Success Talk 3: Holistic Success

It’s easy to get discouraged as an artist by measuring success against external factors such as sales, recognition, or a certain type of studio.

As artists, we have the power to envision and create what we want for our future. I encourage you to envision a more personal and holistic view of success that considers everything from the place you live, to the way you work, and the community you want to have. By placing our intentions front and center, success becomes more about the creative life that we build for ourselves.

What’s YOUR personal idea of success?

I’ve created a downloadable worksheet to explore some of the questions raised in the video above. Use it to help you brainstorm your vision of success. I highly encourage you to spend some daydreaming time, thinking and journaling on your ideal scenarios. You may enjoy doing this with a trusted friend and sharing you ideas with each other.

  • Why do you make art? How did you get started? Is this a new passion or one longstanding? What got you “hooked”? What’s important to you about making art?

  • Who do you want in your community? Who is the audience for your art? Do you prefer to work alone or surrounded by others?

  • What kind of opportunities do you want to have? What kind of impact do you want your work to have? What does making art do for you physically? Mentally? Spiritually?

  • Where do you want to live? Where do you want to make art? What kind of environment suits your needs?

  • What time of day do you work best? Do you prefer concentrated periods of work with deadlines and breaks in between or do you prefer to work the same amount each week? How many hours each day, week or month do you ideally work?

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Art is about “We,” not “Me.”

Do you ever feel hesistant or uncomfortable about sharing your work in a public forum? Here’s a possible reason why – you don’t want to attract attention to yourself. Here’s how to take your “Self” entirely out of the equation.

In this vision, I really FELT myself and my work as belonging to the community. Can you close your eyes and imagine this for yourself?

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Motivation to Create! Six reasons to go make stuff NOW!

We all need a little push now and again. Sometimes we’ve just gotten busy and neglected making art for a little while or maybe we had a job or were raising children and neglected it for a good long while.

Whatever the reasons, here is some inspiration to help get you back to work! If not RIGHT this moment, then hopefully sometime in the very near future!

  1. Think how good you’ll feel when you do!
  2. Only by doing it will you be able to move through ‘the wall’ to free creative energy.
  3. You need creative time to bring out the best in yourself.
  4. The Butterfly Effect – Your creativity effects other in ways you will never know. You don’t have to be a “famous” artist to have an impact. Just think of how we are still affected by the cave paintings done over 6,000 years ago by anonymous early humans or the baskets, weavings, ceramics, etc. created by people in civilizations who predate ours.
  5. It’s an antidote to consumerism. Adds to the good in the world.
  6. Creativity connects you to something greater than yourself.

Now go make something. NOW. Go do it! Even if it’s just for 10 minutes! Yay!!

If you’ve been missing making your art, share below and let us know which reason resonated the most with you?

What are some other reasons you can come up with to do your creative work?


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The Importance of Empty Time

Screenshot 2016-08-10 12.12.44I have been getting so much out of this talk a reader from the Netherlands shared with me. I must have watched it a least 5 times in the past few weeks!

It’s all about the stuff we mindful artists love – using awareness to live a more happy, productive and fulfilled life.

Juliet Funt teaches us about the power of “Whitespace.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? If you have studied art at all you know about the importance of what we call in art “negative space” – that space which surrounds an object or image that is essential to balance the composition. This is the same principle applied to our time.

She defines Whitespace as “the moments in our life which we allow to remain unfilled and ready for what might come.

We all understand what it’s like to live in this over-stimulating society. We are bombarded by information, overloaded with work and responsibilities, appointments and obligations. We’ve become more and more accustomed to our time constantly being filled. How many of you check your voice email or text messages while waiting in line at the post office, supermarket or bank?

We’ve become more and more accustomed to our time constantly being filled.

How many of you can remember the last time you were bored?

When I first got a smartphone I loved how “efficient” it made me. I coud regain all that previously “lost” time and get more work done, so later I could have more time to make art, clean my kitchen, call my mom, pay bills, etc. Does anyone else use the time waiting in line at the post office, supermarket or bank to check your voice email or text messages?

But it gets to be too much, doesn’t it? After a while, the constant activity and stimulation become draining. 

