All too often in the twenty-first century, leisure time has been about total relaxation in front of a screen, with snacks and drinks close at hand. Laziness and leisure have become conflated. Despite being a convenient, engaging way to unwind, it’s not what leisure time ought to be about. For anyone uneasy with the idea that millions of people across the world are also watching a screen, it’s time to adapt your lifestyle with a new hobby. This guide is all about how to celebrate and engage your artistic side during your off-time.

Equipment

For the same price of your monthly media subscriptions, you’ll be able to pick up art supplies that’ll last you years. Your local arts and crafts store will have shelves upon shelves of exciting equipment you’ll want to get your hands on, and staff in these shops are unfailingly attentive and informative should you need a hand with selecting materials.

You might have a vision of something specific you’d like to create, in which case you can go right ahead and buy the mate-rials you need to make that image a reality. Otherwise, why not get started with a set of sketching pencils, some paper, and some watercolors. If you’re entirely new to art, then a beginner’s guide to sketching might be a good addition to help get you on your feet.

Environment

One of the key considerations when embarking on a new creative crusade is to get in the right mood. To engage your artistic spirit and commune with your muse, you’ll need to feel comfortable and relaxed in your environment. Try and select the right lighting, and switch off all distracting electricals. Ensure you’ve got a good chunk of time to relax alone and, if you feel it’ll help, put on a playlist of your favorite music. You’re attempting to create your own artistic enclave for a couple of hours.

Practically, you’ll also want ample room to create whatever it is that you’re going to create (more on that later). Some people prefer to work on the floor, while others like to sit at a large table – the choice is yours. Most artistic pursuits are at least a little bit messy, and so you may wish to consider putting down some old sheets, or some newspaper, to protect the surfaces you’re going to be mucking around on. All check? Then you’re ready to get creative.

Attitude

You’re not making art to be the next Picasso. You’re doing it for the uniquely relaxing, fulfilling and time-stopping qualities that being creative lends you. It’s not about how much it costs, how many people are going to like the image you upload to Instagram, or how quickly and efficiently you can make it. Enter into a creative period of time with these attitudes and you’ll not get much out of your experience.

Instead, settle down and attempt to channel your inner creative energies. No, not in a pseudo-Buddhist way or in the sense that hippies might simply advise you ‘chill out, man’ – but in a nuanced and calm way that’s quite at odds with the everyday stresses and responsibilities of life. When you’re making art, you have no end goal, no responsibilities, no one watching and evaluating, and no time limit – it’s just a period of time you’re setting aside to have fun with the innate quality of mankind: creation.

Ideas

As you develop with your new – or recently resumed – artistic hobby, you’ll likely want to push the boundaries further with regards to what materials you use and what projects you plan to undertake. This is the point at which you should remember that art and creativity isn’t just about painting and drawing: there’s so much more to creativity than hanging pictures on the wall. You could make music, film a documentary, paint your front door, or sculpt a garden hedge.

One of the more popular and practical ways to engage your creativity in a different guise is to focus on interior decorating. It’s an art form in and of itself, and if you’re not convinced, just do your research online to see how others tackle the subject. To give a small example, one of the finest arts in the whole of Japan is the delicate assembly of small decorative interior gardens. Interior design is no different, and you can use your creative skills to dazzle visitors to your home, should you apply them to interior design.

Inspire

The final element of your guide to getting creative in your leisure time is to involve others in your new passion. It might be that you have children – creative little things – in which case you should certainly involve them. Note: you may need some more protective newspaper! Persuade your partner to spend the evening creating with you or, if you’re living with friends, lend them some of your equipment and share an evening of conversation and art – it’ll be something refreshingly new in their lives. Who knows, it might become something of a regular occurrence with friends should they take a liking to it.

When it comes to inspiring yourself, though, there’s also plenty of avenues to pursue. If you haven’t already, visit all of the local galleries and museums in your area – you never know what might capture your eye and your imagination. Search the internet for artistic movements and the famous artists who began and epitomized them, or better still simply trawl through online repositories of art, literature, sculpture and music to see whether your new-found love of art is making you more receptive to the art from the past. Whichever method you choose, the art you consume will make its way neatly into your future work.

Being creative is a criminally undervalued skill in an era of business, finance and popular entertainment. Drag yourself away from your normal leisure routine to get creative, either alone or with friends and loved ones, in order to feel fulfilled in a completely new way, leading a happy and productive lifestyle that’s full of creativity and expression.