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How I Create: Q&A with Artist Jolie Guillebeau

How I Create: Q&A with Artist Jolie Guillebeau

{Jolie Guillebeau’s paintings}

Jolie Guillebeau isn’t just an artist. She’s also a storyteller. In 2010 she set out to paint 100 paintings in 100 days.

She did it.

Fast forward a few years, and she’s still painting daily. In fact, she sends out an email every day with a snapshot of her artwork and an accompanying story.

Guillebeau flexes her creativity muscles on a regular basis. Asking her to chat about her creative process for our monthly series was a no-brainer.

Below, Guillebeau shares what inspires her work, how she overcomes self-doubt, a clever way she keeps her creative juices flowing and much more.

Guillebeau also created the book Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery, which features 100 of her favorite paintings and stories about these works. Learn more about Guillebeau at her website. You can sign up to receive an email with her daily paintings here. 

1. Do you incorporate creativity-boosting activities into your daily routine? If so, what activities do you do?

Yes. For me, the biggest creativity boost is public accountability. So by committing to a public project like my daily paintings practice, I’m forcing myself to make something every day.

Though, my creative collective (as Kari Chapin calls it) is a big boost creatively as well. I love collaborating with friends, and those phone calls or coffee dates are a huge hit to my creative energy. I’m always energized and excited after spending time with other creative people.

2. What are your inspirations for your work?

Color. Stories. Poetry. Finding those little moments in the day that deserve celebration, even if no one else notices them but me. My favorite Mary Oliver quote says “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” That’s how I try to live and paint.

I’m also really inspired when someone emails me after my story or painting reminds them of something from their own story. Those emails make my day and I save them in a folder in Gmail, so that I can reread them when I’m doubting myself or my work.

3.  There are many culprits that can crush creativity, such as distractions, self-doubt and fear of failure. What tends to stand in the way of your creativity?

Self-doubt is huge. I’m constantly questioning the validity of my work. Or even worse, I’m questioning its relevancy. But a long time ago, I just decided to keep making stuff and let other people do the judging. It doesn’t always work, but reminding myself that I’m the maker, not the critic sometimes helps me clear that hurdle.

4. How do you overcome these obstacles?

Connections to other creators. It helps to know that we’re all fearful and doubtful. Rereading those emails from people who connect to my paintings.

5.  What are some of your favorite resources on creativity?

Jolie GuillebeauAn early favorite was the book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I recommend it to all my beginning students as required reading. It gave me the perspective I needed to make it through art school.

Then Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art was an excellent kick in the pants early in my career — especially his advice on going pro. My favorite take-away from that book was, “Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.” It reminds me that my work is not an extension of my self-worth, which is a dangerous trap.

The whole idea that my work is terrible, therefore I am a terrible person is an easy concept for creatives to adopt, but if I can keep my work separate from my identity as a person, then I create better work, and I can sleep easier at night.

6. What is your favorite way to get your creative juices flowing?

I create little rituals around setting up the palette. I sit on a big red yoga ball at my easel, squeeze out the little blobs of paint and look at the blank canvas for a few minutes to get a clear idea of my concept and my composition. Then I set a timer for 30 minutes, pick up my brush and begin.

As long as the timer is ticking, I keep working. The moment it rings, I rip myself from the painting and look at other things for a few minutes– usually I check my email or pop on to Facebook (bad habit!).

Then I can come back with fresh eyes, and set the timer again. This keeps me from overworking the painting, and puts me in “the zone” faster, because I don’t have to keep up with the time. If I don’t have the timer, I find myself worried that I’ll get involved in the painting and lose track of time and forget about something important.

7. What’s your advice for readers on cultivating creativity?

Make something. Every day. Don’t judge it, just make something. Creatives create.

8.  Anything else you’d like readers to know about creativity?

It’s powerful. It’s cheaper than therapy. It’s the best way to make a difference in the world.

How I Create: Q&A with Artist Jolie Guillebeau

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). How I Create: Q&A with Artist Jolie Guillebeau. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 1 Sep 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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