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Let’s make it a summer to remember. Today’s episode is about how to have an Art STAYcation. Even if you’re not traveling somewhere this summer for vacation, you can make awesome art memories at home. Today I’m talking about how to plan a memorable staycation, what kinds of projects are perfect for an artist staycation, and the benefits of doing an art staycation in the first place! For me, summer is all about creating fun memories and an art staycation is a way to bust out of your normal routine and dive more deeply into your art. Depending on how much time you have, you can scale up or scale down your art staycation — it could last just an afternoon, a whole day, or a whole weekend!!

Self taught artists, I hope you use this summer to express yourself creatively no matter where you are in the world!

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Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome back to the self taught artists Podcast. I’m Lauren Kristine, your host. This week’s episode came to me as I was recording last week’s episode all about travel, how to travel with your art supplies, how to be creative while you’re on vacation. And unfortunately, I don’t have a summer vacation planned for this summer. Bummer for me, I waited a little too long to travel plan and you know now it’s, it’s a bit too late and costs have gone up. So I know there’s some of you out there who are probably in the same boat as me, where we don’t have a trip planned but we do want to do something special for ourselves and take some time. Have a special weekend perhaps doing something creative. And that’s where an art staycation comes in! Of course, you can do an art staycation even if you are traveling this summer. An art staycation is really a mindset and it’s all about carving out time for you and what you enjoy doing, which is art.

Okay, but before we get to that, and all of the good stuff. Let’s go ahead and do our Review of the Week. This one comes to us today on Apple Podcasts from Fat Rooster Art. The title of her Review is “Just what I needed.” “As a Self Taught Artist, I often feel inferior to my peers in the art world. This podcast has really helped with that especially the imposter syndrome episode. Lauren, Kristine gives great tips on so many issues that I’ve had, and explains them in a way that is relatable and useful. I really appreciate this podcast and tell all of my artists friends about it.” Thank you so much, Fat Rooster Art! I actually just went to her Instagram @FatRoosterArt, and she is a very talented watercolorist. Thank you so much for telling all of your artists friends about it and thanks to several others of you who have been sharing about the podcast on Instagram this week. I saw a post from Kara on her stories. So shout out to you as well. Thank you, it really means a lot when you share about the podcast publicly because it does help me to grow. And the podcast has been growing a lot lately, which has been very exciting for me. I have not hit all 50 US states yet, but I know it’s coming soon. I’m still holding steady at 49 and waiting for North Dakota. It’ll happen, it’ll happen. But when I was actually looking at my listener statistics this week, I realized I’m actually closing in on another milestone, a much bigger milestone. I counted up, and I’ve had listeners of this podcast in over 90 different countries. So I’m really close to hitting 100 countries. Crazy! It’s absolutely mind blowing to me. Art is universal and I think all over the world there’s a need for artists resource and just knowing that we’re not alone in this journey. Obviously most of my audience is from English speaking countries because I speak English. So big shout out to you know, UK, Canada, Australia. I know I have a bunch of listeners there. But I also know I have a bunch of people listening in India, Germany and the Philippines. How cool is that? So a big hello to everyone out there, wherever you’re listening to all over the world. I am just so grateful and so happy to be able to have these conversations with you. It just means a lot to me. And I’ve gotten some really touching messages this week from many of you listeners out there and you just have incredible stories about art and what it means to you and it is such an honor that this podcast has helped you out in some small little way.

Alright, on to today’s episode: art staycations! If you have a free weekend, or even just a free day or a free afternoon, this idea can be scaled up or scaled down depending on how much time you have. Take an art staycation wherever you are, even if you’re doing art at your same kitchen table where you’re always doing art. Today we’re going to talk about some ways to make your art staycation special. I want you to be able to create a new memory at home making art. Even though you’re really doing the same thing that you’re always doing, but we’re going to do it in a slightly different way. I have a few different suggestions for you for how to make your staycations special and unique and memorable. So stay tuned.

