What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?Vincent Van Gogh
The challenges I face every day as an artist are quite similar to those I have faced all my life, and many are internally based. Personally I find having a subject to focus on is a good place from which to embark on my painting journey; I can then quickly move onto my preferred visual language of shape, form, colour and line. My current inspiration comes from observing women reading.
Literature is born when something in life goes slightly adrift.Simone de Beauvoir
As a keen reader, I have a lot of books in my study. I am also a member of a local book club, so this subject really resonates with me. I think the initial trigger for this current series, however, came about following a series of fortunate events, most notable of which (and those I can clearly remember!) were:
- The gift of The Reading Woman calendar for 2016, which included 12 images of “women at their books” alongside 12 woman’s words on the subjects of books & reading.
- My purchase of Women who Read are Dangerous at The Dulwich Picture Gallery.
- Participation in the Emily Ball at Seawhites Putting People into Painting course, where I realised a lot of the models were reading.
This inspiration, however, may now be becoming something of an obsession as I seem to see people reading everywhere, which makes me wonder when will new inspiration strike. And when it does, will I even notice or will I be too distracted by women reading?
The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers.Simple Abundance – A Daybook of Comfort & Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach
But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
The authentic self is the soul made visible.
Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment,
all you have is all you need.
Working as an artist can be challenging, as you are only accountable to yourself. Procrastination is an ever-present danger, alongside loneliness, from which I know many artists suffer, due to the necessary isolation experienced from working as a “sole trader”.
Historically, many artists ran studios where students and apprentices were trained and worked for the artist, supporting the completion of large scale works, without which many of the most historically significant artworks would never have been finished, and some possibly never even started.
Botticelli, for example, had an active studio set up in 15th Century Florence and Leonardo De Vinci was permitted to have assistants and pupils in his own studio in Milan when he undertook commissions for the court of Ludovico Sforza. In a letter to Ludovico in 1496, Leonardo claims he was “having to maintain” six people at the time. Not something I would wish to contemplate – I struggle with managing a cleaner!
Contemporary artists such as Damian Hirst have adopted this system and it is common among printmakers to have a studio assistant who produces their editions for them after the artist’s proofs are completed to the artist’s satisfaction.
But for the majority of us, we work alone.
When I am fully focused and healthy, procrastination is not something I personally suffer with greatly, however, I have developed some strategies to deal with it when it does occasionally strike:
My top tips for dealing with procrastination:
- Create lists
- Set SMART Goals [specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based)
- Establish a daily work routine/pattern of good habits
- Stay on task and try to avoid distractions – such as social media!
- Know when to ask for help
- Be kind to yourself
- Reward yourself
- Keep on top of essential paperwork,
- Keep my office desk clean & tidy, using pretty coloured folders to keep everything reachable & recognisable
- Listen more than speak – practice listening to myself as well as others
- Say NO more often than yes
- Be committed and reliable
- Cultivate a spirit of generosity and share gifts
- Adopt and maintain a positive mindset and attitude – which is a lot easier said than done!
Adopting and maintaining a positive mindset and attitude
This is a tricky but essential skill in my opinion. My top tips to support a positive mindset are:
- Keep smiling
- Practice gratitude – train your brain to look for the positives every day
- Make conscious choices.
- Name your emotions and use them to empower you not hold you back
- Accept compliments with good grace
- Remember everything takes practice
- Seek out good role models
People who have and continue to inspire me are:
- Basketmaker Jackie Binns – one of the most creative people I have ever met.
- Artist Francesca Clarke who introduced me to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and planted the actual idea that I am a Fine Artist (I was scared silly by this, & confused as I had just graduated as a weaver!)
- Potter & neighbour Clare Sutcliffe, who encouraged my creativity in all parts of my life.
- My 92-year-old mum whose encouragement & interest in my art is forever motivating
- Weaver/Artist Ann Sutton who is a courageous example that anything is possible.
- My husband and children who always support me and my creativity
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