17 October 2018

Making Art After a Long Pause

It's been nine months since I finished Playing With Fire, and since then I haven't made much art to speak of. I've been mostly consumed with everything that was required for our move to Rhode Island, including making some extra money via my freelance illustration day job. So how to get started again after such a long down time?

Fortunately, I have a 20-year freelance career to draw from. A few tricks and techniques I know about for revving up the creativity engines:

Dress for It
Pajamas or sweat pants or sometimes even blue jeans can make me feel schlumpy and lazy. Getting dressed for work, putting on some clothes that make me feel attractive and sharp and powerful, can really help raise the energy.

Keep to a Schedule
Having a dog who loves her schedule helps keep me on schedule too. We take a long walk in early morning, I do some errands if needed, and then I try to be in the studio by 9:30 or 10:00. Once I get started the flow is easier, but getting started can be hard for me so I focus on the morning.

Make a List
Juggling house tasks, dog needs, and freelance jobs can feel overwhelming. I make a proioritized list at the end of each day so that it's on my desk when I arrive in the morning. Turns out that making a list at the end of the day also helps me sleep better.

Studio Time Is Sacred
Other tasks will almost always win out over studio time unless I make an effort to carve out specific art-making time, so that's part of my scheduling and, once scheduled, my studio time is sacred.

Don't Wait for the Muse
Once in the studio it doesn't matter if I "feel like it" or not. Working only when inspiration hits is a recipe for not working. Inspiration and light-bulb moments more often than not come from trying and failing and trying again.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered paper and wood. The wood came yesterday and the paper is en route. Today I got out my calendar and blocked out my studio time for the rest of the week. Engines ready!

Do you have any tips to share?


Olga Norris said...

I like your tips, and use most myself. It has been difficult since my husband retired and is now mostly at home all day to keep to a schedule, but I still keep vaguely to an outline of one.
All my working life I kept to the end of day list, and agree that it works really well - much better for me than a morning one which can be daunting. I also have a system of placing an arrow next to anything that is moved forward a day, or a week, depending on the timescale of the list. If the task is moved on two units it acquires two arrows, etc. This very clearly indicates what is being put off!
I keep a notebook of nascent or partly thought-through ideas for work which I turn to when I don't know where to go next. This also is a hangover from my publishing days when I would keep a note of ideas for books.
As you say, habits honed over years of experience are usually the best to turn to.
Have fun with your wood, paper, and new space.

Sherrie York said...

Yes, yes, yes! I'm still struggling to find a routine... The protracted home-finding meant my studio was in storage for 6 months, and when I finally got things out my press was damaged... barely got that fixed and was off on 5 weeks of teaching because I need some money. Argh!

I has taken a long time to feel comfortable in a new space, but showing up and actually BEING in the space goes a long way towards getting me on track. Good luck next week!

Annie B said...

Olga, I know just what you mean about having your husband around. There was a month before we moved when Lynn was working mostly at home and we interrupted each other all day long. I like your arrow idea for the list.

Annie B said...

Sherrie, we're in the same boat aren't we, right down to the disruptive but necessary teaching gigs! Keep showing up. I will too.

Sandra said...

Annie, a friend passed along to me the Vimeo titled Becoming Made by Mary Brodbeck. What a wonderful film with beautiful artists, wisdom of Mark Nepo, and you, Annie!
I took a weeklong workshop at Women's Studio Workshop last summer with Valerie Luesch I wanted to see how ink and machine press work. It was a good experience. The inks are pretty saturated and I haven't found a way to make them subtle I am gravitating back to water color and hand press. My series of Green Men is a learning one for me as I print them by hand and with ink and machine. Not sure when this series will complete but I am learning a lot taking these steps. Wishing you a good journey as you settle into Providence and your new studio. Sandra

Annie B said...

Thanks Sandra. I'm glad you had a chance to see "Becoming Made"! It's a wonderful film and Mary spent several years making it. And I'm happy to hear you're still working with printmaking! all best from the Ocean State…