The Scientific Method for Artists: Find Inspiration, Get Motivated and Grow your Creative Skills | Kendyll Hillegas | Skillshare

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The Scientific Method for Artists: Find Inspiration, Get Motivated and Grow your Creative Skills

teacher avatar Kendyll Hillegas, Artist & Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Phase One - Observe Your Surroundings


    • 3.

      Phase Two - Discover Your Inspiration


    • 4.

      Phase Three - Form Your Hypothesis


    • 5.

      Phase Four - Build Your Prototype


    • 6.

      Skill-based Goals


    • 7.

      Next Steps


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About This Class

Inspiration is absolutely crucial in art making (especially for beginners), but finding what truly inspires and motivates you isn’t always easy or intuitive. Some creative-types have a natural sense of direction and inspiration from the start, some have to figure it out as they go. 

If you’re the second type, you might struggle with:

  • UNCERTAINTY — feeling a strong creative impulse, but not knowing what to do with it or where to start
  • FRUSTRATION — experimenting regularly, but always feeling disappointed and frustrated with the outcome
  • DE-MOTIVATION — struggling with motivation and frequently leaving projects unfinished; Frequently experiencing “art block”
  • LACK OF SKILL — try to draw, but feel frustrated and unhappy with what you make; skill level doesn’t match idea level

Sound familiar?

If so, these feelings are normal, and do not mean that you should stop trying to make art! You just need to find out what truly inspires and motivates you.

So, in this class we’ll talk through a 4 phase process for exploring and discerning artistic direction, and unearthing your deep inspirations. We’ll approach the problem like scientists and break it down step by step:

  1. Observe our unique surroundings and constraints
  2. Gather data to find out what motivates us
  3. Test our hypothesis 
  4. Make a prototype creative project 

Eventually you’ll discover what deeply motivates you, and plan out a creative project based on that inspiration.

Please see the Projects & Resources tab for more info.

Editing by Meg Potter: | Thank you, Meg!!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kendyll Hillegas

Artist & Illustrator


My name is Kendyll, and I’m an artist and commercial illustrator working in traditional media. My background is in classical oil painting, but I’ve been working as an illustrator for the past 5 years, completing assignments for Real Simple, Vanity Fair France and The Wall Street Journal. 

My illustration is used commercially in packaging, on paper goods and clothing, and in editorial applications, as well as displayed in private and corporate collections worldwide. My work has been featured in Supersonic Art, Anthology Magazine, Creative Boom, DPI Art Quarter and BuzzFeed.

