I recently heard a neuroscientist explain the function of the brain.


Basically our brain has two main challenges.

1. Absorbing, filtering and rearranging information so that we can understand it,

2. and trying to save calories so that we can thrive and survive.


Number two surprised me. Saving energy is a major function of my brain and if I think about it this is actually quite logical. If we had no energy saving mechanism we would all be burnt out long ago.


Because artists seem to be some of the most exhausted people I know these tips will help you conquer the fatigue fight and have energy to CREATE.


1. Routine, routine, routine – Create a life of rituals

As an artist I do not like schedules. I love the unknown, the unexpected and the undiscovered. All good things you would say but actually it is exhausting. For a long time I was convinced that I was more free if I did not plan things. Just go with the flow and see where my creativity takes me. But the reverse is true.


Have you ever wondered why you get your best ideas in the shower? You have showered your whole life, you know the moves and you don’t have to think about it! This routine gives your mind the freedom to think about other things and sometimes come up with amazing solutions or ideas…right there in your bathroom.


Create rituals that you stick to every day. What works for the shower is also true for the routine you learn as you lay out your paint on your pallet or how you structure your email inbox or the frequency you check your phone. Because you have incorporated them into your daily routine you don’t have to think about them as much, saving you plenty of calories to actually CREATE!


2. Time-out is part of your creative process

I always love watching top athletes in action. I read their books and admire their perseverance as they pursue their goals. As artists and entrepreneurs we can learn from them.


I last read that Olympic athletes consider sleep a vital part of their training. They don’t only schedule running laps around the track or pushing weights at the gym but they also schedule the hours they sleep.


In order to be a good, healthy and happy artists we need to value our downtime. Our time-out is an integral part of our creative process. Spending time in nature, walking the dog, sleeping, daydreaming or visiting friends are all fuel for our creativity.


3. Journal – get rid of all those negative vibes

As artists we are picking up vibes all the time. We are sponges for the good, the bad and the ugly and it is the bad and the ugly that seems to stick to us more than the good. These bad vibes suck us dry and are a disaster for our creativity.


An exercise I regularly practice is ‘Morning Pages’, a ritual I first read about in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way. The exercise is simple. Buy yourself a notebook and before you start out in the morning write three pages. Without thinking about it, fill the pages with the first things that come into your head. It is not for anybody to read, it does not need to make sense or sell as a bestseller. Just write…all your thoughts…the good, the bad and the ugly. It is quite liberating and will clean away the noise in your head and get you ready to be creative.


4. Find your sweet spot

We all need different things in order to feel happy and fulfilled. These needs can come from our childhood or simply resonate from whom we are.


Because I was born and raised in Africa I always loved expansive nature and sunshine. When I first moved to The Netherlands this proved to be quite a challenge and often in the winter months I would feel somber, less inspired and sometimes quite unhappy.


I quickly realized that I needed sunshine and nature almost as much as breathing and eating. They are not luxuries to me but a priority in order for me to create. I have since found ways to compensate these needs by taking sunny vacations and finding those wide open spaces close to my home. As artists you need to find the things that energizes you and even though you may need to content for them, incorporate them into your creative life.


 5. Go offline

Social media is an amazing tool and even though the World Wide Web offers enormous opportunities for artists it has a downside.

I am sure if you are active on social media platforms you have experienced the roller-coaster of emotions when you place a posts, the warmth of the thumbs up from your fans but also the snarl from your critic.


The negativity or the fact that nobody is paying attention to your art can be very discouraging. You need to find ways to protect yourself from these voices, especially the critic living inside your artist heart.


Realize that no amount of public applause will heal your private rejection.  There are times that you need to go offline, close that computer and get online with yourself. It is only when you truly are at home with yourself and develop a strong sense of self-worth that you can counter these voices. The roller-coaster will no longer deplete your energy and rob you of your creativity. Find ways to be free to be your unique self and grow into the artist you were meant to be.


6. Nutrition is key

Yes, it is true that good nutrition will promote good health and energy but that is not what I am getting at here. You need to feed your artist. Inside of you is an artist that also needs attention, nurturing and creative nutrition. If this artist is ignored you will be left feeling empty and dry. Take time to schedule an artist date. A moment that you treat your ‘artist’ self with something that will invigorate, refresh and inspire you.


I love spending moments in my studio in which I just play. I put on some funky music, lay out a bunch of materials and start playing/ creating. Just for the fun of it. No deadlines or client briefs. Feed your artist self by just playing in your studio, or visit a museum or save-up to buy that art book that you always wanted to have!


7. Go with the artist flow – contingency plan

Living and working as an artist has its ups and downs. You never really know when you will get your next commission or sell your next painting. This makes it both thrilling and terrifying. Worry and stress can be an enormous energy thief and in order to stay sane and happy you need to create a contingency plan. You can save money in the good times so that when you sell less you can still live and work.


In order to survive as an artist you need to develop the flexibility to roll with the punches. Believe in your gifting and trust that if you put in the work, even in the down time, good things will come your way.


8. Inspiration at hand

Through the years I have filled up piles of sketchbooks. Filled with sketches of people and places I met and admired on vacation or while traveling on the train. When I feel uninspired and drained I love paging through my sketchbooks. It reminds me of what I love to do and the flavors and colors of my travels come right back into my studio.


As artists we are a visual tribe and images are our language. Make sure you have them easily accessible. Whether it is a sketchbook, a favorite insta feed or a mood board.


Surround yourself with creativity. You may not have your own studio space yet but designate a space for yourself where you can create. Whether it is a room, a table or a portable box.