Drawing on the past for the future
A slightly belated Happy New Year to all – here’s hoping 2016 is a good one!
I tend to dodge the cliché of New Year resolutions (usually totally unrealistic and nearly always quickly followed by a sense of failure). I do however find the ending of one year and the beginning of another a useful milestone to reflect on my recent art practice, and think about the direction I would like to take over the next 12 months.
My three headline lessons learnt from the studio from 2015 are:
1. Make time
I need to make time at least once every week to be in the art studio. The pressures of day-to-day life often make it easy to have an excuse not to do something art-related. I need to remember taking time to do art work actually helps to create a work-life balance. On the flipside I also need to accept, if I’m not inspired or productive, it is not a failure to walk away and reschedule an art studio session for another time.
The best opportunities from 2015 have been as a result of socialising – whether that be with friends, family, work colleagues, visits to places and events, or social media. These activities can sometime seem like they are simply taking me away from the studio but they actually enhance my work with conversations leading to both inspiration and opportunities.
Recently completed work ‘Five’ with its new owner – a drawing request initiated through talking about my work to others.
3. Be positive
It is easy to become disheartened if work in the art studio is not progressing as you would like. At times like this you start to compare yourself to others and feel insecure about all aspects of your work - concept, quality and general direction. It is not only important to be inspired by others rather than intimidated, but also to talk about your work in a positive way. I’ve had many useful conversations this year whilst in a creative cul-de-sac. These helped my work to take directions it never would have if I have allowed negative doubts to keep me silent.
With this in mind I have set myself the following goals for 2016:
With limited time to dedicate to producing art work I need to ensure the time I do get is spent using energy positively. There have been instances where I’ve been completely unable to find a way to resolve paintings leading to unproductive despair. In order to overcome this I want to experiment with drawing within my paintings. I find drawing a lot more immediate and want to try recreating the energy from my drawn work on small scale paper works to larger scale canvases. The introduction of an additional medium to my paintings also brings the excitement of new challenges to prevent my work becoming formulaic.
‘Donatello’ is an example of a recent A4 drawing and the mark-marking I would like to try to capture on a larger scale.
(b) Get planning!
Create a proper schedule to plan my studio time. I need to get in the habit of making, researching, reflecting and promoting my art work part of my regular routine, and to use this dedicated time wisely and exclusively. This means establishing when to prioritise activities around my art work above other commitments, and when to prioritise those other commitments and not feel anxious that my art work is suffering as a result. This is more a frame of mind than anything else and I hope it will lead to a much more balanced and rational approach to both my leisure and work time.
My ultimate goal would be able to make a living from my passion for art. I am far too sensible (with too many commitments and not enough financial backing) to follow an unrealistic romantic vision of abandoning the rat race and becoming an artistic recluse. A step in this direction would however be to finally get round to registering as self-employed. This would allow me to actively apply for funding and residency opportunities, and push to sell my work professionally.
If you have any tales to tell (either celebratory or cautionary) relating to taking the self-employed artist plunge I would love to hear about your experiences. It will be interesting to reflect back on this post during 2016 to see how I am progressing against these goals…