I try to create work that is realistic, but still full of vibrancy and feeling. I'm probably best known for my food and botanical illustration, but I lov... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hello, my name is Kendyll Hillegas and I'm a full time freelance illustrator. My work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, in Oprah Magazine, in Real Simple Magazine, lots of other magazines and publications. As well as on packaging, so food packaging throughout the US, in the world, product packaging, clothing, greeting cards, retail merchandise, lots of different things at this point and I have reached a phase in my career where one of my favorite things to do is to share what I have learned, share what I know with you all. I do that mainly in two places, I do it over on YouTube where I do shorter videos, both logs and more structured videos as well and then of course here on Skillshare. I have learned through my years of creative practice and several years now of being a creative professional, that there really are two main types of artists. There are two main types of creative people. The first type is the one that really knows where they're going from the start they have a really clear sense of direction. They seem really driven by something internal and they often have a lot of success at a very young age and then the second type is somebody who maybe doesn't have as clear of a sense of direction. They have that creative call, that creative longing but they aren't exactly sure of where to direct it, what to focus it on. In this class, we will talk through a four phase process that I have used myself for exploring and discerning your artistic motivation, your artistic direction. The thing that really deeply inspires you as a creative person and for the class project we will dive in and you'll get to do this are really hands on, walking through each phase of the process yourself. Really learning to approach, discerning your creative purpose like a scientist. This class will end with you having a clearer sense of what your creative inspirations are. The things that really drive you and really motivate you to make art and that will enable you to tap into that deeper well of inspiration and motivation so that you can really lock in and get your skills where you want them to be. Get yourself making the work that you want to make that is really satisfying and fulfilling. This class ultimately is for a beginner who is uncertain. Who feels a strong creative impulse or maybe it doesn't even have to be a strong creative impulse. It could be a weak little fledgling creative impulse, but they're not sure what to do with it or where to start. It's for a beginner who feels frustration. Who experiments regularly. Maybe has even been experimenting for years, but always ends up feeling kind of disappointed and frustrated with the results and the outcomes. It's also for a beginner who maybe feels a bit demotivated or flat. Who struggles with being able to compel themselves to make art. Lastly, I think it's for beginner who is frustrated maybe by their lack of skill or maybe by what they feel is an inability to grow their skill. They are practicing and practicing, but the skill just isn't quite getting up to where they need it to be or they're not able to dedicate to it enough to get it to that point. So if you are feeling that creative call, however loudly or softly, but you don't know what to do next, please take this class. I have made it out of genuine love for you. I don't know you, but I have such a compassionate spot in my heart for people who are in that position because I walked through it too and I know how hard it is. If that's you, please come along and we will figure this out together. I can't wait to see you in the class. 2. Phase One - Observe Your Surroundings: Before you can start exploring, you need to first observe and accept where you are right now. If we're thinking of this like scientists, you need to set up your lab before you are ready to get started on this process. The way we're going to do that is we're going to observe and accept our own unique starting points and everything that goes along with those: limitations, particular constraints, your own life circumstances. Now, Noticing and accepting limitations is something that most of us don't enjoy doing. Most people tend to shy away from that a little bit because it just feels uncomfortable. Because of that, you may be tempted to skip this step to go right on to what feels the more positive or the more action oriented steps. But I would really encourage you not to do that. Really take this time to reflect and dig into where you are right now and what has been holding you back so far. You really need to have a clear, strong starting point and a good idea of what your expectations and limitations are. Picking up on my own story from the last lesson, after I graduated, I was trying to make all of these really big ambitious projects. Had no idea at the time but I wasn't following the right direction. I was following my ideas and probably if I'm really honest, my ego, the desire to make something really big and important that wasn't really following and listening to any sense of love or inspiration. It was all about the idea and the ego. I honestly, probably would've stayed in that place for quite some time. But about a year, after I graduated from college, I ended up suddenly getting very sick with what would later be diagnosed as an auto-immune disease. But I had a number of years of having no diagnosis and just being really frequently very ill and having this really sudden and very obvious impossible to ignore set of limitations put on my physical person, suddenly forced me to be more honest with myself about where I had limitations in the rest of my life. I had to be honest with myself that I had this tendency to start in on these big grand projects and then get really frustrated, pretty much with every project I had attempted since graduating and then would throw in the towel a really the first sign of frustration. I also was honest with myself that I had a tendency to choose those projects to gravitate towards those projects that felt really big or serious or important or deep and related that I tended to choose subjects content for the work that I was making. It felt there were things that I felt like I should be drawing or I would often think, If I want something to be deep, important, and meaningful, then that means I have to draw this thing. I was making a lot of my decision based on that and out of that place. Then lastly, I finally had to really accept that I was not doing well health-wise and that I had really limited energy and would need to be either in bed or on the couch most days. Those are my limitations and that was my starting point at the time. Now I want you to take some time to connect with yourself and get grounded and observe your own starting point, your