Entries in The artists way (2)


Reigniting the passion

Being a creative, whether you do it full time, part time or as a hobby, you can easily be stripped of inspiration and wanting to create.  That is fine and happens to all of us.  But to get that spark back, for the most part it is up to you to find out how to get excited to create again.  Here are a few of the ways that I keep myself inspired.

1. Take yourself on at artist date 

Borrowed from the book The Artist’s Way, I have found these to be very helpful.  An artist date is making time for yourself, on your own to do something captivating.  To play, have fun, or do something that nourishes you.  An artist date shouldn’t be something you think you should do, or even something practical.  You should be excited or curious about what you decide to do.  This activity that you pick doesn’t have to make sense to your art practice, it just has to be something that you are excited or curious about.  You never know what it might spark.  The possibilities are endless, so use your imagination.  And if you don’t get it right the first time and it didn’t spark something in you, don’t give up.  I have had a few artist dates that were duds.  But I have had plenty that have gotten me thinking differently, sparked a small idea, or at minimum, gotten me out of my studio for a morning to take a break from the to do list.  My recent artist date, I took myself to the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver with my skethbook, some watercolor paints, and I painted some of the flowers and birds with no intention for the drawings.  Many of my favourite artist dates have been wandering nature alone with a sketchbook or notebook.  It’s a nice escape from the business of life.  

*Some of my favourite artist dates*

-The public library.  Reading about different subjects that interest me and that I don’t know much about.

-Wandering nature alone with my sketchbook or notebook.

-Beaty Biodiversity Museum.  Drawing taxidermy animals, fish in jars, bugs, plants and more.


2. Fuck around Friday’s

Either on my own or with a studio mate.  I like to spend 30 minutes to a few hours, fucking around!  Grab some paper, paint, and other random tools, media and just fuck around with it.  Don’t try to make anything you will ever keep.  Taking that out of the situation will help you loosen up and be less precious.  You might find something that you like, such as a colour combination, a texture or something else that you may have never done before.  Or in the least, you will have loosened up.  I also like to treat myself on these days, buy myself a nice coffee and dessert treat, blast the music.  It can help get you into the right mindset to play around.


3. Clean your studio or art working space

This will help clear the old air out. Get rid of unused things, rearrange your space and make your space feel new and welcoming again.  I try to do at least a minimal clean out after each huge deadline has passed and a big clean/sort once a year.  I find my space can become chaos when I have a lot on the go.  I like to reset it before diving into the next project so I can go in fresh and new. 


4. Create studio rituals

This ties in with cleaning your space.  You really want your space to be a welcoming space that you are excited to go to.  It doesn’t matter if it is a corner in your living room, or an actual studio space, make it a welcoming and creative area.  Light some candles, turn on cozy lights, have a diffuser going, put up inspiring images anything to make it a place that you want to be in.  I personally like to get my diffuser going and light candles when I get to work in the morning.  A nice relaxing moody start to the day.


5. Find or create your community

Many artists work alone.  I really enjoy working alone most of the time.  But I do feel the need to connect to other creatives when I can.  This helps to get me out of my own head and think differently.  If there are ways to join a creative community in your area, then do!  Even try a few different circles so that you aren’t reliant on just one.  

*Some of the ways that I have a creative community*

-My studio mates.  Even though we have our own spaces, and work separately, we still have each other when needed.  It is nice having another creative eye that you could ask an opinion on, collaborate with, or even just feed off each others energy working in the same space.  I worked from home for years before I finally buckled and rented a studio space.  It was the best decision I ever made.  

-Creative Mornings/Likemind.  Two different events that happen once a month. They get you up early in the morning, feed you coffee and surround you with other creatives.  Creative Mornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community, with different speakers and themes each month.  Likemind is an informal monthly coffee and conversation gathering, with like-minded people. It’s a casual gathering where you talk with other creatives about what you love, rather than what you do.  

-Creating my own community.  Inspired by likemind, I gathered many of my artist friends to meet once a month for an hour for coffee at different little cafes around the city.  As a way to get ourselves out of the studio for a short while, to share what we are working on, excited about, share information, support each other, spark new ideas and make new artist connections.


