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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shaking off the Dust


I had a nice comment posted from Adrienne the other day. She specifically mentioned: "Would love to hear your comments about how you stay motivated. What do you do when you feel stale? Or do you ever?"

I do get "stale." Tired might be more accurate. I spend a lot of time in the studio each day hard at work at my easel and managing the many other areas related to the business of being an artist. I have found several things that help if I can't get my mind in the creative spirit. 

The most important approach for me personally... getting up early! Sound too simple? I started getting up at 5 am several years ago. It changed my life. Seriously, getting up early has made a huge difference. I often get more done before 8 am than I do in the next few hours of the day. The phone does not ring, the kids are asleep, and if you had at least 6 or 7 hours of sleep the night before, you are good to go.

I read as much as I can, too. Spending time with my art books, pouring over photo reproductions and reading about other artists, their work, and their lives can really get you in the mood to get back to work.

One other "secret." If getting started is the trouble... I start to work on whatever I am having difficulty with.  RIGHT AWAY! I just make a mark! Once I stop thinking about why I can't do whatever it is and just try, I begin to solve problems. Slowly, but surely I become inspired! And if getting back to a piece is the trouble... I make a mark! I have often found that so much of painting is problem solving. If I will just take the plunge, I find myself hard at work to make things right.

I have more thoughts on shaking off the dust, but I will save those for another day!

9 comments:

Art Lady said...

It's actually comforting to know that artists at all levels face the same challenges. Going out on the driveway with a blank canvas and pretending you're Jackson Pollock helps too (and the kids can help!).

MIchael Shane Neal said...

Sounds like fun! My little artist would love that. Thanks for stopping in. The challenges are always there. In many ways they get harder and harder because you expect more and more from yourself. Hope to see you soon!

Janvangogh said...

I like your advice to work on what you are having difficulty with right away.

Most of the time the difficulties really are only minor things. It is neglecting them that makes them difficult. I am very guilty of this.

C. Ousley said...

I move around mediums. Oil then gouache, acrylic watercolor, draw, pen & ink back to oil etc. cut some linoleum with some keyboard playing thrown in. Mix it up. Works for me.

Rebecca Finch said...

I find that other artists' work tends to inspire me the most. I usually take a stoll and visit my list of favorite artist's websites and blogs to see what they're up to. Or flip through my favorite art books. And that usually takes care of it.

I also have a few hobbies that I enjoy on the side that allow for a creative outlet. Sometimes being creative in a totally different craft or medium helps as well.

I'll have to try that getting up early thing, though. That one has got to be the least fun, yet most effective tactic.

Thank you for your blog. I'm so glad I found it.

MIchael Shane Neal said...

Thanks, guys. Great ideas. I too find that changing things up helps. Moving to landscape, figure, or still life really provides a nice break from the portraits. I also like to "weed" in the garden! 20 minutes outside can make a world of difference in how i see something with fresh eyes when i return to the studio. Thanks so much for your comments!

Burnell Yow! said...

Nothing gets me quite as inspired as spending a few hours perusing the galleries and co-ops on First Friday in Philadelphia's Old City area. I also enjoy reading what other artists say about their work and art in general, and in seeing - either first-hand or in photos or videos - other artists' studios.

Laurel Alanna McBrine said...

It was nice to meet you at the PSA conference. I am now thoroughly enjoying going through your blog and reading the archives.

I recently read a book about procrastination called "Eat That Frog".

Some funny but pertinent thoughts from the book are:

If you have to eat a live frog, it is best not to stare at it for too long first.

If you have to eat two frogs, pick the biggest, ugliest one to eat first.

It is such a relief to get the thing you are dreading off your to do list.

MIchael Shane Neal said...

Thanks, Laurel. So appreciate your comments. We all struggle with inspiration sometime... discipline all the time! Keep up the hard work!