own challenges, the things that have stopped you from making art in the past. Try to sit somewhere where you can have some quiet, where you can focus and really hear yourself think. If your life is like mine, if you are busy and working and you have small children, you need to schedule this time or even do it across a couple of sittings. The first thing I want you to do here, the first step for this phase is to notice and accept your feelings. I'll write out all of your doubts, all of your feelings, and reasons why you can't make art or what you haven't made art in the past. This can work really well, is just a brain dump. You can list it out if you like listing or you can just do words all scattered over a page. Whatever process feels the best for you, whatever feels the most natural, do it that way and try to just let whatever is going to come out come out and try not to monitor it or edit it before you're writing it down on the paper. This is going to be hard probably but try not to judge yourself, just except that these are your feelings right now. This is where your added moment. The second thing I want you to do here is to notice your own patterns. You're going to write out the things that you've tried before. Again, you can do list or you can do word, clouds or bubbles, or throughout the page, however you want to do it. What has been your typical approach? When you have tried to make that in the past, how have you done it? You could list out the types of media that you've tried, the type of styles that you tried. Whether you've done realism or abstraction or whatever, just take stock of how you have been trying to approach this so far. What are the different paths that you have gone down so far? Ultimately, what has been the destination that you are trying to get to? I would have written down sculpture, installation, painting. Again, try just to notice and accept these things. Try not to judge yourself, none of this is bad. This is just the way that you have felt so far, the approaches that you have tried to take up to this point, none of that is bad. The reality is that if you keep basing your artistic decisions, your artistic directions off of those things, it's just probably not going to get you where you want to go. We want to notice all these things and be aware of them so that they're not silently influencing what our decisions are without us being aware of it. The last step here is to observe your concrete limitations, the limitations that come along with being you. What is it that is in your life, your unique life circumstances, so your health. First and foremost, your health, your body, who you are, your family, your obligations, whether it's another work or another work and affect job, a full-time job, part-time job, being a parent, any constraints you have just try to be honest and realistic about those, what they are and the time that really allows you for a dedicated to art. This will ultimately inform the project that you choose in the next phase, It can be helpful here to also specifically note things like the kinds of supplies that you have available or what your budget is for buying new supplies if you're going to need new supplies and maybe even an honest assessment of where your skill level is at at this point and the amount of time that you have each day to be able to dedicate to art. Try to be as matter of fact as possible here. Again, this is not a good thing or a bad thing. This is just where things are at the moment. Now this can be a really challenging process, but try to push through it and don't cut yourself short on time. If you need to break it up into chunks, do whatever you need to do to complete this phase and feel like you have really done it thoroughly and done it well. Once you have done phase one, once you've finished the observation phase, then if you feel comfortable sharing that, you could share some of your notes, you could share pictures, you could type out what you had written and share that or even share a picture of your word cloud if you did it that way. Share whatever you feel comfortable sharing with the rest of the class. If you're feeling down at this point, because you've just had to slog through all of that, let me just encourage you by saying that for me observing and accepting my own limitations and being honest with myself about what my starting point really was was the thing that made all the difference for me. It was the thing that cleared the ground and made it so that I was able to really start with clear eyes looking for the next right step from where I actually was at that point. Up until then, I had been trying to go from step a to step Q or step Y even. But really I was at step A and I needed to find what step B was. Noticing that I was at step A, observing and accepting that I was at step A let me finally look for what step B was. That made all the difference in being able to stay on this creative journey. 3. Phase Two - Discover Your Inspiration : Now we are moving on to Phase 2 in our process, we're going to gather data about what motivates and inspires us. So for artistic explorer types, who are early on in their journeys, figuring out what the next right step is, what their step B from step A, figuring out what that is, is absolutely crucial in starting to build momentum or skill. We need to be aware of our starting point of what our point A is and we've just done that in Step 1 and Phase 1, and now we need the second piece of that, which is an understanding about what inspires us and motivates us. So after I get sick and I knew that I would have to change what my artistic approach had been up until that point. I was at quite a loss of what to do. Because if I wasn't going to focus my artistic energy on these big, deep, artsy ''important'' projects and subjects that I had been attempting to do before then what would I focus on? I genuinely had no idea. So I tried several different directions, new combinations of media, but I still felt many of those same feelings of frustration and really struggled with a pretty deep lack of motivation. I still wanted to draw, but I didn't actually want to draw. I don't know if that makes sense. If you've been in that place where you have the desire to draw at one level, but every time you think about doing it, you don't really want to do it, and the turning point came when I really finally let go of every lingering idea about what I should be drawing, what I ought to draw, or what I wished I was good at drawing, what I wanted to be good at drawing and focused on what I actually had fun with and what actually really kind of pulled me in as a subject and that was food. Ever since childhood, throughout Art School even when I was sick, I just loved food. I loved eating food of course, I loved making food. I love sharing it with other people. I love listening to podcasts about food, watching documentaries about food, sometimes watching the Food Network, I