Shady Azaleas, (studio) 30x40
A few months ago, I asked you to submit ideas for the blog. Slowly, but surely, I am working toward addressing those. It is great to have so many wonderful ideas for you! Since my blog is so sporadic in nature, seems only fitting that the topics bounce all over the place. This week I have chosen a short post on keeping motivated.
Often times I am asked, "How do you keep motivated?" The first and most apparent answer is, that I have a lot of work to do so I have no option but to stay motivated. After all, this is my JOB... not some pass time. If I still worked in graphic design, I'd be putting in 60 hours or more a week. If I was still in the administrative position I had prior to that, I'd be working at least 40 hours a week. So why should this career be thought of as less important?
In a "normal" working environment, employees are required to be at work, complete the work, and be committed to whatever it takes to make money for the company. Employees are often asked to attend professional development seminars, go on company retreats, join professional associations, and become a part of the larger, company-network. Why then is it that as artists, these are the things that often take a back seat?
Here are some ideas to keep you motivated as a better "employee" at YOUR own company--Sally Sue's Art Career (SSAC):
- Discover for yourself if you are a "full-time," or a "part-time" employee of SSAC. If you are full-time, plan to spend no fewer than 40 hours a week; if you are part-time, set yourself a goal that is reasonable so you can stick to it (10 hours, 15 hours???)
- Invest in your professional development. If you need more help with the art-making part of your career, attend a workshop for that. If you need organizing help, find someone who seems a good role model and ask for private consultation (paid, of course).
- Get outta town. Make your own retreat to paint on location, sketch, get new photos in your resource pile. Sometimes just going some place inspiring can really get you going!
- Join a local art group. It's like instant motivation and peer pressure all wrapped up into one. Really become a part of it; volunteer; set up paint-dates.
- Start actually saying, "I'm an artist." When someone asks you what you do, admit that you are an artist. That sort of self-pressure can get you back at it if you've been away for a while.
So this is all well and good, but more often people want an answer that has less to do with the business of motivation, and more to do with the psychological side. Artists get burned out just like everybody else. Sometimes you just cannot imagine what in the world you want to paint or even IF you want to paint. Here are a few things that can get your motor running:
- Look through photos from a vacation you took years ago. You may not have known how to tackle some of those images from a painting standpoint back then, but chances are you do now!
- Go to a museum, a few galleries, or artists' books (the kind with images of an artist's work rather than the instructional kind) and look at art for the pure joy of it.
- Ask a friend to let you come watch them paint for a couple of hours. Remember to be respectful of their time; do not come in and chat for half an hour, sit and be very quiet; offer to pay them for the "demo" you are getting.
- Look back at some very old paintings and compare them to some of your newer pieces. You may not realize how much better you have become at your craft. Seeing growth is exciting.
- Put on some tunes. Just getting a high energy song playing can dramatically change your mood.
- If you're still stuck, at least get out the paint, squeeze it on your palette, and mix some colors. Color mixing and making color charts is very educational. And, because you've squeezed out paint, you're likely to want to start spreading it on a canvas. If you still do not know WHAT to paint, then just play with paint. New techniques come out of exploration with the medium.
- Whatever you do, you must first stop making excuses and stay away from things that eat up your day like too much social media, BLOGGING, and chatting on the phone. If there are activities that distract you, like checking email, remove them. Get off the web; turn off the phone; whatever it takes. If you're trying to stay on a diet, you do not fill your house with cookies (as I just did... preaching to myself here.) So if you're trying to get on a painting schedule, do not fill your painting area with things that tempt you to stop painting.
Hope this helps. If you have ideas that help YOU stay motivated, I hope you'll share them here.
Shady Azalea, (plein air) 8x10
As always, I have posted a painting at the top of the blog. This is a studio piece recently completed using ONLY my plein air sketch as a reference. Here is the sketch, and a video showing the process. Enjoy!