The first thing I would tell you for your art staycation is to plan it much like you would have vacation. Go ahead and clear your calendar. Whatever time you have, block it off. Don’t let errands or cleaning or whatever other tasks interrupt you, if you can. I know things happen. But maybe you can arrange with a friend or your partner to watch the kids and just carve out even just a few hours for yourself so you can really feel like you are going on a trip somewhere and taking time for you.

If you’re anything like me, I will wake up on a Saturday morning and intend to spend all Saturday painting. But without putting myself in the mindset of this is a special day, inevitably, things creep into my day. It happens without me even noticing it. I’ll be getting my morning coffee, and oh, what do you know, the coffee machine is dirty? I meant to wash that all week. Why don’t I just wash that now and descale it and do that. Oh, well, while I’m doing that I might as well clean the sink. And, oh, the floor is dirty, maybe I should mop, too! It’s Saturday, I saved all these household tasks. …Nope! That is exactly what we want to avoid on your art staycation day!

So go ahead and put yourself in that mindset… Plan the day out like you are going somewhere and doing something special. Block that off, carve out time; That’s step number one. Then the question is, how can you make it feel like an art retreat when you’re at home? How can you add some novelty and make it special and make it a special weekend for yourself?

Well, there are three different kinds of projects I recommend for an art staycation. One is trying something new, completely new. Maybe it’s a new technique you’ve wanted to learn but you haven’t had time yet. That’s something perfect for an art staycation.

The second thing you could do is work on something just for fun. I love to craft. I don’t craft as much as I paint because I’m so eager to become a better painter and work on my painting skills and my color mixing skills and all of that good stuff. But it also means that I don’t give a ton of time to crafting projects, despite loving them a lot. So for me and my staycation, I think something just for fun might be exactly what I need. And that would probably fall under the craft bucket of activities. So that’s number two.

Number three. The third kind of project I recommend for an art staycation is a real luxury: It’s working big! Getting a big canvas, whatever that means for you, whether that’s a 16 by 20 or a 36 by 36. Giving yourself the space and time to work on a piece of art that is big and bold and different than what you normally have time for. I know a lot of us, myself included, are always trying to fit art around the rest of our life. It has to fit into the cracks and into our free time. And that means we don’t normally get eight hours to pour into one big painting start to finish. How cool would it be to start and finish one big painting in a day or in a weekend?! That would be really cool. It also then eliminates the need to start and stop and mix your colors again and get back into that same zone because that’s difficult to do. For me if I’m working big, I really need to commit time to it, because it is hard for me to get in that mindset and out of that mindset and mix those colors. It’s a lot to start and stop. So working big would be a special staycation activity for me.

Those are three different projects types, and I want to get those in your brain so you can start thinking about that as you listen to the rest of the episode. Because, of course, the cornerstone of an art staycation is the art project or projects that you choose to work on. But I really want you to feel like you are going to an art retreat and doing something for you and getting out of the normal routine.

I love routines, I am a creature of routines. I feel like especially during the pandemic, I started a lot of new routines around the house that I just love, because they’re so comfortable and easy. But the thing about routines is that you go on autopilot, and you’re not making memories, you’re not doing things out of the ordinary. And that is now what we want: we want novelty, we want something special! We want this to be a fun weekend for you.

So the first thing that I would tell you to do when you are planning your art retreat is think very carefully about the morning time, from the very beginning of the day, how can you start it differently than you might start a normal day, or even a normal Saturday, or a normal day in which you plan to make a lot of art? I want you to actually change the channel for your brain and signal to your brain: This is a different day unlike any other art day we’ve ever had.

So for me, that usually involves changing my scenery. Now I know we said staycation. So I’m not suggesting anything crazy here. I think it could be as simple as going for an inspiration walk. That is the first way that I might suggest that you change your scenery. Get out, go on a walk either to a place you enjoy a local landmark, or even a place you’ve never been before. Challenge yourself to really focus on observation. Open your eyes and notice all of the little details on your walk. When I normally go walking, I have my puppy with me, and my husband, maybe I have a podcast plugged into my ears, and I’m listening as I’m walking. And all of those things distract me from really observing the natural beauty that’s all around me. So when you change the scenery, I want you to really focus all of your energy into your eyesight, and that sense of sight.

