Art that makes us happy

Art that makes us happy

Sometimes, we just need to make (or view) art that makes us happy.

No rhyme or reason. No hidden meaning or multitude of deep layers. Just pretty, simple, understated things. Art that makes us happy, that makes us smile and forget what a mess the world is right now.

Lately, I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis. Maybe because my 30s are almost behind me but mentally I still feel 25. Maybe because I’ve been focusing so much on building my art business that, when things are progressing slower than I’d like, I feel like an utter failure. Maybe just because I’m tired and need a break.

I think that’s why I am ridiculously excited for the new Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. It looks so refreshingly bright, and simple, and colorful. It reminds me of childhood and a world full of imagination and possibilities. So, during a particularly rough evening where my mental health was, well, less than stellar, I decided to sketch Margot as Barbie. Then I liked the sketch so much that I finished it. Simply because it brought a smile to my face.

Have you done or seen something that makes you smile today? For no reason than to make yourself happy? 

No? Then what are you waiting for? 🙂

Portrait of Margot Robbie in her role as Barbie

Art that makes us happy: Margot Robbie as Barbie, wearing a pink checked sundress and wide-brimmed hat, and seashell jewelry.

Margot Robbie as Barbie. A prime example of art that can make us happy.

The creative life: 8 tips to make it yours

The creative life: 8 tips to make it yours

What does a creative life look like?

Creativity – noun.
The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.
(Oxford Languages)

Artists are the stereotype when it comes to living a creative life. People often picture a French beret and a paint smock splattered with color. The moody writer also comes to mind, drinking copious amounts of coffee while jotting their thoughts down. Or, maybe the photographer, jet-setting around the world in a leather jacket and Aviator sunglasses, capturing moments with wind-swept hair and a smile.

Despite those stereotypes, that life is not meant only for the “artistic elite.” Instead, anyone can live a creative life. 

Whether you are a professional artist, a hobbyist, an art aficionado, or none of the above, YOU can have a creative life. As long as you have the desire, I will provide you the tools needed. Keep reading for my top 8 tips on how to live a creative life. 

How to live a more creative life:

1. Stay true to yourself. 

  • Embracing what makes us unique ensures a diverse society.
  • Diversity in a community encourages individual thinking.
  • Individual thinking fosters innovation and creativity.

It sounds cliché, but—like a snowflake—each of us is one-of-a-kind. No one else is you, in your body, with your life and experiences. No one can mirror your exact thoughts, dreams, and fears. Let those unique traits guide your steps toward living a more creative life. Allow your individuality to color the way you interact with the world around you. Let it influence how you depict that world, whether on paper, film, or through music. 

2. For a creative life, look past the surface.

  • Finding beauty in unexpected places can expand our own perceptions.
  • Having perspective can reveal the hidden potential in other people or objects.
  • With deeper learning, we are able to take what we know and manipulate it to solve other, more complex problems.

We artistic types are a different breed. Our genetic makeup includes a unique perspective of the world around us. That perspective is what allows us to see things others may not. So if you’d like to live a more creative life, I suggest looking past the surface of whatever you come in contact with. Having a deeper understanding helps us to be more adaptable and understanding, no matter the situation.

3. Create something with your hands.

  • The act of making something from nothing enhances mental health.
  • Artistic creation also improves mood and helps to relieve stress.
  • Completing a personal, creative project brings a sense of satisfaction. 

Many artists, myself included, feel so much and so intensely that those emotions must find an outlet (or we risk imploding). What better outlet than to create something? Even if you don’t have a particularly artistic talent, find something you can do, something that you enjoy, and use those skills. Write a poem or gather your thoughts into a journal entry. Sketch your pet. Or, learn something completely new.

4. A creative life means making mistakes.

  • Mistakes allow us to learn, grow, and discover new ideas.
  • Our experiences, mistakes included, shape who we are as individuals.
  • Accepting failure frees us up to go after our goals without reservation.

