Bringing Art Making Into Your Life
Being a creative being in your not very creative world can be really difficult for a lot of us.
I know I have posted on this topic more than enough already but its always popping up as a problem and it’s one people ask me about a lot. For those of us who work in other areas, have families or study, whatever it is that keeps us from creativity, switching back and forth between our creative and our non creative head space can be really tricky, and sometimes it seems extra hard. People ask me: how do I drop everything else and make some art?
If you are stressed about something, like health or money its HARD to turn off that worry and go and make something, but it’s a bit like exercise where you will actually feel better if you go and do it. The funny thing is a lot of us will be busy doing something we hate, [housework whatever] and dreaming up a cool idea, but when we finally get time to ourselves we lie in a coma-like state on the couch not doing any of the things we were dreaming of and then we feel even worse for wasting our own time.
And New Years Resolutions! Aagh! Most people seem to pick resolutions that are designed to make them less happy! Rather than bringing more to their lives, they choose resolutions that are about deprivation, like giving up cake, which will leave you feeling guilty for not doing it. I have a theory that new years resolutions should bring more to your life, not less.
Learn Spanish! Great! Do a cooking class! Terrific. Learn how to walk a tightrope! Scary but fabulous. But the same question remains: how to make these things part of our lives.
A few years ago I came up with a concept I call the ArtQuest. It’s where you commit to doing an art project, for a set amount of time, in order to bring art into your life and to help set fun new habits.
For example you might decide to do one small drawing everyday for a month. Or do a watercolour every week for two months. You might choose a bigger commitment like making one large scale metal sculpture every month for a year.
A few years ago I chose to do an ArtQuest where I did one small drawing every day for a year. It was actually harder than I expected, because I’d committed to doing it even if I was busy, working, or on holiday. I never actually set a rule like doing a drawing even if I was sick- luckily I was never really sick that year so I didn’t have to decide what that meant rule wise. But it was hard and a few times I really did think, what asshole chose this project?
But the reason I chose it was because ever since finishing art school about twenty years ago, I’d pretty much been saying I should do more drawing. That’s a lot of talk and not much action. So this ArtQuest really did propel drawing back into my life and wildly improve my drawing skills too.
As some of you know I’ve been writing a book about art making for beginners for coming up to 3 years now, and it has really worn me down. I feel a bit like my own art making pratice is a bit tatty round the edges.
So as I finish off my last bit of editing on my book I decided I need to pump up the making, but in a fun way. So I have chosen to do an ArtQuest where I make some art everyday for the whole of 2019. I don’t need to create a whole piece, I can continue working on larger pieces, I can do small experiments and use whatever medium I like, so long as I so some art making every day.
So far this year I have already made loads of drawing and paintings, finished off some ceramic pieces, started some new ones, edited some photographs and just generally spent a lot of time thinking about art making which is always great.
What I haven’t yet done is make anything that I have really sunk my teeth into, and frankly I’m so busy at the moment that it might take a while to really get involved in anything major. But all this art making is making my ideas turnover really quickly and getting my art muscles into good shape. I really do believe that the more ideas you let yourself hear, indulge in, jot down and think about, the more ideas you will actually have. And some ideas get better and better the more you think about them, so its worth letting them brew for a while.
Something which is making me very happy is how many people have said they are inspired by my everyday making to make a little something themselves. People have started courses, tried new mediums and restarted abandoned art dreams.
So if you are having trouble bringing art into your life everyday, why not try an ArtQuest? It doesn’t have to be as full on as making something everyday.
You could take one thoughtful photo [as opposed to snapping away mindlessly] on the way to work everyday for a month, or join a pottery class once a week. You could make papier mache jewellery every night for a week, or simply jot down ideas for upcoming watercolour pieces every night before bed, for a month so you never feel short of ideas, when you finally get a chance to get out those paints.
Letting yourself be the creative person you want to be is really the key to this whole thing. Don’t put you art making last, put it up front in your mind, and let yourself bring art making into your life.
Now go and make some art. xx