If you can really channel your energy into observation, I think you’re going to signal something different to your brain and also set the tone for the day and maybe get some great inspiration for what you should paint. I would tell you to go slow, not rush. Notice the architecture. Notice the people. What are they wearing? What are they doing? How are they acting? What about the flowers? Are there leaves on the trees? What color are they? What shape are they? Look at colors and the sky and the clouds and how all of it plays together. That’s how you set the tone.

You can also take it a step further and go ahead and take some reference photos that you could use to paint from. One thing that I love to do when I go and take reference photos is set a photo limit. So I’ll tell myself if I’m somewhere and I’m taking reference photos, just take five photos or just take 10. And I do that so that I’m very intentional about what I’m taking a photo of, and how I set up the shot, and I’m not just taking 50 photos of the same flower. I’m doing myself a favor in that way by pre-editing. Normally, in my usual self, I take a ton of photos, but that gets a bit overwhelming because then I’ll sit in front of my paints and try and pick out a reference photo and there are 50 photos of the same flower and so I have to pick which one’s the best and which ones lighting I like most? Just go ahead and do some pre editing for yourself. Set a limit, whatever that is for you, depending on the time out there. If that’s five, if that’s 20, and just say, I’m going to take 10 reference photos. Challenge yourself to set up the shot, think about it. Be intentional, so as to not walk around the whole time looking at the world through the camera lens. I really want you to do firsthand observation, and, take the time to do that.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to go on a walk out in nature, or at a park, or in a neighborhood near you, go ahead and perhaps go to an art museum nearby, look at other artists work and let that inspire you. Another option would be an art gallery, if you have one nearby that you can visit. Whatever you can do to get outside and get to a different place and sort of put yourself in that art mindset and start observing so you can inspire yourself.

Another thing you can do is actually take a sketchbook with you, or take a little notepad and sketch, paint, or draw outside as a part of this process. For me, I go to my local park all the time, multiple times a week, but I’ve never taken a sketchbook with me to draw something there. So just the act of taking a sketchbook, sitting there, sketching for a few minutes doing a few little doodles, that is something different for me. And I could choose to expand on those ideas later at home. Or I don’t have to, it’s completely up to you. It’s just a way to sort of prime our brains and get it ready for our art extravaganza staycation.

Now, you know I’m in Texas, so I know it’s hot here. So if it’s too hot for you, wherever you live, to go outside, you can either go early, or you can do all of this from your computer. You could get on Pinterest and see what inspires you on there and make a special mood board to inspire your staycation artwork, or, you know some artwork you want to do in the future. It’s just the act of visually observing what’s out there, putting some new ideas into our brains. Of course, I will tell you physically changing your scenery is the most powerful thing. So if you can, just get out and go somewhere outside of your house, if you can! Pinterest is not ideal, but I throw it out there just in case.

So a part of this staycation is making sure that you are having a great experience and you are making a memory. Neuroscience and cognitive psychology tells us that our experiences are more enjoyable and we are likely to actually remember them better if they are novel experiences. Newness helps our brains to create more of a memory and you feel more alive when you are indulging in unusual activities. So that’s why I really am pushing this idea of “changing the channel,” changing your scenery so that you can do a little bit of this during your staycation. We are using neuroscience to our benefit.

Alright, so we have the first thing to do in the morning on your staycation, and that’s change scenery and get inspiration. After you do that, I actually put a trip to the art supply store next on my agenda for my art staycation. Art supply stores actually give me a lot of inspiration and I have a ton of fun walking around looking at supplies and seeing what craft projects I could possibly add to my never ending wish list. And my thought is well I’m actually saving money by not going on vacation this summer, so that leaves me a little budget for my staycation. I’m not talking anything crazy, but I was able to pick up a few new supplies to work on a new project to inject a little bit of novelty into my weekend.

So I do actually recommend this – if you can, go to the art store, wander around and find something new to craft, a new color to paint with, or just to inspire you. A trip to the art supply store is still cheaper than a full vacation. So it still fits the staycation criteria in my book.

