Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Please tell me you don't work full time!....

I had a comment the other day on my blog : "Please tell me you don't work full time so I can let go some of the inferiority complex!". It got me thinking - I am very lucky to be able to say that I don't work full-time, and my job as school librarian also means I only work school terms. On the other hand, I don't sit and "do art" all day! I have the normal washing, school lunches, meals, cleaning the house, gardening etc to do around my library job; I go to the gym to keep fit and healthy; I have 2 active boys that need driving places,to be watched at their games, and supported with homework etc, and I spend time socialising with friends and family - I have a busy, and sometimes too-busy, life :-) 
But there are some things that I do and don't do that help me be as productive as I am, so thought I would share those things here in the hope they might help you.
Decide what you will create : Focus on only 1 or 2 projects. Easy for me to say - a friend commented on my list of creative projects - to her it was a large list. In my head, I am focusing on one art journal, one mixed media class, and making quilts (one at a time!) Currently I'm not feeling overwhelmed or torn between projects. If you are having trouble making a choice of what to do, write your options on pieces of paper, put them in a bowl and draw one out....if you are disappointed when "that project in your head" didn't come out - then you know that's the project you should be doing!
Unsure yet about your artistic voice? Create a pinboard to define what is "you". Gather at least 10 images of your work and, if you like, an artist you admire. What themes do you see? What colours show up regularly? What are your/the artist's signature techniques? Put up photos of your work that you love as well as a few other creative projects. What's your favourite project from last year? If you gather together a record of what you love, you'll see commonalities. An example for me is to always add stitch. You may remember that was the perfect finish for my affirmation feather. Try not to do too much of this gathering on pinterest.... see the next point! Also say "no" when invited to participate in projects that are not your love. Do what makes YOU happy. Be joyful in creating : this was a  take-home lesson from my classes with Karen Stone - we spend enough time doing things we "should". 
Get off screens - I think most of us are conscious of what we should do, but we need to act! BEFORE YOU PLOP DOWN IN FRONT OF THE TV OR COMPUTER - GO TO YOUR {PLACE WHERE YOU STORE YOUR CREATIVE STUFF} AND REMIND YOURSELF WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO BE DOING. I now hardly watch TV unless it's something with my family, and I even created a fabric banner that hangs above our computer to remind me to get off and create  
"Into the studio arty girl"
If you are looking for inspiration online, you would be better served by exploring Alisa Burke's free Finding your muse class that will get you off the computer and into your world to fill your creative inspiration well.
CREATE DAILY The key thing to the way I work is Micro-movements. I shared about that in this blogpost in January 2012. I've been told it is worth reading...You don't need an hour or more at a time to create. The effect of micro-movements is 2-fold. Finding 5 minutes here and there in your day can quickly build up to 1/2 - 1 hour in a day, which is 7 hours in a week...secondly, if I feel in a bit of a creative slump, I can trick myself by saying "I'll just do 5 minutes" - often that is enough to get me going :-) 
Find a project that makes you want to show up – the best thing about my year so far has been committing to Life Book and the FREE Documented Life projects – they help to get me to “show up” at my art desk because I don't want to get behind – and that leads to creative joy once I start, often with a simple step of my first background layer and no idea of where it will lead me.
Keep all your supplies together and find a way to leave your project out - this totally supports micro-movements. I am very lucky to have studio space, but previously I fitted into a small office. Even if you can't manage that, can you have a space/a table/a tray for creating mixed media? 
When I created my 14 layers on my last journal spread, I did one layer, and then went away and did something else. When I came back, that was dry, and I could do the next step.
Can you leave your sewing machine out all threaded up and ready to go? I am very keen to make this quilt - it's only going to happen one seam at a time!
Can you have a basket with supplies always ready for hand-stitching? I always have a book with me in case I have to wait in the car unexpectedly. Can you have a small journal or stitch project you can carry everywhere with you?
Be kind to yourself. Don't compare - unless it's with yourself! what were you doing last year? what have you learned? what are you able to do now? have your circumstances changed so you need to celebrate what you can still manage now you have less time? are you moving forward on your creative journey?
Celebrate your achievements - keep a record of your completed projects in photographs and display them on a board, or put them in an album. Keep a notebook of projects where you learned something or just had a good time, even if you didn't "finish" something. Keep a record of what's been inspiring you - books, movies, music, places. 
Productivity and creativity breed productivity and creativity. When I wasn't productive, I found it hard to be - now I am, it seems easier to find time and to keep doing projects - I think it's a head space thing as much as anything else.
I know I am VERY lucky in my situation - I am supported by my husband to be able to take some classes, and I have some disposable time in my days. But I have choices about how I spend my time, and so do you. I could have a perfect weed-free garden and a spotless house...but I don't choose that. And sometimes I just choose to lie on the couch and read a good novel
My latest favourite read - was sorry it had to end
or go for a walk and have coffee, and I don't get out to my studio all day. And that's all good too, as long as you don't stay away from your art every day!
What choices are you willing to make so you can create more art? Or how can you better recognise what you ARE doing, and feel good about what you are doing in the time you have?  I hope this post doesn't sound preachy. I did it to inspire you. Talk to you again soon.


  1. Ooh I'm famous. Sort of!
    great post, thanks for the tips.

  2. Wonderful post and all very true. I think it's important to understand that art is something you have to make time for (if you want to actually do it that is) and that means often you have to let something else go. And indeed there are many in between moments that can add up to a lot of time.
    I have to smile at the tv thing. It always amazes me how people say they have no time but are somehow always up to dat with every crime or reality show out there. ;-)


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