really loved Chopped big fan of Chopped. Most of all telling stories about food and hearing other people's stories about food and I was particularly drawn into stories about food that showed how much we were all interconnected as the human race and how food was this universal constant for everybody, for every culture, every person we all eat. This was a passion of mine from really as early as I could remember. There isn't a time that I don't remember being interested in food and excited about food. So at a most basic level, I decided to try drawing food simply because it sounded fun and I had never tried that before, I had never taken that approach artistically before. So I didn't know where it would take me what the ultimate goal was. I had no concept of doing editorial illustration or packaging illustration. I had no thought in my mind about doing it professionally at the time. I didn't even really know that there was such a thing as the packaging illustrator. I honestly didn't even know what style I wanted to do it in whether I wanted it to be realistic or looser and more stylized. I just came to it from the starting point of wanting to draw food and that was all there was to it. So for Phase 3 of the project, Part 3 of the project, you are going to look through your life. You're going to be the detective or the scientist rather to stick with our main metaphor. Combing through your life, looking for data, looking for clues about what it is that inspires you, what is going to be the next right step for you? So a good starting point is asking, what do you like?. What are you into? What do you like? What do you not like? How you spend your time? What are your hobbies? What are things that you care about that you're invested in? What would you listen to a podcast about? So be as specific as possible here. Again, you can do the approach where you listed out or you can just put it in a Word Cloud, do it however you want. Maybe like little post-it notes that you could arrange and reorder on a larger piece of paper. But really important here is to try to go beyond just art. Don't just list out a bunch of artists who you like or who you feel inspired by or whose styles you want to emulate. Really, if you do want to include some of them as a part of it, that's fine, but try to make most of what you're getting down. Most of the clues that you're writing down most of the data. Pull that from the rest of your life, from other areas of your life. Don't just make this a Pinterest board of artists that you're inspired by. Pull from your own data, from your own life, from your own inspiration. So another way to phrase this prompt and other thing to ask yourself is; what is something that you would almost always feel excited to talk about or do? So my board here, my little mood board, my list here would include obviously food. I've mentioned that, science of food, baking, especially pie, but really any sort of baking, visiting coffee shops, the season of Autumn, the ocean being outside, human behavior, culture, repeated patterns so like leaves and ferns, economics, Sufjan Stevens, melancholy music that's really full of longing. Talking about ideas, sharing my own and hearing other people's stories from childhood. Talking about family, feelings of nostalgia. That would be kind of a start for my list. But you could really just keep going with this into infinity, in as many different categories as you want. Really try to have fun with this one and let yourself loose. Another prompt would be, who are you? So who are you as a person? What do you like? What's your personality, more of a big picture person or a small picture person? What sort of attention span do you have? So my answers to these questions would be something like; introvert, probably more of a big picture in most of life. But I've learned that I am more of a small picture and detail person in art that was kind of a surprise to me. I have a very short attention span if it's something that I'm not interested in but if it's something that I am interested in I have pretty much an infinite attention span. So that's just a start and again, really try to let yourself loose on that one as these lists can be as long as you want, really spend some time doing this. Again, if you need to spread it out over a couple of days, if you have other things going on, do that, don't cut yourself short here. After you're done or if you're feeling stuck at any point, you can always ask family and friends to give you input, is especially helpful if you're asking them the question of what it is that you like to talk about all the time. So you can ask them, ''Hey, what do you see me the most excited in a conversation? What ideas do I seem to like talking about the most? What things do I like talking about the most?''. Then of course, once you have all of that written down, again, consider if you're comfortable sharing it in the class projects section, you could type it out, take a picture how ever you want to do it, just share whatever you feel comfortable sharing with the rest of the class. 4. Phase Three - Form Your Hypothesis: We are going to bring together what you learned in phase 1 and phase 2 of this process, your constraints and then your own unique inspirations. We're going to use those things to come up with an idea, a plan for art-making, and test it out small-scale on 2-5 pieces. Once I knew that I needed to stop making big epic meaning of life pieces or at least try to stop making them for a little while, and accepted that I would be doing whatever art-making I was able to do from the couch and not from a professional studio, and of course, gave myself permission to choose to take the next step based off of what I was actually really inspired by and really loved, rather than what I felt an obligation towards. It was easy to see what the next right step was and that was drawing food, of course. Now, the first food illustration I ever tempted my first hypothesis was a plum. I gave myself permission to not try to be too realistic. I was naming really for any realism. It just felt easy and fun. The only real reason I chose to draw plum was because it was food and I happened to have a plum sitting on my counter, and there honestly wasn't much more thought to it than that. I wasn't thinking about the meaning, I wasn't thinking about a larger body of work, I was just thinking about what I wanted to do that day where I was at with that particular piece. After I had finished it, I found that I was more curious and more open and more eager to do another drawing of food, another painting of food. I felt more openness and more curiosity than I did at the beginning before I had made the piece. With each piece, with each subsequent food illustration, I found that sense of curiosity and openness and love to be cheesy. Found all of those things growing with each piece, with each illustration. For the project at this phase, this is where you