Alright, but that leads us to the most exciting part of the staycation, the cornerstone, and that is deciding on your projects that you’re going to work on. I know I mentioned before the three main project types that I think work great for an art staycation.

But the first one, let’s talk more about it: getting out of your comfort zone or trying something new. A staycation can be a great time to take on a challenge. Have you been wanting to experiment with a limited palette? or perhaps learn a new subject matter? Maybe you want to try a new substrate? You’ve never before painted on a wood panel and you want to try it. Perhaps you want to try a different medium. That’s another great thing to experiment with. I have watercolors here in my studio, and I don’t use them that often. So pulling those out, I think would be a great way for me to inject some novelty into my day, get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

You could also do things like try plein air painting, and painting on location somewhere local to you. Or, if that’s too much hassle, you know, like it’s hard for me with my love of acrylic painting. What about doing a deeper dive into urban sketching, and setting up somewhere and trying that kind of sketching? There’s a bunch of YouTube videos and instructional things you can do online to learn some of the basics of urban sketching, and then go put it into practice out at local landmarks. Other things that I might want to experiment with in a future staycation are high flow acrylics. They are a different kind of acrylic paint. Golden makes them and they’re hard for me to explain – it’s kind of like an airbrush, but it’s not coming through an airbrush. Very difficult for me to explain. I don’t know, Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about; It’s called High Flow acrylic. Another thing that I might consider for a staycation is really diving into abstract painting. That’s something I always want to do more of, but I don’t always carve out the time for it.

So whatever that is for you, how can you get out of your comfort zone and use this block of time to try something new? That brings us to the second bucket of project ideas, and that is: just for fun. For my staycation, I really wanted to lean into just for fun projects. So I decided one of my staycation projects was going to be a wreath made out of palette paper or decorated with things made out of palette paper. Stay tuned. My art staycation is actually this upcoming weekend. We have Fourth of July here in the States, so it’s a long weekend. So I’m going to carve out two days to dedicate to art. And so I’m really excited I will get a wreath at Michaels, and they’re very cheap, and then use my collection of probably 100 pages of palette paper to decorate this wreath with. I am really really really excited for this. It’s just a way to do a no stress project. It’s more crafting-heavy. That’s fun for me. And it combines art with silliness and crafting. That has a way of just taking off the pressure for me. And anytime I feel no pressure, I’m feeling loose and I’m just letting my creative juices flow, that is the best!

Other ideas I have for just for fun projects include going to the art supply store and looking at the wood craft section. So locally, my art store is Michaels and they have a bunch of fun, cheap projects. They have have little wood trinkets, boxes, and photo frames, lots of different things that you can paint, decorate and put around your house. I have done a lot of the photo frames before and so that is something that I also highly recommend. They have these for like $1 $2, something like that. And they’re very basic, but it’s so much fun, and you can then put it on a bookshelf and look at it in the future and remember your staycation when you made it.

I love actually painting on different surfaces. And another just for fun project could be painting a reusable grocery bag. You know, normally I just use sort of a cloth one. It’s nothing fancy, I got it for free at some event. And I could go ahead and put acrylics on that and paint that – that’s an idea.

You could also paint clothing, you could paint a denim jacket. Or you could paint a pair of overalls or jeans. Go to the thrift store, go pick out a piece of clothing that you could paint and upcycle and use in your wardrobe in some fun way. Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to just for fun projects. Let your creativity shine here and give yourself permission to try something new and silly or craft. That can be a great way to create new memories.

Another thing I’ll add is that if you want you could also make your art staycation a social event, you could do this with a friend, you could do it with your kids, you could do it with your spouse. And when you’re using this as a way to socialize and/or you’re including people who don’t normally make art as much as you do, having a crafting angle on it can be a way to take off the pressure for your friends as well. They may not think of themselves as artists, and may be actually intimidated to do art with you. So by making it a craft, it’s a low pressure project and it can be great to do as a social activity.

The third bucket of projects is working big. As I mentioned, if you have the whole day or the whole weekend, this is a special opportunity to work big, if that’s been something that you’ve been wanting to try. It is hard to get in the zone when working on a big piece. And it’s just hard to switch in and out of that mindset. So I do think having this expanse of time is really helpful if you want to work big. It also then gives you a big accomplishment at the end of your art staycation you can point to as a big thing that you did. And it can also double duty as getting you out of your comfort zone, too! Painting big is a way to push yourself.

