Maria is a painter in the morning and a creative innovation consultant in the afternoon. This means all day, every day Maria studies the creative process and how that can change one’s life and business. She firmly believes in fun and co-creation.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Maria! How would you describe your work to readers?
Thank you! I’d first say it’s meditative. I committed to daily meditation and started seeing a feedback dynamic between my Art and my meditation. My painting is an exploration of flow, time, and letting go. At the same time it feeds my other life as an innovation consultant, where I help businesses inject creativity in their offers in order to stand out.
Carrie: When you have multiple creative interests, how do you decide when and where to focus your creative energies?
I am a huge proponent for structures: structured interactions, structured calendars, structured rooms. Structure it all. Contrary to popular belief, structure is freeing and creativity-inducing, rather than limiting. I split my day. I don’t email in the morning. I meditate, paint and work on my hair illustrations. In the afternoon I do the rest: writing, meetings, course-design, social media, etc. Structure it all up!
Carrie: Can you describe your creative process to readers?
I am trained in design thinking, so that has moulded my understanding of the creative process ENORMOUSLY. Design Thinking goes: Research -> Ideation -> Prototyping -> Iteration -> Completion. It’s meant to be flexible rather than linear, too.
So, most people highlight the ideation and completion, but I am a huge fan of the least sexy bits: research and iteration. Things don’t happen out of the blue (you need a form of another research, even if it’s inwards); and things aren’t perfect from the word go (hence the need to accept imperfection and be willing to iterate and tweak lil’ things along the way).
Carrie: What is the first thing you do when you feel stuck working on an artwork?
Embrace it! I have series where I would literally circle bits that I didn’t like, and it would change the feeling of “stuck-ness” completely. I always tell myself: this piece is not perfect, neither am I. This is what makes this piece unique. I often also choose to walk away and start another painting, to gain a new perspective from the piece.
Carrie: Tell us about your in person workshops. Can you please share one story of positive outcome from one of your workshops?
Of course! I love doing the live workshops. On of my most favorite ones was to take the students from a Masters in Art History and get them working on intellectual topics… with their hands. We laid out key concepts in their projects accross the room and linked them with colorful wool, making relationships visible and tangible. I am fascinated by people who work around creative products (historians, marketers, etc.) yet they aren’t trained in creative methodologies. They ended up approaching and thinking about their investigations in a completely different way!
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
A MESS. Ask my husband, he goes nuts. There’s a plastic protecting the floor for the bigger pieces, liquid watercolor pots everywhere, loads of post-its and cutouts stuck on the wall; papers and books everywhere from my own research and experimentation… If you gave me an industrial-sized factory, I’d fill it up in a week.
Carrie: How has your life and its assorted circumstances influenced your art?
They influence everything, from the most practical (when and where I can paint); to why (I realized a tad late painting daily was key to me feeling happy!). I can’t help but weave myself and everything else in my work. I keep making connections and finding meaning that way. Sometimes it’s a blessing, and sometimes it’s annoying!
Carrie: How do you navigate the feelings of vulnerability that show up during the creative process?
I quickly realized I am super mean to myself. And I find it really hard not to be. Putting my work up on Instagram whether I like it or not, daily actually lets me relax: nothing horrible happens if what I do is not genius. At worst, people unsubscribe. At best, they actually like it. It allows me to gain distance with that nasty inner voice. Also, meditation helps with the relativity needed to do that.
Carrie: How do you take risk in your art?
As soon as I get comfortable and start knowing what I am set to do and working on “perfecting” it, I stop. I am more interested in pushing myself. I’ve actually been told this can go against me because I don’t produce many pieces in a series, and collectors prefer to choose from large series. But since I am clear that I paint because of my own need to grow rather than to satisfy a market need, I indulge the need to try new things.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Mmmm. Quiet time. I am mostly introverted and I need me time. A lot of it. Whether it’s meditation, or studying, or getting massaged, I need those periods of looking inwards.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creating meaning by putting together two parts that have never met before: A+B=C.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Do you honor your need for quiet time? How do you take care of your need to “look inwards?” I want to know! Talk about it in the comments below.