are going to really be testing out and hopefully finding the first little bit of traction and starting to build momentum on your artistic journey, getting you moving in that direction that is informed by your unique life circumstances and your real inspiration. The first step is just what we talked about, bringing together what you learned in phase 1 and phase 2, and you'll use them to come up with an idea or a plan for art-making that both pulls from your inspiration. It's drawn from your inspiration list, but it also respects your constraints and allows for those unique limitations that you have in your life right now. An example could be that you are somebody who is really inspired by animals and you love pets, and you also have maybe only an hour or two, a few times a week to dedicate to your artistic practice. Maybe you're going to start with pet portraits and in some quicker media or media that at least dries quickly. Some acrylic or water-based media or a dry media rather than something that takes a really long time like oil. I want to stress that this does not have to be complicated or fussy. It doesn't have to be some really big cohesive meaning or idea, a big idea behind it. When I say come up with an idea, I just mean something really simple, like, I'm going to draw this plum, or I'm going to paint this cat, or whatever it is, come up with that first step that works within your limitations. Something that you can actually do in your life, as your life is right now, and pull from your list of inspirations so that you're focusing on something, you're following something, exploring something that is inspiring to you. That at a basic level, you just enjoy looking at, and thinking about, and learning about. Then test that out, test whatever approach you have chosen. This phase could last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on you, what constraints you have in your life and how quickly you create, how quickly you make stuff. Now, this is really important. This is maybe the most important thing to take away from this phase is that with each piece you want to really pay attention to how you feel while you're making it and immediately after you've made it. Ask yourself, are you enjoying this process? When you're sitting down to paint or draw, are you enjoying it? Does it make you want to do this process more or do this process less? Do find yourself wanting to know more about the subject matter. Are you more curious? Ultimately, even if you are finding the process challenging and maybe not what we would call pleasant, do you find yourself at least feeling really excited and motivated to try again? Or are you feeling more of a sense of demotivation? If you find that your sense of curiosity and openness to that subject, to that idea is fading, or if you're feeling deflated, then go back to your list and try something else. Try pulling from some other source of inspiration on your list. Essentially come up with a new hypothesis to test. So you are doing it in the container of your constraints, but you're just putting each of these different inspirations. Each inspiration that you pull from, that is your new hypothesis and you're testing to see, okay, is this inspiration strong enough? Is this deep enough to keep me interested in the long-term, to keep me coming back again and again, making work, growing my skills, really gaining traction and motivation? Or is it something that I am interested in on one level, but I don't really have a heart connection to it? I don't really love it, so it's not going to keep me engaged in the same way. After you find one of these inspirations that you really do connect with, if you find that your curiosity keeps deepening with each piece, you keep wanting to know more, It's like a new friend that you have. You enjoyed them the first time you map them, but then you just keep liking them more and more each time and you keep wanting to hang out with them more and more. Or if you have tried and you've had relatively the same positive result each time, it is probably time to move on to the next phase onto building your prototype. It's normal to hit some small bumps at this phase, you may feel your sense of motivation waxing and waning depending on where you are in any given piece. But if at any point in this phase you feel really strongly demotivated or demotivated from more than a day or two, or a piece or two, even if you really like the idea, maybe you sticking with the example of the pet portraits, maybe you like pets, you like animals and so you really feel like, that's a good idea. I really should enjoy doing that, but maybe you just don't enjoy it. Maybe it isn't deepening your curiosity. Maybe it's actually making you feel defrayed, demotivated. Even though it seems like such a good idea, don't be afraid to let it go. That doesn't mean that you'll never re-approach that later. You may reengage with that idea, that concept, that inspiration later on and explore one of your other inspirations, something that will hopefully be a bit stickier to begin with and have it easier starting point. Then you would just repeat that process. Again, you are aiming to have a relatively good experience, an experience of growing love, growing inspiration across 2-5 pieces, and then that will give you a clue that you're heading in the right direction. Before committing to go at really big, really long in any direction, you want to make sure that there is some stickiness, there this something that you can stay with. Of course, if you want to make art in the long run, whether you are a professional or you are someone who is approaching this as a serious personal practice, without a doubt, you will have to push through struggle and work through hard times. This is not avoiding challenge or saying that you're never going to tackle anything tricky or difficult in your creative practice. But if you are meeting strong resistance within yourself pretty much from the beginning or within a few pieces, within a few attempts, try another direction first and see if you find traction that way more easily. I tried several directions before settling on food, and I can usually tell within a few pieces whether something was going to stick or not, whether I was on the right track. Interestingly enough, most of those things that I turned away from in the beginning were things that I came back to at another point when my skill level was different, when I had a stronger motivation muscle, when I was able to keep myself motivated for longer even when things are challenging. This may seem too simple, but the overall point here is, work on whatever is easiest for you first. Start at the easiest point first. If you are at A, go to B. Don't try going immediately from A to C, or A to D, or whatever. Start at the starting point. Start where you really are, do those easy things first, trying to do the hardest thing first, whatever your motivation for doing