6. Take some time off

I am still working on finding this balance.  I am definitely the person that works their butt off on a project, and when it's over I tend to put of taking a break.  Many times I just jump right back in to the next thing, or start playing catch up on all the other things I put off while that deadline loomed.  Even if it is as simple as a half a day off here and there, it can be very beneficial to not burn out. 


When I am in a rut or blocked or feeling uncreative, one of these will really work to get me excited to create again.  So don’t be afraid to try different things and compile your own list.



The Artist's Way - My review, views, and experience

I assume most artists are at least familiar with Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way.  I had heard about it for years but wasn't really quite sure what it was all about.  At the beginning of this year, I decided to get a few female artist friends together to tackle this book with each others support.  Here are some of my thoughts on the book and my experiences. 


My favourite thing about this whole process was the great group of girls that I did this alongside.  We met up once a week to share our experiences and help push each other along.  I loved seeing many tasks done so completely different as each of us saw it in a unique way.  If anyone out there is considering trying out this book, I highly recommend finding a small group of other enthusiastic artists to do it with.  Not even in the same field of art.  I did it with two mixed media abstract painters, and two writer/actresses.  We were likeminded in terms of very artistically driven and wanting to put our all into this, but creatively very different.  This way we were able to share very contrasted perspectives, opening up new creative ideas to all of us.

In the book, it is a self guided twelve week course.  There is a chapter to read and weekly tasks to complete.  She doesn't expect you to complete all the tasks, but I liked her way of picking which ones to do if you don't have time.  She says to pick those that appeal to you, and those you strongly resist.  Leave the ones you feel neutral about to last.  This way, you are doing tasks you are excited about, and also trying things that you would never try by doing the tasks that you would normally push hard against.  Through the whole book, I did almost every task.  Mostly for my own curiosity of what each task would bring.  I was surprised by some that I thought I was excited about, but didn't have as much fun on them as I thought I would.  But other tasks that I didn't have many feelings towards, brought some inspiring new things to light that I never would have experienced.  


My first and most apparent hurdle that I found I had with this book, was her mention of god and praying and the other cheese in the book.  Those things turned me right off.  Absolutely no offence to anyone who has those beliefs.  I think everyone should believe what you want, so long as your beliefs aren't hurting others and you aren't forcing other people to believe in your ideas.  But for me personally, when she would talk about those things it would throw me right out of it and actually irritate me a little.  She says though that she doesn't expect you to believe in the same things, and to change those words if you need.  So whenever I saw them, I changed them to what was right for me, and that helped get past it.  


(Getting back to nature)

There are a lot of things that I took from this book.  Before this, I struggled to put my thoughts, emotions and ideas into words.  I still struggle with that a lot.  But with help of really writing EVERYTHING down and after filling an entire book in a couple months of writing morning pages, I guess I am now less afraid to at least try writing things out.  I don't care as much anymore about perfection with writing.  That is probably why I don't write much, and most of my art is visual.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the book and don't know what morning pages are, they are basically a bit of a brain drain.  Three pages that you write first thing in the morning about anything.  It is just a way to clear your mind in the beginning of the day.  I found it as a great tool to get rid of things on my mind that were bothering me.  As a way to record it, lock it away, and get on with the rest of my day, rather than carrying it around with me.  I haven't kept up with them so much since finishing, but I bring them back into my life here and there when I feel I really need them.  


One of the other main core parts of the book is the Artist Date.  The Artist Date is a block of time (a couple hours if you can, once a week) to do an excursion.  The main rules, you must do it alone, and not to do what you THINK you should do.  Do what intrigues and interests you.  A sense of duty will numb you.  Follow the sense of the mysterious, not your sense of what you should know more about.  Change your usual route, try something different, let yourself play.  Artist dates fill the well, your artistic reservoir.  You have to replenish your creative resources as you draw on them, otherwise they will dry up.  Since finishing the course, I am also not as strict with these as I was.  I don't do them once a week, but I do make sure to still make time for them and continue to take time for myself whenever I can to explore or try something new.


