As a child, practicing the clarinet or math problems was something I avoided if at all possible. Practice meant boring, hard and repetitive work whereas I was curious and wanted to try new things and explore. When I consider practice today, it takes on a slightly different meaning and definitely more enjoyment. It seems nearly everyone has developed some sort of practice - one friend has a daily yoga practice, another has a meditation practice, and others have writing and creativity practices. Having a practice has become shorthand for both personal well-being as well as developing/building/enhancing competencies or skills.
As I've started to paint and create more regularly, I've been thinking a lot about what it takes to nurture creative ideas. While there has been a great deal written on this topic, I keep returning to some basic concepts in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way - you need to show up, do the work (good and bad), and keep trying new things.
So here goes...I have opened a beautiful new sketchbook to work on color and to capture little bits of nature from my garden or things I find along my daily wanderings. Each page allows me to look deeply at a plant or flower, mix colors, play with composition, try mark-making and lettering. And make lots of mistakes by letting go of perfection and turning down my inner critical voice.
Painting, even a jumble of flowers, is still hard, and setting aside time in a busy day can be annoying. But once I'm sitting at my table, with paints and brushes out, splashing color on gorgeous paper and being surprised when beautiful new shapes appear, I forget it's just practice.