that is, really won't necessarily help, especially for beginners and it may actually make things worse and maybe more demotivating in the long run. 5. Phase Four - Build Your Prototype: We are at the final phase of this process, phase 4, building and testing your prototype. So at this phase, you're going to build on your momentum from phase 3, where you found out the next right step for you in working through those 2-5 pieces, and you have found you had a sense of continuing curiosity, growing love, deepening inspiration. You're going to follow that feeling and keep going in that direction for a longer period of time. Initially it was just that testing 2-5 pieces of your hypothesis, now this is your real prototype, you're putting it out into the real world. You're going to try making work within this framework, within those contexts for a longer period of time. Shortly after finishing my first few food illustrations, I decided to go even further down that path and deepen my commitment to that path by doing not just food illustrations but pulling on some of the more sentimental notes and drawing food that was from my own past or food that had fun memories from childhood. Since I knew I had a tendency to throw in the towel on projects that had really big, loftier or maybe more abstract goals. I knew I wanted a really concrete, doable goal, something that I could write down on a piece of paper, clearly communicate to myself or a friend and then carry out given the limitations that I had in my life at the time. I decided that I would make an illustration every other day and that I would post something online every day. One day it would be the work in progress and the next day would be the finished illustration, and at that point, I was sharing them on Tumblr and I wanted to do that every day for a year. Another part of my goal was that I was going to post these things even if I wasn't happy with the drawing because that had been another reason why I would quit on things or give up on things because it wasn't exactly how I wanted it. Didn't turn out exactly how I wanted it. Having this concrete goal that acknowledged my limitations, that was drawn, no pun intended, pulled from my inspiration. It was something that I had tested out a little bit, was really the foundation and the launching point of what would become my professional career as an artist. When you're exploring of this phase, you have your direction, you have experimented in these few pieces that have worked out well, you're more curious, you're ready to commit, you're ready to go deeper, further in that direction. I'd suggest trying something a bit shorter-term initially, maybe something in the 2-8 week range, not much more than that, and then gradually beginning to build to longer terms like six months or a year. Once you feel you've got your feet under you and are pretty competent that it's a good direction. The purpose of setting a specific goal like this is to build a safe space for yourself to experiment and to tackle challenges and really be able to grow. In the last phase, our focus was on finding that really easy accessible entry point. If it seemed like an entry point wasn't going to be easy or if there was some resistance, you would turn away and try to find a different one that was easier. But now that we have found that, now that we've found what seems like a pretty good point of entry, the focus is going to shift to being more about embracing the challenges that come along with that and building your strength and tolerance and skill as an artist. It is only natural unexpected that no matter how easy things were in the beginning, no matter how accessible that entry point seemed initially, there will be challenges and you may even doubt the direction that you're headed at the time. The goal with this set time period is to free yourself from having to make decisions when you are feeling that way. Having that framework in place. If you've decided, I'm going to do this, I'm going to go down this direction for a month, and then two and half weeks in you're starting to feel some resistance and you're struggling and you're feeling like maybe this wasn't the right thing. You know I committed to doing this for a month and I did it for and a half weeks already. I can keep going and I can learn to push through and to keep working even though I'm not feeling the really great feelings at this time. Because if you want to do art in the long-term, if you want to make art, whether as a professional or not, you will at some point need to learn to push through that feeling of frustration and keep working even when you feel that way. Having that constraint, having that little container in place takes the decision making out of the process so that you can focus just on getting through. Try it for 14 days, try it for 30 days, whatever seems doable to you initially. Again, I'm just reiterating, if you're new at this, try to opt for the shorter period of time. Don't feel like you need to commit to a gear just to prove something to yourself. If it goes well for two weeks, then you can try it again for four weeks. If it goes well for four weeks and you can try it again for six months and so on and so forth. It's better to finish one of these goals, feeling strong, it's really good to get a couple of wins under your belt to feel like you have successfully completed a few of these goals. Then you can continue setting harder and more ambitious goals for yourself, as you start to feel more comfortable. Even though one of the goals in this phase is to start to push through some of that resistance, push through some of those challenges, you still want to pay attention to how you're feeling when you're making these pieces. I'm not at all saying that, before you we're really in tune with your feelings and your emotions now you're just going to ignore them. No, you still want to stay really present to that. Say really aware of something is frustrating you if something is making you feel exasperated or demotivated. But in this case the thing is different is that you are going to try to keep making it regardless of how you feel. This is hopefully at this phase what you're experiencing, that resistance that you are experiencing is some generative resistance, it's a positive resistance. It's a resistance that indicates growth, and this is how your skill and tolerance are going to deepen over time. Tolerance for facing these kinds of challenges. However, if you find that you truly cannot push through, especially if you have a period, maybe you set this 30 day goal for yourself or two-week goal, lets say two-week goal. You set this two-week goal for yourself, and on day 5 or day 6, you're just feeling you just can't do it and you haven't made anymore art for a few days, whether your goal was to be doing it every single day. You've maybe fallen significantly behind and what your goal is and you're finding you just don't have motivation