(Trying new things)

I learned quite a lot about myself from this book.  She talks a lot about negativity, jealousy, grief, artist blocks, criticism and failure and how to get over those hurdles.  I learned more about my habits, where I need to be more strict with myself, where I really need to ease up on myself.  Also things that I need in my life to continue to grow as an artist.  Things that I put off and probably many other artists do.  Needing to make sure I am taking time out of my day or at least week to try new things, or do activities that keep me happy and inspired.  Drawing, painting, researching or even exploring subjects that aren't for a specific show or commission.  This can open up new ideas or artistic paths that I would have never thought to wander down. 


There were a lot of inspiring quotes and ideas through the whole book.  I have pages and pages written out that I have saved to go back to when I need them.  Here are a few!


"As artists, we cannot afford to think about who is getting ahead of us and how they don't deserve it.  The desire to be better than, can choke off the simple desire to be.  As artists, we cannot afford this thinking.  It leads us away from our own voices.  It asks us to define our own creativity in terms of someone else's."


"Anger is not meant to be acted out, or acted upon.  It points the direction"


"As a creative being, you will become more productive when coaxed than when bullied"


"For an artist, withdrawal is necessary.  An artist requires the healing of time alone.  Without this period of recharging, we become depleted."


"Creative living requires the luxury of time, which we carve out for ourselves, even if it is as small as fifteen minutes."


"Art isn't about thinking something up, but getting something down."


"Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead.  It is a closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details, and lose sight of the whole,  Instead of creating freely and allowing errors to reveal themselves later as insights, we often get stuck in getting the details right."


"Perfectionism is not a quest for the best,  It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough." 

"We cannot escape fear.  We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures.  Take a risk a day.  One small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you have done it." -Susan Jeffers


"A risk is worth taking, simply for the sake of taking it."


"As working artists, we may want to explore a new artistic area, but we don't see where it will get us.  We wonder if it will be good for our career.  Fixated on the need to have something to show for our labours, we often deny our curiosities."


"A successful creative career is always built on successful creative failures,  The trick is to survive them."

On creative drought - "In any creative life there are dry seasons.  These droughts appear from nowhere.  Life loses its sweetness, our work feels mechanical, empty, forced.  We feel we have nothing to say, and we are tempted to say nothing."  


"It is the ego's demand that our work be totally original.  All work is influenced by other work, all people influenced by other people.  Originality is the process of remaining true to ourselves."


"Many hits are sure things in retrospect.  We call many creative swans, ugly ducklings.  We abort the lives of awkward or unseemly projects that may be our finest work."


"To kill your dreams because they are irresponsible, is irresponsible to yourself."


"Creatives should remember to commit themselves not only to projects that are a sure thing, but also to those riskier projects that call to their creative souls.  You don't need to overturn a successful career in order to find creative fulfillment.  It is necessary to overturn each day's schedule slightly to allow for those small adjustments in daily trajectory that, over the long haul, alter the course and the satisfactions of our careers."

On creative growth - Climbing up the winding path of a mountain.  As we climb it, we circle back on the same views, over and over, at slightly different altitudes.  "I've been here before" we think, hitting a spell of drought.  And in a sense, we have been.  The road is never straight, doubling back on itself.  Rough terrain or storms.  A fog may obscure the way we are going and how far we have come.  The occasional vista may dazzle us.  We must proceed one step at a time, focusing on the path beneath our feet as much as the height still before us.


"As grey, as controlled, as dreamless as we may strive to be, the fire of our dreams will not stay buried.  The embers are always there, stirring in our frozen souls like winter leaves."


If you have made it this far in reading my little blog post, I would like to give you a little task.  I challenge you to take yourself on an artist date.  I would love to hear what you did and your experience with it - did you love it, did you hate it, did you become inspired?


One last thing, a little shout out to my fellow lovely art ladies that went through the artist way with me.


Julia Pileggi

Souzan Rezai

Lisa Wills

Caitlin Fysh