Making Art

Bringing Art Making Into Your Life

Changing habits – becoming an artist, my top 3 tips.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about changing habits. How we bring something new like making art into our lives, and how it becomes ingrained enough that we don’t have to beat ourselves up to get to it.

I have been away from home, [small industrial inner city] at my parents place, [large  beachy, a couple of hours from town]. We come here for a few days every few months and as usual the change is enough to get you thinking quite differently. Our routines are void, the small family member goes a bit feral [unwashed, late to bed, too many biscuits], even though we brought a pile of clothes with us we wear the same thing repeatedly.

I often find myself thinking about and planning things I am going to do ‘when I get back’. change the whole garden, start a fitness routine, ditch some bad eating habits. But usually I don’t do these things. Something about being away from home sends me into a bit of a fantasy thinking state, where I imagine how something is going to be perfect when I get back home. It’s funny because people often imagine a perfect time when they are on holidays too. But I have learnt over the years that the best place to change a habit is at home.

I have also learnt that I don’t make art when I come up here: the combination of odd routines, everyone milling around so I have no time to myself and old habits of a family home. [There’s a whole post just in that line, but that’s for another day….] So I no longer bring art equipment with me. But I do bring my journal, because the ideas continue to tickle my brain.

I have also been thinking about changing habits, because I have been changing a few lately. I have always been a night owl but the realization that I have to get up early for the whole school run shebang for the next million years made me think its time to give in and go to bed earlier. There have been other significant habit changes, but one of the main ones is writing a blog every week.

I have been writing for a few years, but just little scraps here and there. Often on bits of paper that I would gather up occasionally and type up on the computer. But there was no real big effort being made here. Since  I already  wrote down my art ideas, it wasn’t that difficult to start jotting down ideas for a book about making art. [Or as it turned out a website instead]. It’s not like I was making a big commitment or anything, not starting a new habit was I…. Hang on! That’s exactly what I was doing.  By making it easy for my self, adding a little bit at a time I was forming a new habit, a new writing habit. By the time I had edited that 30,000 words down to a website, I was totally into the swing of it.

I now find writing pretty good fun, and find that it’s not me that gets in the way of writing. Occasionally life intervenes, illness and adventure get in the way, but that’s ok, because the habit of writing seems to have stuck. And of course my writing has improved. I no longer write great lengthy rambles that take me days to edit. That’s something you can be assured of: if you make a habit of something you love, playing guitar, painting, whatever it is, you will definitely improve.

I have been going to ceramics classes again recently. Making stuff with clay is definitely high on the palaver, there’s a lot of mess and wrapping up that needs doing, but they make it really easy.  They have big table waiting for you to plonk your clay on, each student has their own shelf so they don’t have to cart their gear back and forth each time, there is a sink and sponges in the room so cleaning up at the end is automatic. When I arrive, I just grab the project I am working on, unwrap it, and start making.  Imagine if you made it that easy for you to make something at home? If it was just ready to go?

Above: one morning I got out of bed before anyone else and sat for about 4 hours and made this sculpture from clay. [Hopefully you can see its a medicine bottle and bandages]. Why? Because I had made it easy for myself. My clay stuff was ready to go and  I saw it as I went to get a cup of tea, and the next moment BANG! I am making an artwork.

There can be good habits and bad habits, and the bad ones can be pretty hard to shake. Dr Phil, [yes one of my bad habits is watching mountains of tv] says you don’t get rid of a bad habit you replace it with a better one. I think he means, that just taking something away, that you do all the time is tricky. You are left with an empty space which you probably want to fill with … the old habit. The thing is most of us enjoy our old habits or we wouldn’t be doing them. We get some reward, some payoff.

The thing is when we form a new good habit we also get a payoff. And usually a much bigger one than you get from a bad habit. For me the biggest payoff for starting a new creative habit is that you improve. You get better at whatever you are doing, and the pleasure of this is massive.

But do you sometimes feel that even though you want to make art it wouldn’t mean you could become ‘An artist’? The thing is if you form a few small art making habits they tend to escalate in the same way bad habits do and before you know it you will have become…AN ARTIST. Yes it’s true.

Top 3 ways to from a new good habit that will lead to you becoming an artist.

  1. Start small: Keep a sketchbook and pen handy, a quick continuous line drawing is the easiest sketch to do ever. You can do one watching tv ,of a family member or the dog. You can do one on the bus. Or get a great photo app on your smartphone, start taking photos whenever you see something that interests you. It can be the beginning of a series or the images you later mash up in Photoshop.
  2. Make it easy for yourself. I know we don’t all have nice studio but try to have little space you can call your own: a desk a corner of the shed. If it’s somewhere you see everyday even better : it will remind you that it’s there waiting for you.
  3. Remember the payoff! Quick improvement with only a small addition of a little art making everyday or even every couple of days.

Enjoy and remember if you make art, you are an ARTIST.

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This entry was posted on September 24, 2012 by in Inspiration and tagged .
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