The Art of Less: How Minimal Living Inspires Creativity

The Art of Less: How Minimal Living Inspires

But out of limitations comes creativity.

~ Debbie Allen

I love to draw and paint. And practice makes perfect, right? I know it’s true, the more I paint, the better I am.

But the most interesting thing I found is, that the more I limited myself in specific ways, the better I became.

I found this a few years ago when I was on a kick of publishing coloring books. I would color with my children, but when I went for the coloring books geared for adults, they were so detailed and intricate I couldn’t color with the colored pencils I got to share with the kids. I got frustrated with how much time it took to complete a page, and I set out to change that.

From everything I’d read about coloring books, they said to pick one topic and focus on it. The first one I did was wine. I did about 20 images, and then it was hard. The last five pictures were the hardest to come up with, but they were the ones I was most proud of. A few months later, I had made a couple of other books, and the wine one was so popular, but after drawing three other books, I knew I could make a better wine book.

This time was even more challenging. I’d already used up all my ideas in the first one; I didn’t want to repeat anything.

I scoured Pinterest for inspiration; I borrowed a hand-lettering book and a monogram book from a friend. It stretched me like never before. And I loved the results.

The same thing happened with every book I created. Not only did my drawings improve because of regular practice, but my creativity also flourished with the limitations of only coffee, only animals, only “crunchy words.”

Minimalism has been the same: when you don’t want much visual clutter, it takes creativity to add life and warmth to a room.

For me, decorating has been trial and error.

I learned that natural things like wood and plants instantly warm up a space and make it feel comfortable. I’ve learned that textures add a cozy feeling and mismatched furnishings make it feel down-to-earth instead of staged and stuffy.

A mix of old and new makes the room feel comfortable and homey.

A contrast of colors is aesthetically pleasing and hanging pictures at eye-level gives a feeling of connectedness and order.

But minimalism doesn’t just stretch your creativity in decor ~

When you limit what is taking up space on your calendar, you will find yourself with a whole bunch of free time.
It also means that you’re not mindlessly filling your days with things that other people ask you to do- PTA, committees, fund-raising… Now, if you love those things and choose to spend your time that way, then that’s perfect! Minimalism will free you up to do that without it being an extreme drain on your energy and emotion.
But if you don’t want to do those things, what will you do with your spare time?

When you’re not spending hours picking up and cleaning the house, what muse will come?

Minimalism frees you up to do the things you’ve always dreamed of. Will you travel? Sew? Knit? Read more? Write a book? Start a business? Play games with your children? Learn to cook? Take classes? Paint?
When you take up a new hobby as a minimalist, you won’t want to go (hopefully! 😆) purchase everything imaginable for that project. Instead, keep in mind that out of limitations comes creativity:

  • What will you paint with the primary colors?
  • What kind of business will you start that doesn’t require you to store inventory?
  • What places will you visit that fit within your budget?
  • What is the topic of the first book you will write?

Accepting yourself, your abilities and your desires lead to a more meaningful life.

Living a life of minimalism is like stripping away all the things that have kept you covered and hidden away.
Letting go of all the excess that has surrounded you gives you the opportunity to deal with yourself, your longings and everything deep inside you.
Because I was searching for more in-depth relationships, I thought if I simplified my life, I would automatically grow closer to those around me.
Although it gave me more opportunity to develop a healthy relationship with them, it didn’t happen only because I had the time.
I had to take intentional action to follow through with what I ultimately wanted:

  • I had to make myself sit down with the kids and read.
  • I had to schedule time with my older kids and dates with my husband.
  • I had to take time to pray and be available when God put a need before me.

Minimalism, whether you want to or not, brings you face to face with the true you. Which is why it’s such a wonderful starting point. No matter what you want out of life, you have to acknowledge this real person that has been hidden before you can move towards the things you desire.
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About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Vanessa on 07/11/2018 at 12:20 pm

    This really spoke to me… I have been thinking about how I best live within my ‘constraints’ lately. Thanks for the article…

  2. Gail on 11/02/2020 at 10:29 pm

    My daughter is a psychologist. She says coloring helps get you unstuck.

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