Friday, October 5, 2007

15 Minutes

I had to skip the column last week as I was out of town in Dallas happily seeing Interpol on Thursday night, and then on Friday I had an art opening to attend in Little Rock. My work is currently being featured at the M2 gallery in Little Rock this month. The exhibit is entitled "Best of Northwest." It is a thrill to have my work featured along with several other talented Northwest Arkansas artists such as Nathan Beatty, Sean Fitzgibbon, Christina Mariotti, and L. Eric Smith. It was a wonderful reception and a good time was had by all.

My exhibit at the DDP gallery in Fayetteville has come to a close. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement, it really was a great show. I loved showing my work with Helen Phillips, and working with the DDP gallery owner, Dede Peters. I will look back on the exhibit fondly.

My exhibit entitled "Spellbound" at the Julie Wait Designs gallery is currently up in Rogers, Arkansas until October 19th. If you have not made it out to a third Friday art walk in historic downtown Rogers, I recommend it.There is music, food, and art, not to mention the beautiful old architecture of an historic downtown.

Today, I would like to get back on track with some hints, help, and advice to other artists out there, as this is the reason I started this studio blog in the first place. I want to talk about self sabotage, self censorship, and other negative garbage artists fall prey too.

Does this sound familiar?

I need to paint(or add your medium here), but something stops me from climbing the stairs to my humble studio oasis. I need to get my art finances organized, and inventory up to date, and thank you cards in the mail, but I am frozen in time. I need to write my blog, update my website, and do some research on some new galleries, but I am not quite getting to it. Something creeps in between me and my purpose and my passion.

Sometimes when we first find our passion nothing seems to get in our way, nothing can pull us from it, and we take this as a sign that we have found our true calling. Right now, I find I am dreaming again and all the time. I am dreaming about the future, and I ache for it to be my reality. Then I snap out of the dream to realize that I am not getting anything done in the here and now, and if I really ache for my dreams to be my reality, then I really need to get to work.

As a working artist, my schedule is fairly open and flexible. I know that I am a person who works best with some structure but at the same time it can't be too rigid or I will rebel and do nothing, and then fail at my over ordered schedule and feel miserable about it. So, I know it is always a careful balancing act. I am betting it is this way for some of you too.

When I find the dreaming is taking me into the clouds and the painting studio is not seeing enough of me, and sleep is such a good escape, it is time to make some small changes towards action. I am going to share a few of the action tricks that work for me. Some of these I have read, some of these friends have shared with me and others just came about organically. Perhaps, they will be helpful to you as well, when you are in need of a kind and reasonable form of action, to get you out of the clouds and back in the game.

First, a dear friend of mine told me the other day to just "shoot for good, not perfect" and I have been coming back to this again and again. How many times in the day are you shooting for perfect and feeling bad about yourself? You could have just shot for good, and felt okay and know that you are making some progress. I think a lot of creative types battle with this. We want to impress, we want to make something so amazing and original, we want to always show our newest and best work, we want to be at every art event we can as we build our reputation, and we may want to please others. If you don't suffer from any of this "pleasing or perfectionism" stuff, then I hope you will share your secrets with me. At the same time that these behaviors or beliefs can be stifle ones creative juices, they can also stoke them- so again the balancing act is necessary.

Another roadblock to your creativity might be time, or your lack of it. You might finally get to work and be creating, and that little voice might rise up within, and tell you to give up, that you really don't have enough time to really work on or explore anything of any real substance. The chores suddenly seem more important, the voice says you are being selfish for taking this time away from your family, spouse or dog to be in your own little world creating. Or maybe you think you need a whole large block of time before you to even attempt to work.

Well, I am here to tell you that amazing things can happen in 15 minutes. I use this method a lot. I will set my timer for 15 minutes and just start something I am putting off, and make it a game. You can use this to get all those chores done and then paint with a clear conscience, or you can use it to start some work in your studio. If you haven't been in your studio in awhile. Just go hang out in there for 15 minutes one day, then maybe the next time go clean it up for 15minutes, then the next day perhaps just a splash of paint on a canvas. By the end of the week you will have worked 1 hour and 45 minutes in quick and painless sessions, and since you know that you are now trying to be good and not perfect, you also know that you are now moving towards your goals. Creating something, is much better than nothing for the week.

From personal experience, starting something is the hardest part, once you do 15 minutes you most likely will continue the session if time allows. Also, about that "guilt voice" that says you are being indulgent or taking time away from the family, friends, or pets. I know that when I create I am a better person. I am a more free and content person, and feel so much better about myself and the world that my family will thank me for taking that indulgent time and I bet yours will too.

Okay, so you are now in the studio, the chores are done, you finally have the time, and then the self sabotaging voice comes on strong and says "what can you do that hasn't been done already, and since there is nothing new that you can do, what is the point in trying." Voices like, "this is too different from what my clients expect from me," or "this will never sell." Well, this can be a hard one. First, I will say, it happens to the best of us and you are not alone. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Remember the idea that you are special because you are an individual and no one else in the world is quite like you, so all the work you create is unique like you. There is a type of collective unconscious that the art community has, we do recycle and reform and reclaim ideas that have been used before, but we add and explore them further and make them our own eventually.

Only you can create your work, and that is pretty amazing, so tell that voice to pipe down unless you are totally ripping someone off... The voices that come about pleasing clients or creating something that won't sell must be silenced too. Clients expect and hope that the artists they admire will keep growing and exploring, they really don't want you to stay stuck in a people pleasing rut, so break out and have fun. Your clients will come along for the ride for the most part. Some art isn't meant to be sold, or even shown. Sometimes you just want to work, and play and grow, this time may then translate into the work that you will show and sell in the future. Keep this is mind.

Being a working artist is challenging enough, stop trying to make it harder for yourself. Dispense with the guilt, people pleasing, and self censorship, it will only drive you crazy and stop you from sharing the purpose and passion that I know is boiling up within you. I want to leave you with a few famous artist's quotes on the subject.

Diego Rivera, "I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious." ( I was glad to come across this, and I have to agree with him- so perhaps I will take that nap after all...)

Andrew Wyeth, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."

Scott Adams, "A lot of it's experimental, spontaneous. It's about knocking about in the studio and bumping into things."

See my painting "Something Once Before" at the M2 gallery
Pleasant Ridge Town Center
11525 Cantrell Road
Little Rock, Arkansas
Open: M-Th. 10-8pm and Sat. 10-9

"Best of Northwest" Works by Megan Chapman, Nathan Beatty, Sean Fitzgibbon, Christina Marioti, and L. Eric Smith on display through October at the M2 gallery.

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