How To Be Creative With Milk and Pixels!

How to be creative is my first blog post and video since June.

I'm sorry I haven't been here for so long but my 92 year old dad fell ill in the summer and

my time was taken up with looking after him right up until he passed away a few weeks ago.

So I have been very busy with family commitments and now, with taking care of my mum.

But I'm getting back into the swing of working now so here I am with another project. So if you want to know how to be creative - stick with me!

how to be creative

In my latest YouTube video, I reconstruct how I created this 'painting' and  made a very similar image. Click here to see it.

How To Be Creative With Milk and Pixels is the follow on post from How To Create Abstract Art VERY Easily.

You don't have to read that post or watch the associated video first but I would highly recommend you do so that this one makes more sense. You can find the blog post and video link by clicking here.

How to be creative is a question that so many people ponder and as I have said many times in my posts, being creative is not as hard as some people think it is.

I remember very clearly when I didn't know how to be creative but longed to be

Digital technology has made it so easy to explore our own creativity in ways we could never have dreamed of before the invention of computers and their pixels.

This project is a little different to my other - ‘how to be creative' - ones where I use scrap cardboard and paper etc to make physical objects such as jewelery.

In the previous project, I used an actual physical process that utilised milk and food colouring to create fun abstract images that I captured with my camera before tipping the coloured  milk down the sink.

I am taking things a step further with this follow up project, to show you how to develop those 'paintings' I created in the previous video, using digital technology and software which, I realise not everyone may have.


But don't let that put you off reading the post and watching the video. Especially if you are longing to know how to be creative.

Once you see the potential of your computer as a tool for developing the fun abstract art you have created outside of the computer, you may want to think seriously about getting some photo editing software and exploring how you can use it way beyond editing photos, to make art, in the most obscure ways.

You can see in the images above, I improved the photo I took while I was sloshing around with milk and food colouring.

With just a couple of clicks in Photoshop I had cropped out the edge of the dish and enhanced the colors leaving me with a 'painting' that no one would ever guess was milk!

The image on the right also began life as a milk 'painting' in a dish. 

I created the base image using food colouring in milk, took a photo of it, downloaded it to my computer  and then used Photoshop to enhance it and add other elements using brushes (think of brushes as digital craft stamps that you can create to add designs to your milk painting.)

Images like these will never make it into the Royal Academy but, that is not what we are aiming for here, we are aiming for having fun and exploring possibilities without being 'good' at making art - don't ever forget that! I have seen many really awful paintings in prestigious art galleries that are only there because the artist has made a name for themselves. It doesn't matter what they produce, their admirers will lap it up.

They could sneeze paint onto a canvas and it would be applauded. They learned how to be creative and so can you, in your way. So don't get caught up in that art snob mindset or judge yourself harshly - just enjoy the process and use whatever means you need in order to express yourself.

How to be creative

Don't let the name PHOTOshop fool you into thinking this image editing software is purely about editing photos.

I created this image from scratch in Photoshop using brushes I created very easily myself.

This whole image is made using the gradient tool and three custom made brushes.

I mainly use it for creating arty images from scratch.

And you can do the same with Gimp without forking out for Photoshop if you don't want the outlay.

As I said earlier, when I say I used 'brushes' to add designs to my images (such as the tree branches in the image at the start of this post), I could just as easily call them digital craft stamps, but Photoshop calls them brushes.

Take the praying monk in the image above - I didn't draw him, I am not capable - but did my inability to draw or paint stop me from expressing my artistic idea of having a praying monk in my painting?

No, because I used my creativity to overcome the 'can't draw or paint'  barrier.

I used my camera to take a picture of a concrete garden ornament (the monk) sideways on and then I turned it into a digital stamp (known as a brush in Photoshop terms) and I can put this monk into any painting I make.

Now that I have the stamp (brush) saved in my Photoshop brushes palette, I can make it any size or colour I want.

