Creative Practice in Tiny, Small Spaces

Creative Practice in Tiny, Small Spaces

Almost anywhere can become a place to make art, write that book, pen the play, or splash the paint. Space should not deter us from the act of engaging in our creative process. I can’t tell you that you’re without excuse. I can only share with you my stories of how I’ve made art or engaged in creative practices in super small spaces. When I say small, I mean not even a room. How about choosing to create on whatever space you find – 2×2 folding table or clip board included. Today, I want to encourage you to create spatial margin. It’s the kind of margin that’s as simple as finding a room to do your creative thing. Make space to do your thing.

Spatial margin doesn’t have to be fancy. You probably don’t even need all the initial space you think you need. You don’t have to drop everything and rent an art space. I mean, you could if you had the resources, but seriously, that’s not me – at least not yet. So I work with what I’ve got and create a sacred spot where I can have my artist dates. To be honest, this post comes from experience. I’ve had to create in tiny spaces for prolonged periods of time – weeks and months. Rather than get discouraged and bothered by it or making excuses, I chose to see it as a way to work on things that didn’t require me to spread out. It was an opportunity to explore various art forms.

What kinds of art can you make in a tiny space or a lack of room? Well, think writing, drawing, found poetry, coloring with pencils or markers, or hand lettering. These kind of practices don’t require much, at least for me they don’t, and even my lap has served as a desk more times than I can count. Specifically here are general dimensions I’ve worked within: the flip out table on the airplane seat in front of me, the 2×2 portable folding side table for over a year and a half, the 4×4 Ikea dining table I purchased for home, the corner of the bed when staying with family for extended periods of time, the top of my 8×6 journal. Was it impossible? Nope. I made it work, and with very surprising results. I was able to focus on the craft which made the lack of space a non issue. For instance, when I’m art journaling and depending on the stage of my process, I don’t need to spread out. The video below was done on my lap on the corner of the bed. It’s not impossible.

Because I did not allow myself to make excuses, I made some intriguing-for-me art that I wouldn’t have otherwise attempted. While staying a year with family with no room or space of my own and using corner tables, I painted my biggest painting I’d ever attempted – a 16×20. I know that may see odd, but I did it – make shift drop cloths included so as not to ruin furniture. The piece is called the Woman in Blue, and it’s my favorite thing I’ve made. In that same tiny space I made several smaller 8×10 mixed media canvas and art journal pieces that allowed me to stretch my creative muscles by trying new techniques. Around this same time, I took up hand lettering, specifically brush lettering. It didn’t require space, and all I needed were the writing tools. I was able to practice new styles and techniques to bring my words to life. The shift in focus allowed me not to be depressed or overwhelmed by the lack. I found abundance hiding in my focus, and without realizing it, I lettered and lettered and lettered some more. I took technical risks, gained confidence in my skills, and began adding a couple of items to my Etsy shop. Spatial margin creates abundance and fosters innovation, at least it did for me, and I think it will for you too.

Small spaces may seem like a constraint, but we can still blossom and bloom where we never thought we could. We are not impossible. Something of our mettle comes to the forefront when we are practicing creativity in thin places. Perhaps we find more of who we are because we’re forced to reframe our perspectives and look again for the beauty found in making, designing, and practicing. I want to encourage you to create spatial margin. Do share your stories. I’d love to hear how you make things work when conditions aren’t optimal.

Interested in purchasing a print of the Woman in Blue, you can find it on my Etsy shop: Art of Affirmation available in velvet giclee print or matte photograph print.  

In the month of October, I’m participating in the #Write31Days challenge. I’m focusing creative practice in the ordinary everyday mundane. Each day (or whenever I write) for the series I will post the link on my page for my #31DaysOfCreativePractice. Come along and read.

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