After a truly inspiring conversation with a fellow artist last week, I decided to make a big change in my art practice: I'm actually going to make art.
It's scary to admit to myself and to you that I sometimes let a week(s!) go by without creating much artwork. Maybe I play with paints, cut out some images, do some crafting, or move my materials around a bit, but making full-on complete paintings and drawings every week is not something I've done consistently for a long time. There are a few things that held me back. If you're an artist/maker/creator you can probably relate to them.
Feeling funny about doing the fun thing as the work thing
Ever since making the leap to art as career three years ago, I've had a hard time letting myself make artwork during normal business hours. A strange perspective shift occurs when what was once your sneaky lunch-break outlet becomes the thing you're supposed to be doing at 9 am on a Monday.
Feeling like painting and drawing were too unserious for the work day, I was putting a lot of time into marketing, planning, graphic design, spreadsheets and social media, things that seemed like something a business person would have permission to do. I thought I could sprinkle in little art sessions on the weekends or maybe in the afternoon when I'd finished all of the "real work."
But when I brought up these thoughts to someone with a big, beautiful full-time business as an artist, she reminded me that my art is completely worthy of precious weekday time because it is after all the entire basis of the business! As Amy Poehler points out in her book, "Yes Please," talking about making stuff and thinking of ideas and worrying about what to make - none of that actually counts as making anything. And as funny as it may still sound to me, making stuff is my job!
So now I'm retraining my brain to remember that the artwork is a concrete thing, a product, that needs to get done. It's just as important as answering the phone and making the coffee were in my first job.
"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original."
One of my favorite creativity quotes. It's from Sir Kenneth Robinson's TedTalk. My fear of being wrong has been another big hangup. Although, I don't think this one ever really goes away. I have a feeling that in twenty or fifty years I'll still be reminding myself that I need to be ok with making a bunch of terrible stuff and ruining lots of good paper and canvas in order to get where I want to go.
The fear might always be there, but moving forward anyway is the key and it's the only way to make the masterpieces. As I've heard others put it, "You need the crap to fertilize the good stuff." So I'm scheduling in plenty of time to make messes and mistakes. I mean really actually putting it on my calendar. It's that important.
Trying to do too much at once
I always felt that I was a little all over the place with my work. I love abstract acrylic painting, but I also love making paper and I also love watercolor and sometimes drawing and I also REALLY love making collages. So hunkering down to finish a series or collection of one thing seemed daunting and stifling. I felt like I was abandoning my collages when I worked on embroidery or worried that all of my good drawing ideas would disappear if I turned my back and painted for a month.
Growing up I head no such fears. I was so energized and psyched to do it all. I once joyfully took on the - some would say tedious - task of decoupaging a pair of rain boots with tiny bits of text cut out of magazines. I painted furniture and did sewing projects and built theatrical sets and made abstract paintings and redecorated my room almost weekly. Everything had its own space and it all got done.
I never worried about missing out on any of it, but I also never focused on one thing. I wasn't famous for being able to draw really well or for stitching my own clothes. I was just endlessly creative. I had a lot of trades, but was definitely a master of none. The same obsession with doing all things creative and following all of my inspirations carried itself into my business and, although it was fun, it wasn't really working that well. I just couldn't figure out how to change things without giving up the fun part.
But my artist chat last week finally gave me the answer I've been needing to hear for forever! The somewhat obvious solution, to which I had been oblivious, is to keep making it all, just not all at once.
It's a permission slip to make everything that lights me up without worrying about being too scattered or letting go of anything I love to create. I can get into collage mode for a few weeks and get all those creative juices out then move on to watercolor/pencil illustrations for a month or two and see what ideas come out when I give them their own time and space.
I may end up honing in on that one thing that I just want to keep on doing forever or I may continue to bounce around, but either way it will all be done with purpose and care. At the moment, I'm embracing my love of painting and sewing on canvas. I'm giving my Color Block pieces everything they need to come to life.
pARTy on and make art,