Making art is by nature an isolating activity. The majority of artists work alone and need quiet time in the studio to focus and concentrate, to allow ideas to bubble up, to experiment freely without prying or inquiring eyes. When I go to my studio, I like to close the door, turn off the phone, shut out the world and enter a deep, almost meditative state of concentration.
Which means I spend many hours of my day completely alone.
Although the creative work itself may necessitate alone time and privacy, the life of an artist needn’t be lived in isolation. In fact, our success depends on the connections we cultivate. I’m not simply referring to “meeting the right people” – the influential ones who can give us something, or move our work forward. My daily life is made full by my rich community of artist friends.
Wherever you go or decide to live, cultivating a community of like-minded individuals will nourish your work. Unlike others, your artist friends will not be insulted when you choose to go to your studio on a Friday night instead of joining them at the movies.
When you are going through of periods of scant or no recognition, having no shows on the horizon, no grants to sustain you, no gallery to promote you, who will remind you how much it matters to keep doing the work?
I am fortunate to be married to a musician with a very down-to–earth philosophy on being an artist. If ever I begin to feel down-and-out, sorry for myself, or under-appreciated, he looks me in they eye and says “You are doing it for yourself, right?” and then I feel more on track. While I am not exactly doing it for myself (I sincerely want other people to benefit from my work), he reminds me that I am not in it for fame or acclaim.
Who will understand why you are devoting a large portion of your income to studio rent? Or to some ambitious five-year project? Lots of people will not relate to your lifestyle, nor will they understand it.
When the outside world seems indifferent to your creative output, your artist friends will remind you to keep at it. They won’t necessarily do this by saying so, but you will observe them making their own work, devoting their time and energy to it, and this will buoy you onward.
This is why I place such a strong emphasis on the community aspect of the Mindful Artist Mentorship Program. I love the forum, not only because it is a place where all the artists post pictures their own work, but because, it is amazing what happens when you bring a group of like-minded artists together. It is a chance to share ideas, ask questions, get support and help each other move forward in meaningful ways.
Just knowing you have friends you can call on who have committed themselves to a similar path will bring you comfort and sustenance.
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Have you ever heard an artist to say, “I love the hours I spend on my computer, applying for shows, writing my artist’s statement, organizing my images and responding to emails. It’s so much FUN!”?
Almost every artist I know would rather be in the studio, hands in the materials, making stuff.
The administrative and business work associated with being an artist is tedious to most creative types and sometimes downright loathsome.
This can result in putting things off until the last minute, and then rushing through them, subtly (or overtly!) resenting the task at hand, and feeling pressed for time.
In this video, I share some methods I’ve developed for keeping the same sense of balance and expansiveness when working on my computer as I experience in my meditation practice.
Our brains can get caught up in the task at hand, so I read these two phrases to myself to connect with my deeper, overarching intentions throughout the day. Just reading them to myself, shifts my consciousness and attitude.
I experience the spaciousness of time as I work on my computer.
I take frequent pauses to check in with my deeper self.
Here is the link for the free download of the meditation timer I mention (for Mac users):
Questions? Comments? Leave them below…
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