Bob Ross said it best: “We don’t make mistakes. We make happy little accidents.” Such a simple change in how we look at failure can have a profound impact on our lives. Mistakes will happen. They are a fact of life. Without failure, how can we hope to grow and improve? So, instead of fearing failure, we need to acknowledge that it happens, then move on. After all, a life lived without risk becomes a life wasted. To live a more creative life, we need to take more risks.

5. Surround yourself with other creative people.

  • Creative friends challenge each other into continually improving our talents and skills.
  • Artistic people are a never ending source of inspiration and creative insight.
  • No one will support you and understand your struggles better than a fellow creative individual.

Success begets success. This is especially true for a creative life. By surrounding ourselves with talented people, we in turn become more talented. For example, when I see work from another talented artist, I immediately want to go out and improve my own skill. This is because who (and what) we surround ourselves has a huge impact on who we will become.

6. Do more things that spark passion

  • Passions provide a sense of purpose in living a creative life and can give that life meaning.
  • Having things we are passionate about helps us to be more resilient when we encounter obstacles and difficulties.
  • Without passion, we are much more likely to burn out, lose motivation, and feel unfulfilled.

We only have one life. Why waste a minute of it doing things that don’t bring us joy? Yes, life comes with responsibilities, but that makes the time we spend on personal pursuits especially important. Make time for who and what you love and find meaning in the things you do. After all, when you look back on your life, you want to be filled with satisfaction, not regret.

7. In a creative life, let yourself play and have fun.

  • Playtime as an adult releases endorphins, improves well-being, and reduces stress.
  • Play also keeps our minds sharp and boosts mental health.
  • When we play, we are present in the moment

Children need play in order to improve coordination, memory, language skills, and much more when they are young. However, just because we grow up doesn’t mean we should stop playing and having fun. Even adults are continually learning and growing. Play helps with our cognitive skills, our mood, our coordination, just as much as in children. So, pick up that ball. Play the video game. Get out the play dough. Just have fun.

Here are some ways you can have some fun in your creative life:
Seven reasons to keep a sketchbook – 20 awesome songs to spark creativity

8. To live a creative life, be curious.

  • Asking questions connects us to the people around us.
  • Curiosity makes us want to learn more, understand deeper, and that knowledge then fuels innovation.
  • Being inquisitive leads to happier, more empathetic people.

The final, but no less important, tip for living a creative life is to ask more questions. Be inquisitive. Don’t just take things at face value—search for hidden meaning and seek better, more thorough understanding of any topic or subject. Not only will you be more successful in life, work, and artistic endeavors, but you will also gain wisdom on top of knowledge.

Do you have any tips on how you live your life more creatively? Share them in the comments!

Protect Art in Your Home

Protect Art in Your Home

You purchased a print or an original artwork from the young@art shop. Now what?

How do you protect your art until it is time to put it on the wall? What do you do to protect your art once it has taken up its permanent place in your home? What happens if you move or need to put your art into storage for a period of time?

Artwork can be beautiful, but it’s also fragile. It’s best to keep your original pieces in a safe place so they don’t get damaged. The best way to protect art is with these tips:

Protect art from the elements

Keep art away from direct sunlight or artificial light. Sunlight can fade colors and discolor your paintings, while artificial light can make them brittle and damage the surface of the work. Further protect art by storing it in a frame that has UV-blocking glass.

Keep art in a cool, dry place away from moisture. Never display original artwork in bathrooms. No matter how well-ventilated, steam from the shower or bath can cause irreparable damage. When not on display, protect art by storing it in a temperature-controlled environment. This will help make sure that it doesn’t crack or warp over time due to weather changes, and avoid mold growth. It’s also important not to put your art near windows or vents, because these areas are susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels.

Make sure to avoid touching the art with your bare hands. The oils in our skin can interact with other materials and wreak havoc on artwork.

Protect art from dust and other debris

Using frames & sleeves

Frames and sleeves are a great way to protect art from dirt, dust, pet hair, and many other contaminants. Frames are particularly good for hanging on the wall, especially if you want to showcase the artwork as a centerpiece in your home.