Have I cheated? No, Have I been creative? Yes. Because creativity is about finding creative ways to express yourself. Creativity is not limited to be 'able' to paint or draw 'properly'.

The stamps (brushes) you see on the right are all individual brushes I have created myself to use in Photoshop.

I have stamped them in various colors all on the same document so you can see what I am talking about. I can make these brushes whatever size, colour or opacity I want to and I can overlay them on any photo I have taken of abstract art created with milk and food coloring (or paintings created in any way).

The reason I make my own brushes is because of copyright. For example - the tree brushes I used in the top image are not my design. I got them either free with a Photoshop magazine or from a free clip art website.

So if, for example, I wanted to make a greeting card to sell, even though these brushes were free, it doesn't mean I can use them on stuff I am selling.

So I like to create my own brushes to be safe from violating anyone's copyright.

Answering the question of how to be creative is about how you use all the tools at your disposal to overcome any barriers you may have to expressing yourself artistically.

And for many people, the biggest barrier is that feeling of not being able to paint or draw 'properly'. It's the same with any creative field. Take music for example, I can't play an instrument because I have never learned.

But with today's technology, I can make music by using software such as Garage Band. Ok, I may never be a Beethoven or a John Lennon but I can still dabble around and explore my musical creativity and learn how to make some very catchy digital music.

I may even get inspired to learn an actual instrument!

What I am saying is, if you want to create artistically but feel stuck at that stage of wanting but never doing, then you need to overcome that 'not good enough' mindset.

You need to just do something with some kind of medium to get yourself started on that journey of discovery.

And food colouring in milk is one of the best ways to get going because it is cheap to do and it is fun. But do read my previous blog post and watch the video to find out what else you need because there is a very simple 'secret' ingredient that you need to add for the real magic to happen.

Use these (in milk)... create this.

In my how to be creative video, you see me using Adobe Photoshop to develop my milk paintings further on the computer but, there is another, much less expensive option and even a free/very low cost option to consider.

If you don't have Adobe Photoshop and you don't want to pay for it (it is expensive) there are other options that you might like to explore.

There is the free, open source design software called Gimp. I have used this but don't currently have it on my Mac. I had it on an older Mac years ago and it was brilliant.

I had trouble downloading it this time so I  just ordered a Gimp DVD from Amazon for just over £7 and it arrived today. I will be able to keep you updated about using Gimp to create art from your milk paintings once I have installed it on my computer.

With Gimp you can create custom brushes to use in the way I have in my tree branch image.

And Gimp works pretty much the way Photoshop does.

You just need to experiment with it and learn by trial and error just how creative you can get.

You can find out about Gimp on their website 

There are  DVD copies of Gimp for Windows and Mac in my US and UK Amazon shops, but not sure how long they will be there or how good they are.

I'll let you know when I've tried mine out. shop - click here. shop  - click here

A less expensive alternative to the full version of Adobe Photoshop is Photoshop Elements which I also have in my shops.

But please bear in mind I have not used the newer versions of Elements and so I cannot say what they are like - do your research before you buy!

UK readers, please bear with me as I am only just now stocking my UK shop with the  products I have had in my US shop for some time - but it won't be long before you too can buy most of the products I use in my videos.

Hopefully, if you are a person who wants to be creative but does not know where to begin - you will be looking at what I have done and be thinking - I can do better than that!

I hope I have given you some idea of how to be creative when you think you're not.

Using milk and food colouring is a very inexpensive way to play with colour, as opposed to buying paints and canvases. It's very non-threatening too because when are creating swirls and cells, if you see images you love developing in the dish, you can take pictures to capture the designs forever.

But, whatever happens when you play, you will be tipping your art down the sink eventually and no one will ever see it unless you show them the pictures.

Of course, working on the images on computer, as I outline in the video, is a more expensive way making art and it won't be for everyone but if 'how to be creative' is something that burns away at your soul, then you'll probably be keen to explore all options - have fun and don't forget to watch the video!