What follows now is a systemic look on what tools and techniques I use for different creative activities. These activities range from digital painting, to writing, to drawing, to communication in general. I’ll begin with the tools, after which comes the techniques.
When it comes to digital painting, I work with three tools usually. First, there is the Wacom Intuos Pro, my trusty drawing tablet. Second, I use the Krita digital painting software, which is free and open source by the way. I think it is the best possible painting software one can get for zero bucks.
Third, I have Corel Painter, which is more for creating abstract and realistic works of art. Sometimes I do impressionistic works as well, and portraits. I got it cheap on Humble Bundle discount last year, and it has been great. Even though it is not open source, when it comes to painting programs, it is without a second for its brush system.
When it comes to writing, as I have already mentioned in my first post, I use emacs coupled with org-mode and various packages that make my life easier regarding it. They are all free and open source, and furthermore, goes nicely with the rest of my operating system.
On the editing side of things, I use LanguageTool as my main “fixer”. It’s great for enchancing text and editing it, because it has tons of different features, including style suggestions and paraphrasing. It can also be downloaded as an app for one’s desktop usage if the browser experience isn’t cutting it.
For drawing, I have loads of different sets. There are three pencil sets, ranging from 8B to HB, charcoal pencils, charcoal sticks, marker set, soft and hard erasers, a monoeraser, a set of pastels, notebooks, sketchbooks, and a mechanical pencil.
Of course, one also needs lots and lots of paper. So besides the sketchbooks, I have arcs of standard A4 papers, and also art papers separately for the pastels and charcoals. It is slightly thicker and more “enduring” than your print paper.
Now, for general communication, I only include it in the activities because to me, even the act of chatting in an online platform, can be seen as creative. Because you can use elements of story-telling even then. So, not restricting one’s self to the traditional arts and crafts, opens one to a broad range of things to regard as being creative. Cooking, making clothes, designing websites, are all creative in my view.
But as I have no toe dipped much in the mentioned, other than websites, they’re irrelevant. Anyway, now we can move unto the techniques I use throughout these activities. Though, let it be said that I’m purposely being brief, as I could fill an entire book on these techniques.
When it comes to digital painting, I’m kind of a hypocrite. That is to say, my patience seems to always run out in the middle of painting, thus I always rush the remainder of it to finish it quickly. And this is something I’ve struggled with for a long long time.
So part of my technique, is to make every brush stroke count. That is, to make them important and relevant. Not too much details, but just enough to sell the idea. And that seems to work most of the time, although I’d much rather spend more time on the pieces.
Another technique, or at least part of one, is to use custom brushes. The ability in both Krita and Painter to customize your very own brushes using the already available ones is so, so, good. I created a kickass set of brushes last winter, and I still haven’t properly utilized all of them. Maybe soon.
Writing, on the other hand, comes somewhat more naturally to me. I don’t have to rush anything per se, because I know that I can always edit it later and do it with relatively easy, thanks to the tool mentioned above.
Depending on the purpuse of the writing, whether it’s a poem, a story, or a non-fiction piece, I usually plan and take my time with it. Especially if it’s the kind of project I talked about in the previous post. God damn. But poems, in contrast, come out of me very quickly. Perhaps a little too quickly. But it’s not that I’m rushing them, like it is with painting.
Rather, it comes so quickly because the ideas just “flow” out of me. Whereas with a painting the idea is aleady there. What runs out my patience is the details. Now, maybe I’m just fooling myself there, and actually am rushing the fucking thing. Oh well. So sue me. (Please don’t)
Another technique I use with writing is what I call “the art of leading”. It’s the way in which you lead a story to the next thing. Something has to always happen. But while this is known as a technique, I bring in a subtle additions of my own to it. And that is that I’m already writing the thing as if it has already ended. But this is a rather difficult idea perhaps to convey.
I mean that when I start writing a small story, as an example, I intuitively already know where it has to end up. But I don’t exactly know how, necessarily. But the fun of it is to find out, as you go along. Which is what I am currently doing with this blog post too.
So the art of leading is knowing intuitively that the story is always going to somewhere interesting. You may not know until you actually move your fingers on the keyboard. It’s almost automatic. This applies also to having conversations with people. Only, we don’t tend to be aware of this on a conscious level. And so I make it a thing actively myself, where in chatrooms I tell little snippets, that are designed like miniature stories. It’s fun!
What is odd though, is that when I draw, I don’t seem to have the same problem as I have with digital painting. I consider it almost a zen-like feeling, when I’m scribbling down with a pencil. I’m in no hurry, I have nowhere to be. I’m just drawing in the moment.
Perhaps it is the fact that I hate using the drawing tablet. It’s cumbersome because of the setup I have. I would, if I could afford one, get a drawing tablet with the software showing in the tablet’s built-in screen. That would be much, much more convenient, than having to look with your eyes somewhere else from where your hands are moving the pencil. It’s highly counter-intuitive to do it that way.
So these are some of the techniques I use depending on the activity. I might migrate my essay on creativity to this blog, just because I think it does a good job on bringing all the points that are relevant in the creative life.
To wrap this up, all I can say is that when it comes to any activity where one is exercising their innate creative spark, there are three things one can do to get better at it. First is preparation, such as having a calm and relaxing studio, second is repetition, and third is to consider it playful and let whatever comes out of their fingertips, to come out no questions asked.