anna brones

writer + artist

Archive for the ‘Design + Creativity’ Category

Daily Creativity Prompts: April 2021

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A new month, a new list of creativity prompts.

These can be used for drawing, painting, writing, scribbling… whatever works for your own creative practice. Do them daily, do them daily-ish, or dip in every now and then.

You can find previous monthly lists of prompts here.

These monthly prompts and a lot of my other work are made possible thanks to supporters on Patreon. Maybe you want to consider joining?

Written by Anna Brones

April 1, 2021 at 09:49

Daily Creativity Prompts: March 2021

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Here is a new set of daily creativity prompts for the month of March.

Use these as drawing or writing prompts, whatever works for your own creative practice.

I’m still about a week behind on my own February drawings, so please know that skipping some days or playing catch up every once in awhile is very normal. Mostly this is just to give you a little guidance and encouragement for taking the time to sit down for a regular (or semi-regular) creative practice. Show up, allow yourself to play, see what happens.

You can find previous monthly lists of prompts here.

These monthly prompts and a lot of my other work are made possible thanks to supporters on Patreon. Maybe you want to consider joining?

Written by Anna Brones

March 1, 2021 at 09:35

Daily Creativity Prompts: February 2021

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A new month, a new set of daily prompts.

I personally use these as drawing prompts, but they can definitely be done as writing prompts too. If it’s helpful, set a timer: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes… whatever you can commit to as a daily creative practice. And not to worry, sometimes I play catch up too when I miss a few days.

If you post your work, use the hashtag #creativefuelpromptsfeb2021 so we can see them all in one place. You can see some of the results from January here

Written by Anna Brones

February 1, 2021 at 10:47

Daily Creativity Prompts: January 2021

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Creative practice keeps us active, engaged, and inspired.

Daily drawing prompts have been a bit of a saving grace for me over the last few months, particularly in December, so I made another monthly list to kick this new year off.

I usually use these lists as drawing prompts, but you can use them however you see fit. They could certainly function as writing prompts if you prefer that medium. These prompts are not really about what you end up creating—the value lies in taking the time to do them, taking the time to keep your creativity going. Maybe you’ll do them daily, or maybe you’ll play catch up every once in awhile. Take some time to figure out what kind of a routine works for your own creative practice. And remember that it often changes!

Here’s to kicking off good creative habits this year.

If you post your work, use the hashtag #creativefuelpromptsjan2021 so we can see them all in one place. You can check out some of the ones from December here

Written by Anna Brones

January 4, 2021 at 11:04

Sign Up for 24 Days of Making, Doing, and Being Digital Advent Calendar (+ Preorder a Limited Edition Print Calendar)

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I am doing my annual digital Advent calendar 24 Days of Making, Doing, and Being again this year, and now is the time to sign up!

The goal with this Advent calendar is always to create a little magic every day during the month of December, so that’s it’s not just a countdown but an everyday celebration. It’s a focus on slowing down, finding balance and contentedness.

While in the past, the calendar was intended as an antidote to the consumer frenzy that has come to define the season, this year I think we need an antidote for something different. We need an antidote for uncertainty, anxiety, loneliness, and the weariness that 2020 has left us feeling. Fortunately, the antidote is essentially the same, and I think that putting out this year’s Advent calendar feels more important than ever.

We need daily reminders to keep us present, to keep us breathing, to keep us existing, to keep us hoping. We need to remember the things for which we are grateful. We need to be challenged to create a little extra magic in what has felt like a dark and heavy 12 months. If there ever was a year where we needed a bit of seasonal magic to cheer us up, it certainly seems like it’s this one.

With that in mind, this year I am doing the digital version again, but I also made a limited edition print Advent calendar. There’s a daily card with a prompt (featuring versions of some of my favorite prompts from the last few years), something that allows you to just be in analog mode and create some moments of stillness and presence throughout the month. Anyone who buys one get signed up for the digital version as well. I will be sending them out next week, and if you preorder one now you get free shipping.

$5 will get you access to the entire digital Advent calendar. If you are a Patreon supporter of mine, you will get a subscription to the digital edition of the calendar for free.

I hope that you consider signing up!

Vote: 2020 Election Posters

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I have been making a collection of vote-inspired artwork over the past few weeks, and I have turned several of them into a series of free, downloadable posters.

All of these posters started as papercuts, made from a single piece of paper.

The posters are designed for 8.5×11″ and 11×17″ paper. You can download and print these posters at home and hang them up wherever you like. You can even color them in!

I want to encourage people to get out the vote, and I want you to do the same, which is why I am making these posters free. They are intended for personal use and may not be sold or used for profit. For those who are able/want to, you can make a donation or support my work on Patreon. And if you want vote postcards with some of these designs, I have those available for sale in my shop as well as the original artwork.

Head here to download. 

