30 Days of Unfurling - Day 8: Why I Always Have Creative Side Projects

It's not possible for me to be painting on big canvases everyday. Some weeks, I barely even make it into the studio. It is important though to maintain momentum and that is where I think having a 'side project' can really help. Something that's easy and accessible. This is the art that I often do at the kitchen table, on the couch or outside in the sun.

What I love about side projects, is that they are exactly as their name suggests, they are projects that you do on the side. They can bubble away in the background and you only need to stir them every now and then.

There's an ease that comes with a side project. It doesn't need to have a strict deadline ... or be complicated .... or even have a purpose. That's the whole point, in fact the real beauty of a side project is it's underachieving and unassuming nature.

Over the years I have had quite a few side projects. A personal favourite would have to be my adventures with pebble painting. My sister introduced me to the simplicity of painting on pebbles with an acrylic paint pen. No fiddly brushes or clean up! This really is couch art at it's best.

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Then there was the time that I decided to unravel the mysteries of watercolour. As you can see from the photo below, there was a lot of experimentation involved. There's something cool about having absolutely no knowledge about a supply and then just playing with it and making up your own rules.

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Gradually over time, I started to develop my own style of watercolour paintings. I discovered that I could create these watercolour worlds full of patterns and happy accidents. In fact, if you look closely, you can see that some of the designs I was making on the pebbles, I started incorporating into the abstract landscapes. See how one project can lead to another!

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After a while, I had so many watercolour paintings (many that weren't all that good) that I decided to cut them up and I started making collages. I never anticipated creating watercolour collages but I fell in love with the process so much that a new side project was formed and I went on to make a whole series.

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You can see how one project often inspires another. Without the pressure to perform, your creativity has a safe haven to thrive in. The smaller nature of these projects also makes them perfect for fitting in to busy lives. If I know that I won't be able to get into my studio for a while, I can keep the creative juices flowing with my side projects and then when I do get back into the studio, you can guarantee that I am going to bring plenty of inspiration with me.

So that my friends, is why I think that everybody should have a side project or two or three ;-)

See you tomorrow Xx