Unleashing Your Creative Side (even if you don't think you have one)

The best way to unleash your creativity is to just start thinking of ideas. Don't worry about whether they're good or bad ideas- that doesn't matter. I hear a lot of people say they aren't "creative," and I think that's a bunch of baloney. We all have the ability to be creative, it's just that some of us use our creativity more than others. Kind of like how a bodybuilder has more muscle because they lift weights on a consistent basis. Creativity is a lot like muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. I’ve noticed that every creative idea I have compounds upon itself, leading to more creative ideas. Very rarely do I experience "artist's block," and when I do, it's usually because I went too many days without doing something creative...use it or lose it!

I'm bringing up the topic of creativity because I've been having somewhat of a creative renaissance lately with my mixed media artworks. After finishing my first pistachio shell mixed media art piece “One Eye Open,” I started thinking about other textures I could render by using the pistachio shells, opening a pandora's box of creative thinking.

Doing the lizard skin texture of “One Eye Open” got my wheels turning as far as what other animals I could portray with the shells. So, for the next pistachio shell project, I decided to use the shells as bird feathers to depict an owl for my “Aquarius” mixed media piece. This time, I also added some rhinestones among the shells to give it some sparkle. I followed a similar formula as before, by painting the owl eyes first on a 12”x12” wood panel and then adding the mussel shell beak with the acrylic molding paste. I arranged the pistachio shells around the eyes and beak and painted them white. After everything was dry, I added dimension to the shells/feathers with some light brushstrokes in black acrylic. I then glued the rhinestones throughout the shells and applied a coat of satin varnish to the whole piece. “Aquarius” has been purchased, but you can see a photo of it below and watch the process of how I made it by visiting my Instagram profile.


"Aquarius" is a mixed media art piece by Shireen Renee depicting the face of a white owl with purple eyes using painted pistachio shells for the feathers and a mussel shell for the beak.

After finishing “Aquarius,” I went on to use the pistachio shells to render things like hair, fruit, snakeskin, and fish scales. I think my favorite use of them so far is for rendering hair. The hair patterns can be done in so many ways, as you can see from pieces like “The Crown,” “La Lune,” “Jealousy,” and “Mermaids.”

Mixed media art by Shireen Renee using painted pistachio shells on canvas to depict a diamond back snake skin pattern.

Mixed media art by Shireen Renee using painted pistachio shells on canvas to depict a 3D floating raspberry.

Mixed media art by Shireen Renee using pistachio shells and oil paint on canvas to depict a closeup of strawberry skin.

I would have never come up with all these ideas for the pistachio shells had I not started with that very first piece. And trust me, the hardest part is just STARTING in the first place! It can feel intimidating at first, especially if you're trying something new, but once you can get past the starting point, it's starts to be fun. So, if you're one of those people who thinks you're "not creative," I think it's more likely that you just haven't really tried to be. As a famous shoe once said..."Just do it."

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