We just want some quiet.

Sometimes now when I have to wait, I instead choose to look at my surroundings, the people, the architecture, the sky, the weather or just reflect on things I have to be happy about or things to appreciate.

But it takes concerted effort to stave off low-value activity

According to Ms. Funt, “This loss of time with no assignment comes at hefty, hefty costs to our life and work.”

She invites us to welcome the pause in our lives and gives us the science to support the importance of this “Whitespace.” During this seeming “inactivity” is when the frontal lobe of our brain is able to connect with the memory center. This brain activity is associated with increased creativity, increased engagement and productivity.

Juliet is an engaging, skilful, and entertaining speaker. Although I couldn’t embed her video here, I encourage you to click to watch the full 22-minute talk.

Some of the gems I gleaned are the Four Thieves of Productivity. Each of these qualities are desirable innately but can become destructive when they “overgrow their pots.”

Four Thieves of Productivity
  • Drive
  • Excellence
  • Information
  • Activity

And I’ve found these questions an enormously supportive tool to counteract these “thieves.”

Whitespace simplification questions:

  • Is there anything I can let go of?
  • Where is “good enough” good enough?
  • What do I truly need to know?
  • What deserves my attention?

So how about you? Which of the thieves of productivity do you most identify with?

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How do we define success?

When I mentioned in a video that I had my own definition of success, someone asked me to elaborate on that and explain what success means to me.

So I began working on an article for this blog on a new definition of success. And there was so much to it, I realized. I wrote and wrote and still I couldn’t seem to wrestle the topic into a coherent, brief article. So I decided to make one short video on one aspect of success with the intention of creating more in a series.

In it I share a personal, very atypical success story that illustrates what I mean.

And if you are interested here’s the other video I referenced:

Were you raised with the message that you needed to be recognized or receive money for your art for it to be valid?

Do you feel pressure from the world outside you to prove your worth to others?

Have you analyzed what makes you feel good about being an artist?

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Cultivating Inspiration

One key to supporting healthy, productive innovation is stimulating inputs.

I think it’s funny when people say they are “waiting for inspiration to strike.” My experience of making art without ever suffering through an artist’s block is that you must commit to working regularly and cultivate inspiration much as you might cultivate a garden.sitspot_chair

If we want to stimulate creativity it’s helpful to take note of what inspires us and make it a priority in our lives.

For me that can come in many forms such as of gardening, walking in nature, meditation, looking at other art, dancing or listening to music. Have you ever left a wonderful exhibition and could hardly wait to get back into your studio?

Have you ever taken a nap to solve a creative problem? I keep a futon in my studio and take naps when needed. Frank Lloyd Wright, Joan Miró and Buckminster Fuller were all known to be nappers. studio-futon-nap-spot

Meditation can work in a similar way. By releasing the day-to-day drool of the mind (What should I make for dinner tonight? Did I remember to pay the water bill), we can clear a space for more expansive thoughts.

I’ve called meditation the express highway to creativity. The fact is we are all enormously creative, we just need a way to clear the mind clutter to access the portion of our mind where our inner genius hangs out. That’s why I start each session of the Mindful Artist Master Class with a guided meditation (recorded so you can listen to it at any time in the future).

Other times, it’s not emptying our mind needs but stimulation.

Once I was on an artist residency in a remote area on the Northern California coast. The foundation served only one artist at a time so as to minimize contact with the outside world. There was no internet, telephone, TV and no recorded music was allowed. And outside of minimal contact with the caretakers, there was no other human interaction.

While this was lovely and fulfilling for days, after about a week or so I began to feel a bit listless. Generally, I feel replenished by all the time I spend alone. However, there is a balance of too much time alone and I had exceeded it for the first time EVER.

I learned that connecting with other is something that fills me up and leaves me inspired to create.

Have you thought much about what makes you feel filled and ready and eager to make art? Please respond below!

Suggested homework:

  • Make a note in your journal of 5 things that help you feel juiced up to create.
  • If you haven’t done some of them recently, set an appointment in your calendar – a date with your creative self – to do one of these things in the next two weeks.




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