Monday, July 24, 2017

Creating Time And Space

When And Where To Make Art

Every now and then I will receive a comment on one of my posts on The I Believe In Art Facebook Page from someone who is struggling to find enough time and/or space to make art.  I always try to offer these people my best advice but often I don't have the time (and it isn't the right forum) to really address the problem, so I'm going to try to do that with this post.

I have to tell you that my challenges with making art do not currently include a lack of time or adequate space but that doesn't mean I can't relate to these issues.  My good fortune is not solely due to luck but also to some very conscious decisions that I have made over the last several years.

The big decision I made around the time I started this blog was that my creative life was the most important thing to me and I was going to put it first.  This led to a million smaller, daily decisions and a process of evaluating my time that I continue to practice every day. For one example of what I'm talking about, read my I Don't Do Dishes (and other shocking confessions) post from 2012.

The bottom line, in my humble opinion, is that if you are not finding enough time or space to make art, then you are making something else more important. That's not necessarily a bad thing, however. I know it may seem shocking to hear me say this but I am aware that there are things that are more important than making art. Maybe in this season of your life working two jobs to support your family is more important or taking care of a loved one is more important or just getting your life in order is more important. Maybe at the end of a long, hard day, the best thing you can do for yourself is to spend time with your family or socialize and find support online or just relax and watch Netflix. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But if you are an artist, and by that I mean that the process of creating something sets your mind free and feeds your soul, then you have to make art as important as anything else that nourishes you. For you, creativity is like eating or sleeping. Depriving yourself of it just isn't good for you.

If this is you and you still aren't finding time or space to create then you have a problem and it's time to take that first step by admitting it. And the second step is to ask yourself, what are you making more important? Is it pleasing other people? Is it Netflix or Facebook or reading blogs (not this one of course)? Is it fear of failure or perfectionism? Only you know the answer to this question but do yourself a favor and don't stop asking it until you get the answers.

I believe that when you do your priorities will automatically shift and dictate your choices but here are a few suggestions for creating time and space for art in your life anyway:

Creating Time

Just think about making art. Daydream about it while you are waiting in line somewhere or in your car or as you're drifting off to sleep. Imagine the things you would create if you had more time and let that motivate you to find it.

Make a list of the ideas or projects you would work on if you had more time and then ask yourself what small step you could take right now towards realizing just one of them.

Commit to just five minutes a day of doodling or drawing.

Give up something you hate doing (like the dishes) – delegate it to someone else (even if you have to bribe or pay them) or just leave it undone for a day or two (the world will not end) – and do something creative instead.

Give up something you love doing (even if it's just for a day) because you love art more.

Creating Space

Be realistic about the space you need. Most people don't require more than a place to sit comfortably and spread out their materials, a bed or a dining room table or a desk in a corner by a window are enough.

Make a mobile studio using an art cart and/or putting wheels on an easel or work table. Think of yourself as a free spirit, gypsy of an artist who is free to create anywhere you damn please.

For God's sake do not get on Pinterest or do a Google image search for art studios unless you are actually planning on creating a studio and looking for practical ideas. If you want to dream about having a studio (and not just torture yourself with envy) then go draw a picture of what yours would look like or create a signature work of art that you could hang in your future studio to represent your style and expertise.

If you really think you need a kick ass studio in order to create art then by all means, give yourself that gift. Be a bold explorer and stake your claim to another space in your home. Sacrifice having a guest room or a dining room or a garage or storage space. A creative person I greatly admire (Tracy Porter) once moved her bed into a closet so she could use her bedroom as her studio! You're creative, remember? You can figure something out!

Okay, I'm going to stop telling you what to do now and go make art.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your own struggles with, or solutions for, creating time and space for art in the comments below.

Until next time, happy creating!

Peace, Love and Art,


Monday, July 17, 2017

A Sacred Place

The Desk And Easel Area In My I Believe In Art Studio

If you follow I Believe In Art on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen some evidence that I was struggling with keeping my art studio tidy lately. The truth is that clutter in my art studio (and other places in my home) has always been a struggle for me.

Honestly, for the past few months I've mostly just accepted it and lived with it because I was busy tending my gardens but now that the dog days of summer are here I've been spending more time indoors and finally I decided I just couldn't take it anymore.

So there I was in my studio last week, going through a big stack of “what the hell is all this?” crap and feeling totally overwhelmed when I came across a scrap of paper where I had once written the following quote by Joseph Campbell:

If you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen.
If you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen.

I remembered I also wrote that quote on my chalkboard wall above my sink when I first finished remodeling my art studio back in 2014. I'd wanted it there to remind me how fortunate I am to have my “sacred place” and of all the magical things that happen when I truly take advantage of it.

Now, three years later, I realized that I had forgotten that, not completely but enough that I wasn't honoring my sacred place like I should. So I got up and wrote that quote on my chalkboard wall again and then got back to work with a new clarity and renewed energy.

Chalkboard Wall And Sink Area In My Art Studio

It was kind of amazing how easy it was to make decisions about the clutter in my studio after that. When “sacred” is your standard, there is a lot that isn't going to make the cut! And yet at the same time I found myself letting go of the need to make things perfect because I don't think sacred has very much to do with how “pinterest worthy” your creative space is. I think sacred is more about feeling purposeful and peaceful when you are in that space. For me that means having the tools I use the most in reach and being surrounded by what inspires me.

A Sacred Place To Sit and Think, Dream and Plan In My Studio

So I'm happy to say that my sacred place is back in resplendent working order and that I have indeed been using it and yes, magical things are happening.

I'd love to hear about your sacred place or any thoughts you have about this post in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading.

Peace, Love and Art,