Good quality frames do not have to break the bank. I have found a great site that provides custom framing options for decent prices. Check them out at:

young@art Dali reproduction painting with custom gold frame to help protect art from damage

One of my own paintings framed using

Upgrade frames with museum-quality glass

Glass adds an additional layer of protection, and museum-quality glass significantly reduces glare and filters the amount of light that touches the artwork.

Dust open-framed or un-framed artwork regularly

When glass is not a logical choice (such as with stretched-canvas paintings), make sure to dust art regularly. Don’t use a dust cloth, which has threads that can catch on rough spots of paint, or with a feather duster/stiff brush, which can scratch the artwork. Instead, use a soft, natural-hair bristle brush that is one to two inches wide and dust with a light touch.

Using mats

When framing, always use a mat to separate glass from the surface of the art. Use an acid-free matting system that will keep the piece clean and further protect the art from outside elements.

Also, make sure not to use too much tape or glue when framing your artwork. These adhesives can cause damage over time, especially if they’re applied directly onto the surface of the painting itself (rather than onto cardboard backing). I highly recommend the use of acid-free linen tape specifically designed for matting artwork.

Using protective sleeves

For storing art long-term, protect art by sealing them in protective sleeves. They’re easy to store when not in use, and they provide ample protection for the artwork inside them. (Make sure to use archival-quality, acid-free sleeves. Otherwise, the protective sleeves will degrade over time and interact with the paper and media of the artwork.)

Also for long-term storage: Don’t put anything on top of your work that might scratch or damage its surface (like another piece of artwork). It’s also best not to stack things on top of each other so they don’t get crushed under their own weight—this could loosen screws or break off pieces from underneath them!

Mount art on a wall with proper hardware

Like frames themselves, proper hardware can help protect art from fall damage. If you have a large piece of art or something that needs to be hung on a wall, make sure you use a frame that’s designed for hanging heavy objects or has reinforced corners so it doesn’t rip off the wall if someone bumps into it accidentally. Heavy artwork should be mounted on the wall through studs or using wall anchors.

I always recommend getting an original piece professionally matted & framed to ensure the highest quality materials, proper handling of art. However, if you’d prefer to do-it-yourself, there are several tips and tricks on how to mat and frame art for proper display.
I hope that these tips help to protect your art so that it lasts and can be enjoyed for generations to come!
Mind mapping: ditch the list & unleash your creative thinking

Mind mapping: ditch the list & unleash your creative thinking

Mind mapping: ditch the list & unleash your creative thinking

What is mind mapping, anyway?

A visual, organic way to organize information

Mind mapping fell into my lap a while back during a time when I felt scattered and undisciplined (or maybe I came across it while pinning random pictures on Pinterest, I can’t remember). Lists no longer worked for me, if they had ever worked at all. And, that is a difficult thing for me to admit. Because I, being the true nerd that I am, have always had a thing for lists. Or, maybe I’m a perfectionist… maybe I’m just weird. Either way, I love nothing more than planning things with nice little checklists. Sometimes (okay lots of times) I will even add a task I have already completed just to have the satisfaction of crossing it off my list.

But lists and I have a love/hate relationship. For one thing, order has always been important to me and if I thought of an item that belonged somewhere in the list but there was no room to add it – well, that drove me to distraction and I often had to rewrite the whole list from scratch. For another, I would often get so hung up on making the list perfect that I would never get around to actually doing any of the items ON the list!

But what makes mind mapping so great?

The *idea* of mind mapping has been around for centuries, but the term and the practice we know it as today was coined by author Tony Buzan: “A Mind Map is a visual thinking tool that can be applied to all cognitive functions, especially memory, learning, creativity and analysis. Mind Mapping is a process that involves a distinct combination of imagery, colour and visual-spatial arrangement. The technique maps out your thoughts using keywords that trigger associations in the brain to spark further ideas.” (From the iMindMap software from Tony Buzan)

Simply put, the process goes a little like this:

  1. You have an idea
  2. You write the idea in the center of a piece of paper
  3. You start to connect other ideas that branch off of the central idea as keywords, pictures, etc.
  4. You fill up the paper with these word-associations, which spark more ideas, and more associations.