Written by Anna Brones

October 19, 2020 at 10:19

Vote Like a Motherf*cker

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We must VOTE.
My original “Vote Like a Motherfucker” papercut illustration was inspired by the words of Cheryl Strayed. If you have read her book Tiny Beautiful Things, you will recognize the phrase “write like a motherfucker.” In the 2016 election, Cheryl adapted that to be “vote like a motherfucker.” I asked Cheryl if I could turn her words into artwork in lead up to the 2020 election. 

This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. During the fight for the 19th amendment, suffragettes wore yellow roses to indicate their support. This yellow rose is a nod to the women who came before us and ensured that today we have the right to vote.

I turned this artwork into a “voter pack,” intended to remind you to vote, but also to take that reminder to someone else. Because we ALL need to show up and vote. You can wear your button and sticker proudly, and give the other button and sticker to a friend. Pass the voting energy on.
Postcards are 4.5×6.25″ and can also be hung as a small print on your wall/fridge/in the window so your neighbors see it. The pack includes a yellow, white, and black postcard. Snag one here. I am personally donating $5 of each pack to Fair Fight

Written by Anna Brones

October 4, 2020 at 12:31

Posted in Design + Creativity, Portfolio

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Armchair Travel Sketchbook

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“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”

– Twyla Tharp

What does travel do for us? We travel for many reasons. Sometimes it’s to new places for unexpected experiences. Sometimes it’s to well-known places that feed our soul, places that provide a sense of calm and grounding. Sometimes it’s simply because we need a reset.

Today is for conjuring up a little bit of the magic of travel without going anywhere. We’re going to do a bit of armchair travel journaling. A dose of travel without leaving home.

Supplies:

  • Pen or pencil
  • Paper or notebook

Optional:

  • Watercolors, markers, etc.
  • Reference photos or an old travel sketchbook

When I travel, I am not always great at keeping a travel journal or sketchbook, but when I do, I always love looking back on them. I think the main draw of a travel sketchbook is that when you come across a sketch from one of your travels, you always think “oh, I remember that day.” Yet in the moment, when you’re hesitating to put pen to paper, it’s so easy to think to yourself, “I can’t draw that.”

But no matter how quick or messy a travel sketch is, when I have looked back at them later, I have never once thought “that’s terrible.” Instead, those sketches evoke feelings and memories. They capture not just places but moments in time. They hold smells and sounds and textures.

Today we will focus on exactly that, and it doesn’t matter what the end result is. It’s the practice of taking yourself somewhere else through art.

There are two ways to go about this prompt, pick whichever one works for you.

Prompt #1: A meditation on place

In this prompt, you are going to pretend that you are in a place that you want to go to. Ideally it’s a place that you have already been to and love, because you are going to work on mentally putting yourself in that place.

Close your eyes for a moment and envision that place. Where are you sitting? What are you looking at? What temperature is it? What do you hear? What do you smell?

When you open your eyes, write a short travel journal entry, as if you were in that place. I think it’s helpful to choose a time of day for this journal entry, which will of course help to guide you with what activities you would be doing in that moment. It can also be helpful to make a little bullet list of all the elements your senses are picking up on.

Once you have done a little writing about where you are, what you are seeing, and what you are feeling, add some drawings. I think it’s helpful to focus on a few objects that help to capture the feeling of a place. So let’s say you put yourself on a beautiful beach somewhere tropical; focus less on capturing the entirety of the beach and everything that’s on it, and focus instead on a handful of individual elements that feel true to the scene. The blue of the water, a towel, a shell on the sand.

I found that after doing this exercise, it was clear from what I had written and drawn that I was craving certain things. Things that could be found in that place, but also things that I could do for myself here at home. So maybe doing this exercise will allow for a little introspection on where you are emotionally and what you’re craving right now.

Prompt #2: Take inspiration from a favorite travel photo

It’s always fun to go back through photos of where we have been before. Find a photo from a trip that you loved and use that as your reference photo.

You can choose to write about that moment, or draw it, or both.

When drawing, same thing here as above: challenge yourself to focus on a few different elements that you really want to highlight. Or maybe you want to let loose a bit and make a blind contour drawing based on your reference photo.

Whatever prompt you do (or maybe you do both!) I hope you enjoy a little armchair travel. As Twyla Tharp says, run away, even if it’s only for a little bit.

This was a prompt featured in Creative Fuel Challenge, a semi-regular newsletter with creative prompts. I usually send it out twice a week, and it’s intended to inspire a little but of extra time for creativity in your day. Sign up here.

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Like my work and want to see more? Consider becoming a monthly supporter on Patreon

Written by Anna Brones

July 13, 2020 at 10:48

Draw Your Breath

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“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.
Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Have you taken time to breathe lately?

Yes, I know you are breathing. You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t, but have you actively taken time to breathe lately? There is a difference, after all.

I do this exercise as a warm up in classes sometimes. A way to bring people into the present moment. Creativity, as I hope you have picked up on by now, is a great tool for that.

Breath is essential, we all know that. We have to breathe to stay alive. But breath is also essential for stress management. Feeling stuck in fight-or-flight mode right now? That’s not good for our physical or emotional health, and if we focus on our breathing we can actually work to reset our nervous system.

