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Upstate artists and designers give tips on how to be more creative in 2021

Was your New Year’s resolution to be more creative this year? To make more time to get your own imaginative juices flowing without involving Play-Doh, school glue or pipe cleaners? Regardless of what you choose to do to be creative, you have everything you need at your fingertips (and mouse clicks).

Creating doesn’t have to involve crafts if you’re not a crafty person or paint if art isn’t your thing. Using your imagination doesn’t even have to produce anything tangible according to Terri Brooks, owner and creative designer at The Mercantile in Pendleton.

“This could be done with food, words, music, landscaping or even how you put clothes together,” she said.

The biggest aspect of getting those creative vibes moving is to make time. Whether it’s when the kids are in bed or doing their own thing, being purposeful about your time is the number one hurdle to overcome. Some parents can set up their own creative station and either leave it up or easily put it all away when their children are around, but not everyone can do that. 

Barbara Castañeda is an artist in Greenville who has two young children. She said when her children were very young, she would go long stretches without picking up her paintbrush and she had to learn to be OK with that. Instead, she would sketch down ideas with paper and pencil when she could. 

“If simply getting those ideas out of your head and onto paper is all you can do, then do that,” she said. “Children grow and become more independent so enjoy your time with them when they are small.”

If you can’t work in your chosen creative outlet, find other ways to be creative. Can’t paint? Create a beautiful and colorful dinner. No time to write or sing? Have fun making up stories and songs with your children at bedtime. There are all kinds of ways to twist your favorite creative hobby (or career) into a new outlet for your talents and visions.

While it is hard to be fully creative when children are young, it does get easier as they grow. Independent play times are a great opportunity for moms and dads to work on their painting, writing and more. Experts urge parents to have their children be creative alongside them. This not only teaches the child independent play, but also shows the child that mom or dad’s time is valuable and important to the parent’s happiness.

“By including them when they’re very young, you are prioritizing your interests while also teaching them about how fun making is,” Castañeda said. 

Being creative doesn’t have to be a grand thing. Brooks said we can find creative ways of doing anything simply by slowing down and finding that new and different way of doing it. A boring, familiar dinner can become a masterpiece, or play time with the kids can result in amazing sidewalk chalk art. 

“The more we exercise our imaginations, the easier it becomes to engage in creativity,” Brooks said.

No matter the outlet, making that time for yourself is key not only to your happiness, but your family’s happiness as well.

“Everything is a form of art and taking time out for those things is extremely important,” Castañeda said.

To learn more about Terri Brooks and The Mercantile, visit For more information on Barbara Castañeda’s art, visit her website at