There is nothing like a good deadline to make me schedule time in the studio and consistently get in there.
Have you ever fallen victim to productive procrastination excuses? Have you ever thought about doing a project and not acted on it for months and years, because there was no end date in site? I certainly have!
I used to tell myself, “Today’s the day. I’ll get started… as soon as the house is clean. then I need to go to the grocery store because we are out of milk.” Or, “I am going to paint after I watch one more episode of Friends…”
This is such a tough battle for me, because while I value how I feel after painting so much, I also value a clean and organized house. Not to mention, I work a full time desk job, and have a sweet little baby and amazing husband to tend to.
Add cleaning, cooking, and commuting to the mix, and sometimes I only have 20-40 minutes to spare at the end of the day. I know I need to spend those valuable minutes in the studio, but sometimes I just want a glass of wine and time on the couch with my husband.
Here are some tips on how to combat the guilt of spending time in the studio when you have so many other responsibilities as a modern woman in today’s society.
Setting a Show Deadline
Find a show or two you want to get into and set the deadline in your phone calendar and put it in your studio to keep you focused on a goal. AND tell someone you are applying so that they can keep you accountable. I skype with Kelsey Livingston and Liz Zanca every month to check in and they ask me how many shows I’ve applied for.
30 day challenges
These are so rewarding, but they can be hard and take a lot of prep work. I cannot tell you how much they have changed my art career. I was in a slump after art school. I didn’t have any more homework and therefor no deadlines, so I all but stopped making work. Who would I show the work to anyway?
One summer, I was listening to the Artist Helping Artist Podcast and they mentioned their 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. My first thought was “that is crazy” but the more they talked about it the more feasible the idea became. These paintings didn’t have to be large gallery ready masterpieces.
It was more of a practice of getting into the habit of getting into the studio every day, and making a daily online post. They do the challenge in September and February each year if you want to join.
My backwards portrait series and my embarking home series began with one of these 30 day challenges. I did the backwards portrait series while 8 months pregnant! So if I can paint a painting a day for almost a month with Braxton Hicks and all of the joys of the last bit of pregnancy, then anyone can do it.
The 30 day challenge is a great way to get focused and stay challenged and even if you only complete 20 paintings in 30 days, it is still amazing that you did that many.
I cannot tell you how podcasts have changed my art practice. I listen to several different podcasts and am always searching for more. They make me feel like I am not alone making work in a quiet studio for no reason. Knowing that there are other artists out there struggling with the same issues I struggle with on a daily basis makes me feel so connected.
Some of my favorite podcasts are:
Art For Your Ear
The Art History Babes
Art And Cocktails
I Like Your Work
Artist Helping Artists
Two Artists Walk Into a Bar
Ted Radio Hour
Also, these podcasts are really people, try to reach out to them and tell them you appreciate what you are doing. It will make their day!
Contact a Gallery
I would see artists having shows and I would wonder, how in the world do they get solo shows? Must be that they magically get discovered and the gallery probably called them and said, please show here. One day I got the guts to email Kelsey Livingston, visual art director at the Baton Rouge Arts Council, and ask her how its done. She promptly responded and said, “All you have to do is ask. We love your work, and July is free. Would you like to rent the space then?” Wow! All you have to do is ask and have the work. I never thought it was that easy to contact a gallery and get information. Even if they don’t like your work they might send it to someone they know that might like to show it.
Also, don’t get discouraged if they don’t like your work. There is a market for every artist—you just have to find your people who love what you make and love to look at your work. I have contacted galleries and never heard a word from them, and that is okay as well. Keep reaching out and you will find a supportive and loving family who will want to work with you to display your work.
5. DO THE WORK
The most important thing you can do is try to make an effort to make something every day. Even if it’s a five minute sketch while you unwind with a glass of wine after a long day at work.
Try to have 20-30 cohesive pieces to present to a gallery
Cohesive meaning: similar color pallet, size, theme, story line, or idea. It looks much better in a space if you have a similar thread between the pieces rather than a random smattering of ideas all in one.
Get in the studio and get to work and make something. Have an idea and a goal and a time frame and you will get somewhere and then just have fun! Trust me, it works, and don't do yourself the disservice of not reaching your full artistic potential.