This activity is intended to bring a little more awareness and attention to your breath, to offer up a few intentional moments of calm. A simple practice that you could incorporate into any part of your day.

Supplies:

  • Paper
  • Pen, pencil, or marker

Grab your drawing/writing device and place it on your paper. Close your eyes. Bring your attention to your breath. Allow the breath to dictate where your pen and pencil goes. No rules for this besides following your breath. Maybe the breath feels continual, maybe it feels choppy and more like scattered marks. Draw for as long as you need to.

Open your eyes, look at your paper, notice.

Close your eyes again. Before you let the pen or pencil do anything, take a couple of deep breaths. Focus on the inhale, breathing all the way into the belly, and then letting that breath slowly come all the way back out. Keep with this deep breathing and bring your pen or pencil to the paper, allowing the breath to guide the stroke. Draw for as long as you need to.

Open your eyes, look at your paper, notice.

Breathe. 

This was a prompt featured in Creative Fuel Challenge, a semi-regular newsletter with creative prompts. I usually send it out twice a week, and it’s intended to inspire a little but of extra time for creativity in your day. Sign up here.

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Like my work and want to see more? Consider becoming a monthly supporter on Patreon

Written by Anna Brones

July 6, 2020 at 12:14

Mapping Imaginary Islands

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About a year ago I met my friend Paula Flach. We were both at a film festival together, and somehow our paths had seemed destined to converge. Since that initial meeting she has challenged me to see the world a little differently, to appreciate things a little more. She has become an essential part of my own creative process.

Paula and I both have an obsession with islands. In fact we had even applied for a collaborative artist residency on an island this summer. We won’t be going to that residency (obviously), and when I forwarded her the email from the residency she responded with this: “I guess 2020 is an island in and of itself.”

It’s true. This year does feel like an island. Remote, disconnected, solitary.

There are dark and bright sides to islands, they are full of allure and of fear. They are harbors of restorative solitude but also isolation. But they are also magical, special places.

When I first started writing these challenges, I reached out to Paula to ask if she would write a guest prompt that involved islands. She is really good at imaginative mapping, and I thought that this could be useful in pushing our own creative boundaries, in particular during a moment of separation and isolation. If you can’t meet with your friends, if you can’t travel to the places you love, if you can’t find a sense of normalcy, you do the next best thing: you create that place—you make your own island. 

We put together this guide to help you do just that. I hope you enjoy

Imaginative Mapping: Making Your Own Island
By Paula Flach

An island is an easy concept and can yet be infinitely complex. A world unto itself, an island can hold all the opposites, all the lightness and all the darkness within one confined space.

These days, we are required to spend our time exactly there—a confined space. But what could be a claustrophobic idea, can also hold boundless creativity. This is where an imaginary island comes in. A place that you can escape to in your mind, and on paper, and maybe even one where you want to invite others.

  • What would an island for you and your friends look like?
  • What does the island of your social distancing look like?
  • What does an island of solidarity look like? Is it really an island or rather a peninsula?
  • Or what does the feeling of isolation look like?

I have used imaginary mapping to scrutinize my inner life and literally map out my emotions, thoughts and beliefs. Unsurprisingly, it helps to see things a little clearer and creating maps of common places also elicits a feeling of togetherness which is essential for the human spirit.

Today we are going to map our own islands, as an exercise of imaginary travel to get us out of the confines of quarantine and social-distancing, but also to create the worlds we want to exist within.

Island Mapping Inspiration
Whatever island you choose to draw, here are a few  things to think about

  • Is it a single island or an archipelago? Will there be bridges that perhaps connect smaller islands?
  • Are there any ferries going to and from the island?Is the island in the tropics or in a colder climate?
  • Are there mountain ranges on the island? Or lakes? Rivers and bays?
  • Are there any roads, paths or is it all wild?

Naming Your Island
Run wild with ideas when it comes to the name for your island. The name of the island, and the ensuing names of all of the island’s elements, all build a family.

Naming Elements on the Island
Now we get to the details and inner workings of your island. Start by thinking about if there is a  feeling/a sensation/a sight that you long for. Make a bay that bears the name of it.
Then think of natural resources that can be found on the isle. What flora and fauna resides on the island? What kind of weather can you expect there? What is the sea around it called? Any straits that one can sail through?

How to Draw Your Island
If you are drawing with just a pencil you might add some contour lines to give your island an elevation profile. Maybe indicate some mountains, river deltas or lakes.

If you work with watercolors, play with the coincidental flows of liquid on the page. It might produce a wonderful mountain range or a natural bay.

Go Further
Drawing your island and naming it and all of its elements might be enough. But you also might want to go a little further. Here are some ideas:

  • Write a description of the island
  • Write the island’s history
  • Make a list of the flora and fauna on the island, turn it identification chart

Let us all meet on our imaginary islands and watch the waves crash against the shores and the sun set on the horizon.

A version of this post appeared in Creative Fuel Challenge, a newsletter full of prompts/projects intended to inspire creativity and art-making. 

Written by Anna Brones

April 24, 2020 at 13:09