Think of a mind map as just that — a map. Maps use roads and paths to connect us from one place to another. Mind maps use words, thoughts, images, and color, to connect our thoughts together into one cohesive idea.

Have you tried mind mapping? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, what are you waiting for?! 😉

Giving Up: How to Let Go and Let Live

Giving Up: How to Let Go and Let Live

Have you ever thought of giving up?

Let me rephrase that. I don’t mean giving up ENTIRELY (please don’t do that!). No, I’m talking about that fork-in-the-road intervention we all face at strategic points in our lives. Who am I? What is my purpose?

In all honesty, I have had my own “giving up” come-to-Jesus talks with myself many times in the past. Not so much, “What is my purpose?” as, “Why don’t people like meeeee?!” (Or, maybe I just had a mental breakdown and started talking back to the voices in my head. But hey, I’m an artist. We embrace a little bit of insanity.)

So how does giving up work, exactly?

1. Stop being stuck in the past.

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

giving up - illustration of getting stuck in the pastHere is my origin story of giving up (and finding freedom in doing so):

I began my journey as the kid who doodled all over her books in elementary school, then became the artsy girl in high school drawing anime characters. Finally, I graduated with a Bachelor in Studio Art, the budding artistic professional ready to take on the world. I have worked in graphic design, in preschool as an art teacher, and in all kinds of non-creative jobs scattered in between.

During some of that time, my muse stayed close. We were best friends. I had so many ideas, I thought I may burst if I didn’t get them down on paper.

Long dry spells inevitably followed. Days and weeks went by that saw me plagued with depression and anxiety and a constant struggle to find some sort of self-worth. Nothing I did was good enough. I felt inferior and longed for days past when things weren’t so complicated and hard. Giving up felt easy, but I needed to learn to give up the right things.

We should learn from the past instead of living in it. That way, when those dry spells inevitably return, we can be better prepared to handle them.

2. Give up on unrealistic expectations.

I’ve learned that universal acceptance and appreciation is just an unrealistic goal.
Dan Brown

Giving up - letting go of expectationsLike many times before, I found my footing again at the end of the dark hold of depression and anxiety. From then on I have spent every-possible-moment-since taking advantage of the inspiration. Painstakingly, I create quality content on my social media platforms. That includes making myself more marketable. I work tirelessly to grow my fan-base and extend my empire. Except that my empire is very, very small (really more of a village).

For a while that bothered me. (Okay… if I’m honest with myself, it still bothers me.) But, do you know what? I am learning that when I raise the bar too high, too fast, that’s when I crash and fall. Those unrealistic expectations can be killer to a perfectionist. And I have always been extremely hard on myself.

Which brings me to giving up on whatever measures of success have been ingrained into our brains from day one. So what if I have few followers? Those that do follow me, they are my people, my kindred spirits—they are YOU. And you are more precious to me than gold. Because you are real people who take an interest in what I do. You find value in the work I create (if not, you wouldn’t bother hanging around).

That means so much more than thousands of lukewarm followers who only stick around until the next trendy thing catches their eyes. And at the end of the day, I need to feel that my art means something to someone much more than I need to feel “popular.” If I can touch even one person’s soul, shed light on one dreary day, make only one person smile, I’ll consider my art a success.

3. Let go of what you can’t control.

You may not control all the events that happen to you. But you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Maya Angelou

I have spent years fighting for control. Control over my circumstances. Control over how others perceive me. Things that I can never hope to attain but that I continue to beat myself up over. I cannot force others to like what I do or force others to invest in my work. But I CAN foster relationships and build trust with those who do. Which means creating quality art for quality people, numbers be damned.

Sure, I may not have 100,000 followers. So what if I still have to have a day job on top of my art business? If I focus on the good things, the small wins, I start to realize that I’m pretty lucky—and extremely blessed.

What do you have a hard time giving up on? Let me know in the comments below!