to keep going there. It is possible that you have gone the wrong direction.So if you find that your, your demotivation is so strong that you just cannot get past it even despite repeated attempts. Then I would suggest backtracking, back to the hypothesis phase, back to phase 3, and trying to figure out, if this wasn't really my real sticky inspiration, my easy starting point at this phase, then what's another starting point I can try and approaching it that way. Now, if you do have that experience, if you do have the experience of getting genuinely, genuinely stuck and not being able to move on and having to switch gears, that does not mean that you can't make art, and it doesn't mean that you have no attention span, or that you're lazy, or that your untalented, or any of the horrible things that you may tell yourself in that situation. It just means that you still haven't found your true inspiration, your sticky starting point yet. The hard thing here is going to be that you need to keep trying. If you hit that wall several times, don't give up, keep going back, keep trying, work through your list of inspirations. Then the one other thing I would say on that note is if you find that you are repeatedly hitting the wall, another thing that could be going on there is that you might need to dial back your expectations in terms of the scope of work that you're making. Yes, you can try switching gears in terms of inspiration, if your goal for each piece is to complete a 10 hour painting in whatever subject matter that is, maybe that's the challenge. You could try switching inspiration or you could try switching your approach. Maybe instead of doing 10 hour paintings, you're going to let yourself do 30 minute sketches. Now I've been encouraging you all to share what you have made throughout this process, whether it be the notes, or the images or sketches from the last phase, but I find that this phase, in particular the prototyping phase is some of the most important, the most helpful to be able to share it with other people. Of course I would love it if you share your drawing. You could share a written form of your idea, you could share pictures of your sketches, your drawings, your paintings, whatever it is you're making. But if you don't feel comfortable doing it there or anywhere else online, I would strongly encourage you to find someone else that you can share it with. Finding a way to share what you're making during this phase can be especially motivating and can help keep you on track. Of course, if you are comfortable sharing it online, Instagram is a great place to do it. Then of course in the class projects would be great as well because I really want to see what you're making. It selfish for me.I just want to see what you guys are making with this process. Then of course, it is also really helpful to others who are on this journey to see what you're doing, how you're approaching things, all of that good stuff. Keep in mind that once you have completed your initial goal, your initial prototype period, whether it's two weeks, two months, six months, whatever, you can stop and evaluate the same way you did after the hypothesis phase. You can use some of those same questions. Do you find that you keep wanting to know more about this subject or the media that you're working in? Do you find that with each piece you're excited, more excited to start again, even if there were challenges that you faced during the creation of the piece, do you find that the challenge or the resistance that you're facing is motivating you to keep going and keep pushing further? Or is it really demotivating and causing you to get stuck and maybe not be able to meet the initial goal that you set for yourself. If you find that your curiosity or openness has faded, and that you're not really motivated or interested in that direction anymore, go back to your list and explore a new one. If your curiosity and openness and love to that thing, for that direction has deepened then keep on going. You can maybe tweak your premise a little bit and commit for a longer period of time. If you finished a month, try six months, if you've finished six months, try a year. At this point it can also be really helpful during this process of reflection to go back to your inspirations lists. If you're noticing that there are things that come up for you, you're like, I really didn't realize. For me, when I was doing this process of food illustration initially, I wasn't looking that closely at reference images. I would draw from memory and then I started using reference images a bit more.There was one piece in particular, I still remember the process. I remember when I was making it, it was an illustration of a grilled cheese and I was partway through, I wasn't even doing this consciously, but I just noticed that I'm actually looking really closely at this reference image. I'm actually paying really close attention to this reference image, and I'm trying to translate what I see onto my paper. I was really inspired by that, I was really enjoying doing that. It made me more curious. It made me feel more attached to what I was drawing. It made that sense of love and inspiration grow, and I wouldn't have said that in the beginning. I wouldn't have said that I was inspired by you really close observational drawing or that I was interested in that. That wouldn't have been something that was on my list initially.I discovered that through the process or that grew through the process. I'm not sure which one of those or some combination of those. Throughout this process, if you can take time to go back to your inspirations list and add to it, tweak it informed by what you have learned in the process, that's a really good thing. 6. Skill-based Goals : So those are the four phases. Before we wrap up the class, before we talk about next steps and the class project, I do want to take a minute to clarify something related to goal setting. So far we have mostly been talking about creative project that are really inspiration driven. We've been talking about trying to follow what you love, what sparks curiosity and inspiration and a sense of openness in you. However, many of us will also have more concrete or skill-related goals like drawing in a particular style. Whether it be realistically or in a really stylized way or learning to use particular media like quash or watercolor and that's a very different feeling goal. These two kinds of goals, both the following inspiration and they're kind of chasing after inspiration and what sparks that sense of love and openness in you, and the following a skill-based goal. Something that is more concrete like practice of a new media. Those might seem like they're mutually exclusive, but they're not. They actually can work really, really well together. You have probably at some point heard some version of the artistic advice that you need to just put in the time and the hours and