’t be many happy accidents happening. Yet our society really values innovation and innovators. Children and adults need to know that it is okay to fail. Like they say about the lottery, if you don’t play you can’t win! So experiment! Expect failures. Embrace them. Have fun with them. Let them go! Don’t feel like you have wasted your time! At home, compile a “creativity collection” of found objects like paper towel rolls, cans, bottles, bottle caps, other plastics packaging, packing materials, and odds and ends that you might otherwise throw away or recycle but could potentially be repurposed by you and your family for unlimited fun and/or practical use! Don’t forget to include some natural items like sticks, pine cones, shells, and rocks. Also have art supplies like markers, paper, scissors, and glue available and accessible. Allowing children free access to these supplies will encourage them to act on an idea right away when they are full of inspiration! Set crafts are great and fun and really do build technique and skill but make sure to also get out the arts and craft supplies for open ended fun! Play. Get in touch with your inner child. Creativity is like anything else. Some people have natural ability but you can improve yours with practice! Make sure to have quality art supplies which will help keep frustration to a minimum. There is nothing more annoying than drawing with crayons which are more wax than pigment!

For more on encouraging creativity in kids read… 7 Ways to Foster Creativity in your Kids and for more on encouraging creativity in the workplace read the article again!

Need a lot of ideas quickly? Try brainstorming!

And don’t forget to…

Take a walk and explore nature’s innovations!

Simple blue and white graphic of a cloud in the skyTake your time. Go with others. Go alone. I love pushing the stroller and sharing the experience with my kids before they fall asleep and then I get to enjoy a little quiet time too. Make observations. Pose questions. Daydream. Take pictures. Look at small things close up. Look up. Look down. Close your eyes and listen for a moment. But be careful not to trip! Bring something home with you like a wild flower, not your neighbors planted flowers; my kids are still working on this one!

Want to see what I came up with one day I decided to close my eyes?  Check out See with My Ears

And be creative everyday!

Photo of a classic black Moleskine pocket sketchbook You must exercise your creativity like anything else. You exercise your body for 20 minutes (or at least you intend to); you have your kids practice their musical instrument for 20 minutes, so how about your creativity! Keep a sketchbook or notebook. Cut out magazine and newspaper articles and pictures. Tape them in your book. Make a point to add to it every day (and not just your to-do lists!) Be serious. Be silly. Keep it to yourself or share it!

Looking for more of a method?  I tried out My Artist’s Way Toolkit which is the online version of the popular book.  Read my impression here.

What did I forget?

Is there something you do that gets your creative juices flowing? Please share!

My background…

I have always loved being creative and enjoyed the creativity of others. When many kids moved on to other interests, my interest in art only intensified. After high school I went to art school and became a product designer, where for almost twenty years I have been getting paid to create in three dimensions. I still love it and continue to work freelance mostly from home part-time. With this more flexible schedule I can now explore some of my other creative interests like children’s books and nature photography which I share here, at Doodles and Jots.

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This page is linked up with Home+School=AfterSchool at Mama Smiles.  Check it out for idea on how to keep the learning going after school!



  1. These are wonderful tips! Thank you for sharing. What’s really key for me is to do what you said–“pick up things that are unusual.” If you can travel, do it. If not, browse antique stores, nearby towns, day trips. Break out of your comfort zone and experience anything that is out of the ordinary. I take a lot of pictures with my phone to help me remember things. Our brains are hungry for the different. Seek it out!

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