I went to the Art room on Thursday and when I got into my painting, I realized I didn’t have my spray bottle or pencil. I used my brush to load water from the cup on my table and borrowed a pencil from the supply closet to do a sketch of some white ibises from a photo that I'd taken on the way to the clubhouse. My tendency is to curse myself whenever I forget something, but I’m determined not to let missing a few supplies ruin my time in that room. I thought of the quote "Do what you can with what you have right now."
I started a new painting that day. I painted his neck by mixing yellow ochre with cobalt blue, and then mixed more cobalt blue with that to make a gray shade.
In Other News
Last Tuesday I recorded intros and outros for my blue heron and my anhinga video, along with my video on making art a habit. I’ve been working on editing them throughout this week. I still need to record b-roll for my art habits video. I’ve gotten as far as taking out the long silent bits on that one. I hope to have the blue heron video on my youtube channel, Sara Makes Art, soon.
I didn’t do any painting this week, with the exception of mixing a bit of color to darken the body of my bird. This is because I’ve been prioritizing finishing the video I’m working on, which is going to show the process of my last painting, of the heron. Lately, I’ve been struggling with the question of whether to prioritize the creation of art itself, or the promotion of that art, which in my case, and for most contemporary artists, means sharing the work on things like social media, writing blog posts, and of course, making videos. The last one can be more time consuming than the actual painting.
The answer may seem obvious. If I want to be an artist, I need to create art. But, while I know I can’t make a living as an artist without a body of work, (and that without my art, I have nothing to promote anyway) I also know that I can’t make a living without a following, and the way I get a following is by promoting myself and my work. I also know that the bigger my body of work, the greater chance I have of making it, as long as the quality is good, but, on the same hand, I also have a better chance of making it, the bigger my audience is and the better I am at marketing to them.
If I have a commitment or deadline, I know exactly what to prioritize. If I have a commission, my priority is finishing the painting for the client. Likewise, if I have a show coming up that I need to make paintings for, that is my focus. I’m talking about times when I don’t have any obligation to anyone else and I’m working entirely on my own projects. That’s when figuring out what to prioritize is fuzzy.
I’ve heard before that to be a successful artist, we should spend at least half our time promoting our work. So does that answer my question? Should either the creation of work and promotion of it be equally prioritized possibly?
I posted this question in a Facebook group for people who are trying to make a living as an artist and so far, I haven’t gotten any replies. I guess everyone else is as confused as I am. I know the fact that I'm even thinking about prioritization is a step in the right direction.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, whether you've figured out the conundrum or you're still struggling like I am.
In Other News
There are crows in my community and sometimes they land on mailboxes. If I can get a pic of one, I think it could make a great painting, but alas, they always fly away. Aaaah, someday.
That's all for now. I'll see you in my next post. If you enjoyed this post, why not sign up for my newsletter? That way, future posts will come straight to your inbox.
I was a guest speaker for a zoom art class and the teacher asked me if I have any advice on how to get inspired. I don't go looking for inspiration. I just try to stay aware of when it comes to me. Trying to get inspired is like trying to go to sleep. The more you chase it, the further it gets from you. Remember, nothing will hinder your ability to get inspired more than stress, including stressing about getting inspired.
I have to admit, I’m a huge homebody, but I know that in my experience, the most inspiring moments often come when I’m out and about. There may be a place that is a source of inspiration for you and you know what that place is better than I do.
Take this drawing for instance.
The people in it are my aunt and her knitting instructor. When I took the photo that became the reference for this drawing, I was visiting my aunt in New Jersey. We were out and about and she wanted to stop and see her knitting instructor about something. When I saw my aunt and her instructor working together, I thought the situation looked like it could be a piece of art. I took out my phone, took a pic of what was in front of me, and the rest is history. So, I guess if I had to give advice about how to get inspired it would be to go for a walk, or run errands.
I tend to find those moments when people, and even more so, animals, are going about their business the most inspiring now that I think about it. I can’t remember the last time I tried to pose someone for a photo and when people pose on their own, I try to get them to stop. People just aren’t themselves when they’re posing.
Picasso said “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” I made a YouTube video elaborating on my thoughts on this quote. I say, don’t wait to be inspired to start working. Thomas Frank reiterated in the video that inspired my last post on this blog, that amateurs wait to be inspired to create, while professionals create on a consistent schedule. He quoted a writer friend of his as saying, “I wait for inspiration to work. It just so happens that my inspiration comes every morning at 8 a.m.” Is Thomas’s friend really struck with inspiration every morning consistently at 8 a.m? I doubt it. Rather, what he’s more likely saying is that he does his writing every day at that time, whether he’s actually inspired or not.
Getting back to what Picasso said, the more you work at your craft, the more inspired you will be. As Maya Angelou said, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."
There's a video I watched recently called "'I Don't Feel Like It' Is A Mindset For Amateurs". The video is over five years old, but it was brought to my attention again within the past week. The video, which was made by a youtuber who teaches productivity named Thomas Frank, has made me feel even more driven to work on a consistent schedule, although I'd believed in disciplined work for a long time.
More importantly I think, this video made me realize, though, was that it's okay to make imperfect, even downright bad work, as long as I'm still working. I decided to take that approach when I sat down to right my newsletter this week. I didn't know everything I wanted to put in it. I'd just write what came to me. Anything that I decide I didn't want in when it was time to send it out, could be deleted. By the way, if you haven't subscribed to my newsletter, there's a form where you can do to the side of this post. I always include at least one in progress pic of whatever I'm working on that week and a lot of times I include my future plans.
Anyway I'm grateful for this mindset shift before I would feel bad if I did work that I thought was not up to par. Of course, I want to make good work, but things can be done over and revised. They don't have to be just right the first time and I don't have to share those crappy first layers or what have you with anyone if I don't want to. But I have to make them in order to make the good stuff.
Here is Thomas's channel. He has a lot of useful tips on productivity and time management.
Painter of portraits and wildlife