the skill will grow. You know maybe something about the 10,000 hour rule. This is a really popular thing that we tell ourselves. You hear it a lot, it's all over the place in the artistic world, and it is partially true. Time and effort can equal skill. Now the problem is that for some folks, especially artistic explorer types, and that includes me. It can be really difficult or even impossible to stay on that path for long enough to develop real skill, to develop those concrete skills that we want. Whether it be a style or a media. If no clear motivation for being on the path to begin with exists aside from the goal of developing those skills for their own sakes. Another way to say it is that if you are like me, just purely having the goal. Okay, I want to learn to draw realistically without anything else. That is not going to keep you motivated for long enough to actually do it. It's this kind of funny balance where yes, you want to learn the skills, you want to have those good skill-based goals, but you also need to find the thing that is going to spark your interests and make you fall in love enough with the process to keep doing it and to see it through to the end. So to reiterate what we talked about in the first phases of this process. Taking those initial steps out of, from inspired by a place of love is just absolutely crucial to enabling you to actually stay on that path that you've chosen for long enough to build those skills. If you do that and you find that inspiration, you find that path, the skill and the growth will actually happen and will eventually follow once you put in the time on that path. 7. Next Steps: Okay, so now that you have completed this four phase process, what comes next? The answer is that is entirely dependent on you and what your larger goals are. If art is a personal practice for you, and that's something that you're looking to make a living from or to do commercially, then you might decide just to go back to your inspirations list, maybe refresh it like we talked about, then start on some sort of a new hypothesis and prototype. Sometimes the creative journey can actually shape and change those inspirations as we talked about. If you are on this path as a personal practice, you can just keep walking that cycle, doing that process over and over again. I still do a version of this process today when I'm trying to direct my own personal projects. On the other hand, if you have decided that you want to pursue art commercially, or if you want to do it in some sort of professional fashion after you've been through this cycle a few times, it might be time to pave it and start thinking about where and how there could be a fit between the kind of work that you want to make and that you are able to make and the kind of work that there is a demand for in the market. For me eventually I reached a point where I realized I wanted to do packaging illustration. I started looking around initially just at the grocery store and then online and design blogs. What was coming out, what people were doing for packaging, illustration. Then I started to choose some similar subjects that I saw that of course I was still doing it in my own style, in my own hand, but I started looking at [inaudible]. A lot of jam packaging has illustration on it. I started drawing berries and more botanical looking things. That's a good example of pulling together some research into the market, into where it can be used commercially, but then also still kind of staying on that same path at the time for me it was the food illustration path and pulling those things together to decide what your next step is. Either way, this process of observing your surroundings, gathering data on what inspires you, what you find motivating, testing that hypothesis, and then finally building a prototype out of that, that process can be used again and again throughout your creative journey to give your work direction and focus. Of course, I've mentioned this several times already in each of the lessons. But another great next step at this point would be to share what you have come up with in these four steps in the class projects. So you can share some of your observations about your starting point, the constraints and limitations. If you don't feel comfortable sharing just the list that you put together. You could write a sentence or two, bringing together some of the common themes that you saw in your list. You could share your list of inspiration. That's really fun to see what inspires other people and to find out where we connect across our inspirations or where we might differ. You can share the results of your hypothesis, the results of your phase three, which would of course be those two to five pieces of artwork that you made in that testing phase, you could share the structure of your prototype. You could share just a little description, a few sentence description of what you actually decide to do for your prototype project. Whether it's two weeks of drawing race cars or six months of watercolor paintings of the ocean. Then of course, I'd love to see the actual results of your prototypes. Some of the paintings, some of the drawing, some of the work that you are making during that process. I'm always happy to provide feedback. The best way that I know to do that is to ask you what kind of feedback you need. When you are posting your class project piece, if you're looking for feedback or wanting some specific question addressed, please just let me know when you post your class project and I will do my best to do that. Remember that the longer that you do this process, the more times you work through this, the more you will see your skills improve on your tolerance for the discomfort and uncertainty that can sometimes come with art making decrease. Eventually you'll find that you're less reliant on that easy sort of sweet accessibility of those initial starting points, your initial inspirations, those things that were the stickiest, the easiest ways to get started. You'll eventually find that you're not so dependent on those. Because the more your skill grows, the more you will be inspired by the process itself, the more you'll enjoy the process itself. I've alluded to this, and mentioned this and other parts of the class too, but you may even find that some things that you really were not inspired by it all or that were just unbearable to you to draw or paint initially will become things that utterly fascinate you and that you spend hours and hours journey into and learning about and that's certainly been true for me. Thank you so much for taking this class. I hope that was helpful for you. I hope you bounce more clarity and direction and most of all, a deep sense of inspiration about where to take your creative practice next. I am so excited to see what you do with the class project and of course most of all, to see the work that you make and how you explore your own creativity.