i need rules.

it’s easy to be really involved with a creative idea in the beginning. ultimately a road block appears where the project is avoided. it just isn’t fun anymore or it’s too complicated/time-consuming to complete at the moment.

the most disappointing part is, i rarely pick it back up. and if i do i wait forever to finish it. life has changed gears for a season, and my aim is producing more with my time. producing more of whatever it is in that moment for me. producing an intentional and finished product. one day, it’s a random craft with repurposed bottles. rearranging our den as a playroom for V. the next day, owning a task at work. organizing a junk drawer. designing a gallery wall. i’ve penned lists in my notebooks: projects at home to conquer, and project tracker with goals for work.

in order to be intentional about working through my grandiose list of possible design projects, i have defined some new personal guidelines…or something like that.

1. choose one project from the list only. enjoy thinking about the project in advance and divide the project into clear-cut steps.

take one of my latest piece for example (pictured). i wanted to do something a little different and fun with V’s birth announcements. don’t ask me why, but i had 12 different cards printed that i wanted to collage on a canvas with some sort of handpainted work included. i started by ordering the cards, obviously, and picked out canvases from my stockpile to use. then i took time to envision the piece and imagine the arrangement, colors and tools i would use. after planning out the timeline, i felt confident and excited about my upcoming craft.

Canvas with paper cards, acrylic paint and modge podge.
Canvas with paper cards, acrylic paint and modge podge.
Canvas with paper cards, acrylic paint and modge podge.
Canvas with paper cards, acrylic paint and modge podge.

2. house must be clean and all work-related tasks completed before i start to art.

my OCD mind will wander to what’s unfinished or undone, and then I’ll inevitably be juggling 15 chores with my designated project. making sure things are in the order before i step into my realm of peace with the piece.

3. communicate with the art.

quite possibly the lamest way to put it, but the most enjoyable part of any creation for me. it sounds nuts (and maybe it is). for years i have pondered God as an artist and how He must delight in the artform of nature, space and humanity across decades and dimensions. could you imagine…? i don’t [think i] have a god complex, but i appreciate the idea of imagining my blank canvas as a creation i’m breathing life into as i work.  so, i enjoy “getting weird” while i paint. fluid patterns and strokes that follow the imperfections of a specific tool. mixing colors to massage their best pigments and making sure they feel good on the canvas. that no stroke or pen mark feels completely awkward unless agreed upon between me and the brush. call me crazy, but those are my favorite pieces. they get the most of me in them.

4. let the stuff sit out.

the house is clean, so i intentionally leave my craft necessities out in a designated, but obvious, space until i finish the project. ‘not wanting to drag the supplies out’ can’t be the excuse not to finish. barring a visit from important company, i allow my supplies to get some fresh air mid-project. why not? my living room, my life. and who ever got much done without getting a little messy? (these questions aren’t rhetorical. i have to motivate myself that a little of art supplies gathered by the bookcase and gallery frames on the table are not the end of my clean house.)

 

so those are my new four rules for myself, the ultimate procrastinator. this lazy artist with all ideas and not much product to show for it lately has been churning out some stuff recently.

the creative process ebbs and flows, of course –but i’m maturing my processes to get the most out of my creative time, at least until Baby V is stealing the paintbrushes out of my hand.

image(which she can totally get away with being this cute.)

 

fingerpainting

here is a mural i fingerpainted on my bedroom wall growing up. i’m so grateful that my parents supported my creativity and allowed me to paint all over their home. this piece really means a lot to me because i painted it over the course of several years. it doesn’t have a lot of intrinsic meaning, really, but each fragment of the piece came from some song lyric i enjoyed or a memory i enjoyed musing over. then my friends started adding to it with notes and drawings, and i never even had the opportunity to feel alone or unloved when i had my friends’ colorful stuff on my wall and my parents down the hall. it really means a lot to have a family who supports the arts. thanks, mom and dad.

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hobby shmobby

i got an aa in fine arts a few years ago before i went on to get a bba in marketing. it’s only been recently that i have realized how much i didn’t appreciate that time fully. i was always annoyed with being forced to create, and it would frustrate me into making pieces that weren’t truly my best.

i don’t know if age would have helped me at all. however, now having a full-time day job that doesn’t offer me a lot of room to be creative throughout the day has put a big strain on my ability to be creative. i’m struggling more to find inspiration now that i must maintain focus on mundane work tasks, bills and chores than when i was forced to look for a muse at every turn in art school.

that’s the interesting thing about having art as a hobby. if art is in your soul, if it at the root of your passions–it’s hard not to admire the daily aesthetics. but seeing life in that beautiful and unique way for many years over time allows you to push away the urge to interpret that visual beauty into a work of art. i could push my art away for months or even indefinitely and still survive. but in doing so, my life has lost so much joy and i have fallen into that inevitable rut that keeps me from being myself–an artist, a creator.

i’m telling you all of this because i don’t think it’s so remarkable. most of us, as artists, are not fortunate enough to support ourselves on art alone (kudos to you that are that fortunate. ps: i hate you). we will always juggle the necessity of the day job to pay our bills and that yearning desire to create something from our wild, vibrant imaginations.

i’m also telling you this because it’s where i am right now. i started seriously painting–i define “seriously painting” as something beyond a sticky note sketch, something i would take care not to crumple up in the mess of my life–about a year ago. i’m like a baby artist. i still know all my techniques. my hand knows how to interpret with ink, lead and paint what i am intending on the page. but my brain and my hand seem to be at war. the once flawless duo has stopped doing what it used to do.

and that’s just where i am. i swallow my pride and my insecurity, and i just start making things. and i share them with people even if i’m afraid. i keep my art supplies out even though it makes my open studio apartment look like a total mess. but i don’t care. i don’t have the luxury of focusing all my time and energy on my creations. i don’t have the convenience i once used to in school of creating by deadline.

even if my brain and hand don’t get along like they used to, i think that now, with the passing of time and the inspiration of things i have seen and experienced, i am a better artist. an artist more aware of her flaws. more humble and willing to laugh my way through a piece. more hopeful that someone will relate to a creation of mine. and most of all, more “me.”