Bringing Art Making Into Your Life
If you make art you are an artist. The tricky bit is being able to make art making, part of your life.
I have had plenty of patches in my life where I didn’t make much. Or if I did make anything it was unrelated random artworks, rather than working in a continuous thread which I prefer. Or your artistic urges get pushed into other creative areas like gardening or cooking. If you haven’t been making any art for a while, it can be quite hard to start because you know you have to go through that initial out-of-practice patch before you will be in a groove. Sometimes its easier just to let it slide. But then you remember how good you feel when you are in the art making groove.
Also you have to choose to let making art have a place and time in your life. I was in a biggish relationship for a while and while it’s not at all that person’s fault that I didn’t make art, it was just something that got left behind. It wasn’t something you did. Certainly not instead of going surfing or whatever. The moral of the story is choose friends and lovers with more similar interests, or at least with a little balance. After all you actually can surf/play golf/watch the footie and make art in the same weekend. [ A surf or swim in the morning, some art making in the afternoon and a few drinks and dinner with friends at night. Now that’s what I call a nice day.]
Sometimes you do just have to say I am going to stay in and do this thing now. Write some music, do some painting. If you have been wanting to make some art again for a while and you suddenly start turning down invites it can test your friendships a bit. It can also hurt your fiends feelings if you have been spending a lot of time with them and you suddenly are wanting to prioritize your time a bit differently. Everybody has stuff they need to do on their own and you may just have to have a little talk about it with your friends. It reminds me a bit of when someone gets a new boy/girl friend. It’s like being 12 again right? You don’t love me anymore!
There are times when finding time to make art is going to be super tough; doing exams, looking after someone sick, caring for new baby, changing jobs… But once these times ease as they hopefully will, think about trying to get a bit of the balance art making can bring to your mind, or at least trying to get some art thinking into your life. Going to a gallery, reading art books , or noodling on the internet, checking out online galleries. Its one little step in making art part of your life. It’s like telling your brain, this is important to me.
I don’t think I made a single thing from when I was about 4 months pregnant [apparently morning sickness can be all day sickness] to my little one being about 1.Then one day I made two small sculptures just from cheap stuff around the house, [ because my art stuff had gotten scattered in the meantime]. I felt a certain equilibrium had returned to my life although it still took a long time before making art was back in my life on a regular basis. Those sculptures are still right there on my desk because they are good reminders that you often can squeeze a little making art in to your day.
Above: The first sculpture that I made and below it’s detail. A piece of wood about 30cm [12 inches] long, with newspaper papier mache and recycled cardboard shapes glued on.
Above: The second sculpture I made and its detail, again on a piece of old wood and this time I painted the cardboard afterwards. These two little sculptures later led to a series of large abstract works.
But if you aren’t ready to start making art yet, maybe you just finished a huge slog of work and you are feeling pretty dry? Or for whatever reason you can’t even think straight? Well art making will be there waiting for you, because as I have said before you are never to old to make art. [ See my post on this topic.]
We also like to say stuff like I can’t afford to make any art! Supplies are so expensive or , I don’t have anywhere to make art. Some people are genuinely poverty stricken and homeless, but for most of us these excuses don’t really fly. Art can be made with very cheap supplies, from the $2 shop [ or whatever is the equivalent in your part of the world, bargain shop? wall mart?]. Yes the cheap oil paint is dodgy, but it still works. Or 45 textas [kids felt tip pens] for about $6 from the supermarket. Papier mache?- Old newspapers and glue made with flour. Or making things from found objects. I made a pile of sculptures from rope that I found lying around the slightly seedy area I live in. Sewn together with fishing line.
I work mostly at a desk and on my kitchen table too.[Yes sometimes I make everyone eat sitting on the lounge instead.] No glamorous studios round this joint, but if you can find a little space you can leave your art set up so you don’t have to tidy up all the time you will find its a lot easier to squeeze in some making. Its pretty off- putting if you have to set it all up and pack it away every time.
I know I mention it a lot but I find that if I carry a little notebook around with me and a jot down ideas, it makes bringing art into my life much easier to do. It’s like making me aware that my art making is just ready for me and I can jump in at any point. The notebook makes it a part of everyday not just the days you get a chance to sit down and make something. [For more on this see the Capturing Ideas section of the Making Art website.]
But for the most part it’s not other people that stop us from making art. Or even our circumstance. Its ourselves.
Look, the thing is if you start making art there’s no telling where it may lead.
So what are my top 6 tips for making art part of your life?
Good luck, may the art be with you and remember you can post images of your art on the Making Art Facebook page.