August 30th, 2016

Getting Started with a New Creative Project

Thoughts on starting a new…

Is there anything more chilling than getting started in unfamiliar territory?  With a new venture, new skill or new idea – there’s always a way of demoting its value as soon a more cosy option comes along.  I’m acutely aware of my distractions and nerves that appear when I start a new path.  I feel them strongly now as I write.  I love words and enjoy finding the right fit – in speech I don’t over think it, but in writing, my self doubt creeps in fast.

I do have some exceptions to this fear of the new and I try to recall them whenever I become the beginner.  Dancing and art and design, the fun and the work in my life – are somehow staying free from pervading doubts of the new.  I thought I’d use these more positive areas to tackle the issue of ‘getting started’. 

I love to learn a new dance.  Any style, I enjoy getting shown new steps, watching others move and trying to copy, responding to new music and old tunes – I don’t have to think about it too much and I trust myself.  Dancing stays close to my heart and frequent in my life.  Learning it as a child, I’ve had years of growing to love dance without concern for outcomes.  I share that because I’m certain our hobbies quietens our inner critic of self, gets us out of ourselves and into the world.     


Art and design, although hopefully still for fun, is also my place of work and expectations are higher.  When I’m starting a new technique or process, I think I probably shift the emphasis from being the learner to being the teacher of myself.  Maybe a trick to boost my confidence.  The nature of art and design means I’ve governed myself from day one – using a thankfully, still-full cup of curiosity.  The beautiful magazine Oh Comely uses this idea as it’s tag line – ‘keep your curiosity sacred’.  Look after this and the rest seems to follow.  My own, old adage goes something like – ‘I’ll get started when my curiosity outweighs my fear.’  So me staying interested is vital.

Looking and then doing, broadly sums up my approach to art and design.  Not editing or judging too soon, just experimenting.  My own obsessions have become clear – abstraction, colour, texture and shape.  That’s it.  That’s what I’m curious about.


In four years since starting my business C F McEwan, my words have always been focused on the label, the news and the aesthetic, which I have found difficult to describe.  Perhaps because I always wrote about the final outcome or artworks or products without letting the reader into the journey of how I got there.  Unsettled as I am as I write this, my intention is to share a little more.  Practical insight to this looking and doing, ideas people can try themselves for their own, possibly new creative path.  

I’m excited to develop some new online content which I hope will support other’s fears of getting creative.  To pick up a paintbrush regardless of an alien feeling and ‘I’m no artist’ mantra.  That’s what I hear around me – from adults.  Kids always tell me how they’re already an artist or planning to be.  If ‘I’m no writer’, writing this blog post, then in solidarity I’m battling the same thing.


I’m sure the reasons for continuing along a creative path are varied and often a mystery to the maker.  But whether it’s passion or curiosity that drives it, the will is there to be harnessed.  For me, looking and doing are constant in my life.  A studio churns away in my head as I collect and archive colour and composition around me.  It keeps me mindful and ready with a store of ideas. 

Long journeys can be fruitful – with lots of time to collect.  Urban and natural sprawl from the window to extract and mentally re-compose.  I gently configure plans without pressure to ‘produce’.  I’m sure this looking time is not always fully conscious and thankfully a safe place from censor.

What I think I’m doing is cheating the newness so when I come to the doing part – the creating of artwork, I’ve already started.  The white is page bypassed.  I already know what I’m curious about.  Notes, sketches, tear outs, photos, are all collected by the time I get to work.

I was going to skip straight to the doing part of my practice, in this, my blog-a-venture, offer some tips, how to, demos etc.  And I will.  But writing this has highlighted the bit before doing.  What does the ‘looking stage’ look like?  Maybe that is a helpful place to start the sharing of my work. 


In 2016 I carved out some time to pause – catch up on some website changes and plan next season.  That’s useful.  But what’s also happened…I’ve got a new phone with a better camera!  And a secret (to me) health app that’s been recording my walking steps.  Now I’ve discovered my stats page, I’m walking more to beat yesterdays score.  A camera and walking – seems a good place to share this weeks’ looking. 

My next post will focus on using walking to ‘find colour’ and then, in addition – discover new textures, forms and materials.  Armed with my new, not-too-flashy camera phone and comfy shoes, I walk 10,000 steps, up and around my August home in Scotland.  Not a Highland in sight, this is low key Scotland, the everyday, a town on the cusp of urban and country and that – as I will exclaim is my preferred creative dwelling.  I’m zoning in on the flowering weeds growing from roofs and local names scratched into tree bark.  I study gravel footpaths and the flower beds that get watered regularly – even on a dreach* day.  Skirting the line of faint neglect and proud upkeep.  

*Dreach ‘a dreach day’ (Gaelic for a day that is gloomy with rain) 


If you’re interested in the abstract, hidden patterns, unexpected colour ways then these posts will be naturally relevant to you.  If you’re interested in a ‘getting started’ process to navigate your own creative project, then keep an eye out for some ideas.  I’m embarking on a season of revelation.  I plan to simply to reveal more of my process.  How I move from 2d, 3d artworks to digital through to product. 

To hear more about my creative projects and how you can join in for yourself – sign up to be notified about The New Creative free mini course launching in January 2018.

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