Sunday, 16 August 2020

Top tips for making time for art


What do we have here? 

It appears to be a blog article about art. 

It appears I think I might have some advice. Isn’t that interesting?!

Bless you for stopping by. I hope I don’t bore you to tears. 

Onward with a listicle of five tips for helping you make time for art. Because my loves, making time for art is actually something I know how to do! I hope you find the advice useful. If you don’t please don’t tell me.

1. Have a dedicated space for art

If you have one take-away from this listicle, I urge you to make it this one. The other four are important, but this one can be a game changer for you. 
If there is a place in your home no matter how tiny where you can leave your art materials set up ready for you to just pick them up, then make it happen! Even if you are obsessed with your living space being tidy, by all means have a tidy ready-to-go art space hidden in a cupboard. But make sure it is ready for you. 

Having your art materials out always ready for you to use removes one of the biggest barriers to actually making art. No matter how tired or uninspired you may be, you are more likely to make art if you don’t have to get your materials ready.

When I started seriously making time for art, I took over the under-used dining table in our front room. At first I felt so guilty about this, and that is a psychological barrier that I imagine quite a few people might struggle with. Who am I to take over a whole space which is traditionally shared, even if it isn’t being used?! And yes, there was push-back from my husband when he was forced to work from home this year due to Covid-19. He wanted some of the dining table space to work from, and I did try to share it to start with. But it was clear that it could not be my work space, my art space and his work space. I would have had to remove my art materials permanently, and would probably not have access to the space for art there ever again, as my husband works all hours. That was not acceptable to me, so it didn’t happen.

Fight for a space in your home dedicated to making art. It is okay to want that. Give yourself permission, and try not to feel guilty. Everyone will get used to you taking up space, including yourself.

2. Have a dedicated time

Lots of people try to make art every day, and that is indeed a great thing to aim for. I have periods of painting every day for many days in a row. In fact, consciously not taking a day off from making art is one way of enshrining the act of making art into your routine, something I did myself in 2019. 
Sitting down every single night to paint, even when I was visiting friends (so weird, no one minded) made the act of making art a habit for me. A habit that is still in force over a year later.

I paint in the evenings after dinner. You might find the mornings work better for you, or some other time of the day. But whenever it is, make it a habit and stick with it, every day of the week if you can and want. Again, the awful guilt monster might rear it’s ugly head and demand to know who the hell are you to want to have time to do something only for yourself?! And I ask you, if you were to go to the gym at a certain time every day, no one would bat an eyelid. Because that’s looking after yourself, right? Well, so is this.

Tied into this is how I use Instagram for accountability. I post my art there to show that I turned up and made art. The Instagram algorithm rewards frequency, so that actually helps me a lot. It might work for you too, if you are not focussed on chasing likes and followers, because neither is guaranteed. But if you want some help with staying accountable even to just a handful of fellow artists, then it can be a handy way to use the platform.

3. Make the art that makes your heart sing

Seems obvious, right? And maybe it is if you stay off social media. Trends are hard to avoid though if you spend any time browsing art hashtags on Instagram. And when you see how many likes an artist might be getting for their style of work, it can be tempting to try to emulate their style to gain your own perceived popularity. Do not fall into this trap!

Because it is a trap, people. It is a trap that will rob you of your soul. While you might gain the likes, your self-worth will shrivel. You will know that you are not really making the art that comes from your heart, and all the likes in the world will not fill that empty void. 

By all means flail around in the dark for a while trying this and that, and learn how to master a medium by following tips and tricks from artists you admire. That can be how we learn. But avoid digging yourself an art hole you cannot crawl out of because you were chasing likes and popularity. And don’t I sound like a parent right now?! 

Honestly, just paint what’s inside your soul and makes your heart sing. You’ll know it when you find it. It is probably not a fast-track to fame and fortune in the art world or on social-media. If that’s what you’re here for advice on, then maybe this isn’t the listicle for you. 

4. Don’t be beholden to romanticised ideals

Daydreaming about a sun-soaked holiday in the South of France where you paint en plein air every day does not a productive artist make. Your reality might be a small apartment with a window overlooking a brick wall in the middle of a noisy, dirty city. That’s your reality, and you can create art in it. Honestly you can.

Waiting to be in the perfect perceived environment in which to create art will result in very little art being made. Unless you’re particularly blessed, you probably will never have a dedicated studio. You might never go on holiday to the South of France. You might not even have the ability to make it to a nearby park. Let go of the the ideals, and embrace your reality. Don’t even have an easel? Put that canvas on a chair and paint that picture. Prop it up on some books against a wall. It honestly doesn’t matter. You are no less of an artist because you don’t have the ‘thing’, and you must not let ideals be a barrier to you making art. 

My own space is so unromantic and far from ideal. It’s a dining table in a front room in a small house in England. It has terrible light. All I can see out the window is parked cars. I can hear my husband watching football (soccer if you must) in the lounge room. My brown cat is annoying. The pug continues to walk in and insult me. The space I have carved out is untidy and small and far from ideal. And yet I make art here almost every day.

Do not let your space, or lack of it, be a a barrier to making art. No, I can’t make huge canvas art in my art space. I’ll cross that bridge if I ever come to it. I haven’t yet and maybe I never will. What a liberating thought!

5. Do something else at the same time

This one is not going to be for everyone, and some people are going to say this is terrible advice, but for me I cannot just sit there and paint. I could if I really had to, but I prefer not to. I like to watch Netflix, listen to podcasts, or perhaps watch something on YouTube. It really works for me and helps me show up for art. Not only am I looking forward to creating art, I get to be entertained, or learn something, or be informed on a subject. It is my idea of bliss! 

Maybe this is not for you, but perhaps some music and a nice scented candle is more up your alley? Whatever your pleasure, perhaps you have already tried to mix things up a bit and not just do art when you show up to art. And if it helps you look forward to showing up, then don’t give yourself a hard time over it. 

There are going to be some situations where you really need to be hyper focussed and distraction free. By all means behave yourself when you really need to. But the rest of the time, listen to that true crime podcast while you paint or carve or sketch. You have permission!

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