Creative Thinking

Fall is a beautiful time to dream big, try big, and even fail big. I just finished up a free online art class that included some ways to view the world creatively. The instructor suggested taking walks in nature, paying attention to the different kinds of light you’ll encounter: filtered through changing leaves, dappling the surface of water, turning golden as the sun sets, billowing soft in the mist. You should try it sometime—you’ll discover a whole new way of seeing.

If you’d like to stretch your imagination and creative boundaries (even if you can’t draw a stick man), here are some ideas I’ve used in the past to get the juices flowing. They engage the right side of the brain and expand your sense of artistic freedom. Pick one a day, pack as many as you can into an artistic weekend, or come up with your own schedule.


  1. Make a piece of artwork for your home
  2. Illustrate the day’s Scripture
  3. Play with watercolors
  4. Arrange flowers (pretty weeds count!)
  5. Create a piece of jewelry
  6. Make something inspired by the first song that plays on shuffle
  7. Upcycle an item from Goodwill
  8. Make something you need for the house
  9. Write a poem based on your favorite literary moment
  10. Make something with someone else
  11. Fingerprint using only your non-dominant hand
  12. Create a mosaic
  13. Try something you’ve failed at before
  14. Find three boring objects around the house to dress up
  15. Make something that represents the season
  16. Melt crayons on a canvas
  17. Capture the ugliest thing you can and bring beauty from it
  18. Create art from book pages
  19. Make something that won’t last longer than a week
  20. Do a mixed media project
  21. Make something to give away
  22. Create a big piece of artwork
  23. Represent your salvation story creatively
  24. Make something you can wear
  25. Write a longer-than-normal Facebook post that matters
  26. Come up with a new song
  27. Plant something that will grow
  28. Illustrate a dream
  29. Make a design out of food
  30. Continue the picture where a photo ends
  31. Create an artist manifesto
  32. Make something you’ve pinned
  33. Freehand chalkboard art
  34. Do some blackout poetry
  35. Spend 20 minutes doodling
  36. Decorate rocks three different ways
  37. Research publicly interactive art
  38. Pop paint-filled balloons on a canvas
  39. Go for a photography walk
  40. Sculpt something (even if it’s just with play dough)
  41. Alter a journal
  42. Write a short story based on a random person you see
  43. Make something that brings laughter
  44. Work on an art project you’ve been procrastinating
  45. Draw the same thing five different ways
  46. Combine two famous pieces of art
  47. Invent a technique (like painting in the rain on one leg)
  48. Make something out of what’s in the trash can
  49. Use at least seven different shades of one color in a picture
  50. Make something spontaneous
  51. Illustrate a happy scene from your life that you don’t have a photo of
  52. Finish a coloring sheet
  53. Make a sign to send to someone using markers
  54. Create a piece of art as a peace offering
  55. Use an unconventional object as a canvas
  56. Complete a piece of art using makeup
  57. Do one work of fan art
  58. Dress like an artist
  59. Make something that communicates a trait of God
  60. Create handmade postcards
  61. Draw with your eyes closed and then make it look good
  62. Make three changes to a song you love
  63. Illustrate a moment of your day
  64. Create five prints of art quotes
  65. Make an accessory
  66. Write a short backstory for a famous piece of art
  67. Design a meaningful minimalist piece
  68. Curate a playlist that inspires your creative thinking
  69. Come up with an alternate ending for your favorite fairy tale
  70. Touch up three photos on your camera roll
  71. Sketch your bucket list
  72. Build something out of the food on your plate
  73. Personify an object in your house
  74. Illustrate your dream creative space
  75. Decoupage something
  76. Zoom in on an eye pupil and draw it
  77. Journal your biggest obstacles to making art and how a creative monster would respond
  78. Snap a photo of something simple but beautiful
  79. Illustrate the last paragraph you read in a book
  80. Design a literary character based on a relative
  81. Leave a piece of artwork in a public place (not graffiti)
  82. Sketch a day in the mind of your pet
  83. Find two books you’d like to read about creative thinking
  84. Design an alternate graphic for your favorite movie/TV show
  85. Make something from items found in nature
  86. Encourage someone else’s creativity
  87. Find a handful of artists who inspire you
  88. Create a local art scavenger hunt
  89. Illustrate a major Old Testament story
  90. Do a typography project
  91. Make something you’ll throw away
  92. Draw a picture using one continuous line
  93. Use a tea-stained paper as a background
  94. Create artwork that includes cheesecloth
  95. Incorporate bling into a piece of art
  96. Make your name look awesome
  97. Arrange paint chips creatively
  98. Marble paper
  99. Make something besides puppets out of a paper bag
  100. Use melted candle wax in a piece of art

Whew! Yes, I have done almost all of these. Some tips as you explore thinking outside the box: play music you love during your creative time. Give yourself permission to make a mess and to not produce something instagram-worthy. (No one has to see what you create.) These items could easily be turned into series (like poems from the 100 Acre Wood or photos of pancake castles), which would stretch your imagination even further. Feel free to do this with a friend, your kids, or Jesus—all three could be fun, so do what works for you. If you want to come up with your own ideas, start with a general concept (like coloring) and add one or two limits (like coloring your favorite socks on a newspaper). As you set creative limits, your imagination is forced into action, and you’ll start noticing your perspective change. What are you waiting for? Get busy, get messy, and get creative!

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