Sunday, June 10, 2012

Challenges in making art - My responses to dealing with self-criticism, developing a style, finding time for creativity & more

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a contest and one of the questions was about challenges in making art. I really wanted to address as many of these as I could that I thought might be helpful for others as well and that also had multiple variations on the same theme. So here they are:

1. self-criticism
I wrote an article about this, which was guest posted on The Abundant Artist, a terrific resource for artists here's the link  which if iI do say so myself : ) is pretty helpful!
We also do a fantastic transformational project for concretely dealing with this in the Hero's Art Journey.

2. having compassion for yourself
My favorite quote for this is from Stephen Levine in one of his books or one of the workshops I took with him and his extraordinary wife Ondrea years ago to - Treat yourself as if you were your only child.”  Meaning that if your only child were learning something and wasn't a born expert you'd have tenderness and compassion for them and reassure them that they were learning and it was truly all OK. This beautiful thought also applies to any form of messing up, where you have compassion for yourself and then do whatever you need to make it as right as you can.

3. finding time for creativity, courage, and prioritizing
This is pretty core in our current overflowingly time-crunched culture. 
Here are several strategies:
  • get up earlier to dedicate creative time
  • work in small blocks of time
  • block out sacred creativity time days or hours - if you block out hours set a timer to hold you accountable and get away from your computer and turn off the phone
  • go away or get your family to go away so you can have a working vacation
  • take a course where you have external accountability and goals
  • imagine that your life depends upon it or better yet someone you truly love's life depends upon it because in a way - it does - listening to our heart's desires and acting on our innate creativity makes us happier and therefore healthier people and makes us kinder and more loving to the people around us making them happier and therefor healthier people
other time tips if you are a visual artist include: 
  • working smaller and more portable. For example, I carry around some sheets of heavy weight paper or a sketch book and a piece of heavier back cardboard from a 9x12" sketchbook that I've torn off to act as an easel or small table, and whenever I'm stuck waiting anywhere I just whip it out and start drawing. Believe me the time flies and I get very happy.
  • along the portable lines, I love preparing smaller wood panels with acrylic paint textures and shapes and then relaxing on the couch when I'm truly pooped and drawing on them with an assortment of pens and markers. I also sometimes take them in by bag with the pens and work on them when I'm waiting somewhere. The panels don't need any kind of support underneath and my knees work just fine.
Yes it takes courage to be creative and to carve out time for something that may never have rewards that are commonly validated in our culture eg fame and fortune. But I do know from my dissertation research that art saves lives and that when you embrace that part of yourself, you're happier.

3. "getting past the fear of putting my art out there and fear of being successful"

Unfortunately the only way out sometimes is through. Do read the Critical Inner Voice article, which you might find helpful and take baby steps. Show your work in safe environments such as a course environment or among friends where you can get good helpful criticism. Learn as much as you can by taking courses where you improve your skills then start putting it out. Don't worry about getting successful. Your chances of that happening before you've put in a bunch of time and effort and work are slim. It does occasionally happen but it's rare. I love the extremes tho - am I good enough - to what if I get wildly successful. There's a middle ground worth seeking and always tell yourself -"I'm learning and growing." It really helps for whatever stage you're at both as a source of comfort and a reminder for humility.

4. how to teach art to others
Pay attention to what you like in how others teach and apply that to your own teaching. 
Read books on education and the art of teaching

5. "The fact that I can't paint or draw at ALL"
If you can drive you can draw or paint. It's as simple as that. Remember when you first learned to drive and how totally overwhelming it was and how reflexive it is now. It's the same with drawing. When you do one action e.g. putting down some proportional guidelines of where features sit in a face, and then you adapt them for a specific face, after a while you don't need those guidelines. You just know where they are supposed to be. The more you do it, the more skilled you'll become, especially if you have good teachers and really pay attention to what's around you and in front of you.

6. "Honing in on a style that truly feels my own"
Ah that's a challenge, especially if you like to experiment and try lots of different things. My style has definitely changed over the years but I think I have a specific look because I like bold shapes and color contrasts. I just do what feels right and true for me. Maybe put all your different styles together and see which speaks most to you or not worry about having one particular style and instead develop several bodies of work that are perhaps both conceptually and stylistically linked.

7. If my love for art will be overpowered by the reality of maybe having to put it aside to making a better living
This is where you have to decide what a better living is and how much you need. Here in the States we tend to sell our life blood for goods and it's not a good trade off. If there's any way you can swing working part time until you can either a) develop a following and decent financial return for your art, or b) come into a sweet inheritance, that's the best you can probably do (unless you have a partner who earns enough and is willing to support you). Reality sucks sometimes.

8. Someone mentioned the challenges of promoting creative works, which I'm not going to answer except to say it's all about social media these days - Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Pinterest, and having a blog. All major time sucks but also very rewarding in other ways

I think I answered all the comments and hope they've been super helpful

love xox Mira

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