All in all, I think these are three awesome project types that you can incorporate into your staycation. And you don’t have to do just one. You could do multiple projects, you could do a bunch of small projects. Really, there are no rules for this. You can do whatever you want to do, it’s a day for you to make memories.

Another suggestion I have is at the end of your art staycation day, or weekend, or you know that Saturday night in between perhaps in the weekend is to cap it off by watching an art movie. There are a bunch of art themed movies out there that you can watch that just also keep you in that artistic mindset. The one that I recommend, and I actually just watched it a few weeks ago is called Woman in Gold. In the US, it’s on Amazon Prime free. I think they put some ads in there but you can watch it for free which is great. It’s a very incredible story about Gustav Klimt’s “Woman in Gold” painting. It’s a very famous painting. Its technical name is actually the “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” This movie talks about the legal fight to get the art back from the Austrian government after many years. It had been stolen from the family in Nazi-era Austria right before World War Two and the legal battle took about a decade from the 1990s up until 2006. And it’s, it’s a great movie. And it all kind of centers around this one piece of extremely famous art. I loved it, I thought it was a very touching story, but it also has art is kind of, you know the backdrop of it. So what’s not to love?!

That then pretty much caps off what I would call the perfect art weekend, the perfect art staycation. Block off time for you! That is what I want you to do this summer, and realize it doesn’t take too much money, or even too much time to make a special memory. You can do all of these things in just an afternoon, a day, a weekend. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a ton of time, but I know it’s hard to carve out time for yourself and what you love to do, sometimes.

I’m gonna go back also to this concept of making memories and novelty. Because I’ve been doing some thinking lately about how time seems to pass so quickly. And I feel like ever since the pandemic and life changing, I’ve felt like time has gone faster than ever. These past two and a half years, seriously just seem like they have zoomed by. I wanted to dig into why that is, and that’s why recently I have been reading a lot about neuroscience. I found some work by a neuroscientist from Stanford University. He actually said, in his mind, there’s only one way to slow time, and that is to seek novelty.

The reason this works is because new experiences cause the brain to write down more memory. And then when you read that back out, retrospectively, the event seems to have lasted longer. So when we “change the channels” cognitively, and we get out of our comfort zone, get out of our routine and do something different. We are literally sending a brain sending a message to our brain that we need to remember this, the brain needs to take note of what’s going on. Because our brains ultimately are efficient, they’re kind of lazy, and they like to predict what’s happening next and stay on autopilot. So when you seek novelty, it sort of jolts your brain awake in a different way. And you actually write down memories differently. It’s kind of like in a computer, you know, like it saves it in a different way in a more significant way and actually use more space. And that’s why when we go back, it seems to have been such a significant event. So that’s just one little nugget for you, that I’ve been thinking about and I just want to pass on to you is that seeking novelty is really a great way to play a trick on your own brain and write new memories and make sure that they are cemented in our brains and really mean something.

So don’t dwell on the fact that you’re staying at home this summer. Do the opposite. Make it a summer to remember! You could do a different craft project every Saturday all month long and make it an extremely memorable month. You could do an art staycation this upcoming weekend and create a novel experience for yourself and get that big brain boost just from these small, simple actions. In my in my head, I’m sort of getting the benefits of of a vacation without the giant price tag and without the hassle of having to go somewhere. I can do all of it from here. So I hope that this has inspired you.

If you are staying at home this summer, go ahead and have that staycation! Do something special! Maybe you are traveling, but you should also do a staycation! Why not? It has been such a pleasure having you with me this week for this episode. As always. I hope you have a wonderful week and you put this into action. So if you have an art staycation this summer, send me a note on Instagram at Lauren Kristine Art or at my email which is Lauren Kristine art At That’s the best way to get in touch. So I look forward to hearing what you do. Excellent. Well, my friends! Happy Creating! Have a wonderful week and I’ll talk to you next week.

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