Saturday, August 23, 2008

An apple a day

Here is another of my watercolor practice studies. Yesterday Kiddo had an upset tummy so while she was camped out on the couch I set up shop at the kitchen table and spent the day practicing with watercolors. From my spot in the kitchen I could easily keep an eye on her and fetch her ice chips and popsicles. She is much better today.

I had a comment on a previous post about staying focused from Hibbymom. She is also my sister-in-law, a very creative painter and photographer. She asked, "Can you do a whole post on how you stay focused? I find myself struggling at times." So here you go Roe!

Actually, I don't know that I do the best I could be doing at staying focused with my art, but I do keep trying to make it all work. Like most people, I have other activities that severely limit the time I have available for working on my art. However, I do have a few strategies that help keep me on track to make the best use of my valuable art time.

1. Set goals. My goal for my art in 2007 was to make art. That worked up to a point. You know that I wasn't really making any art at all for a very long time, so by just acknowledging that I wanted to make time for art in my life again gave me some motivation to do so. My goals for 2008 for my art were more extensive. I occasionally review that list of goals and revise when necessary. For example, I have moved from doing the Everyday Matters drawing challenges in graphite to using watercolor for some, as I have added the goal of learning to become comfortable with watercolor for journaling. I also realize that even though I may not do one finished colored pencil piece in a given month, there may also come a month when I finish two, or more, so I don't beat myself up over it. These goals are a guide, they aren't written in stone.

2. Which brings me to my next point. I also know that I go through a cycles of productivity. There are times when I only want to work on art and other times when even though I have time for making art I am not so productive. Kind of like Sammie dog needing to circle around several times before settling down, I go through the paces of circling before I can settle in to begin something. I see that as all part of the process, a kind of natural ebb and flow. And even though those less-than-productive times don't result in a finished product there is a mental processing happening that leads me to the next thing.

3. So what do I do while circling and not settling on the next project? I look at art books and magazines. I read artists' blogs. Seeing the work of others, reading about their processes, is one way I keep art in the forefront of my thinking. About a month ago Maggie Stiefvater had a great post on motivation over on her blog, Greywaren Art. Whenever I need a good butt-kicking, Maggie's sure to come through with sound motivational advice!

4. I also belong to a couple of online artist communities. Wet Canvas is a valuable and vast resource for artists and a good place to share art work with others while learning from other artists in any media. And they are all represented there so you can jump around from watercolor to collage to photography and more. It was through the Wet Canvas site that I learned much about techniques with colored pencil. Their monthly challenges gave me projects to work on all the while developing skills and getting feedback from other members. Visiting the websites and blogs of other members opened up for me the potential of sharing art online.

5. Keeping a blog of my artistic journey has been hugely motivating. I have a chronicle of my process over the past year and writing about my work for others to read helps me to stay focused on my intentions with my art work.

6. Another online venue that has helped me stay focused is the wonderful community of artists that belong to the Everyday Matters group. Where Wet Canvas excels at support when concentrating in any one media , EDM is a place where artists of all different levels of experience working in a variety of media come together to share ideas and offer support. Doing the weekly drawing challenges has helped me not only expand my drawing skills but also move outside of my comfort zone. Not only with subject matter but also with different media, sometimes trying the very things I would have avoided just a year ago.

So Roe, that's my advice. Set some goals. Make creativity a habit. Accept that you will have very productive and not-so-productive times so be prepared to go with it by using your time to your best advantage. Join an online group or two. Start posting your art and photography on your blog. Visit other artists blogs, websites, and local art galleries. I know you have tons of stunning photographs and I remember when you did beautiful watercolor paintings. Do you have a sketchbook? Get one. Maybe I'll even see you over at the Everyday Matters group!


Jennifer Rose said...

This is a great post! :D I have such a hard time setting goals and then finishing them. Trying to work on that lol I know I need to draw more so that is a goal that I am really trying to do

Anonymous said...

Nice drawing and nice motivating thoughts.

seesue said...

Ilove all the colour you've managed to pull into your apple. Nicely done! and sharing your motivational thoughts...great.

HibbyMom said...

Thanks Ann! You're a great "mentor" as well as motivator! I've really been dragging my heels lately and needed a kick. I've already joined Wet Canvas and will get me a sketchbook (and "take my camera" where ever I go!!) Time to get back on track!

The Happy Painter said...

Whoa. Not only am I enjoying your water color pencil sketches but this is one great post. I know some folks feel so guilty when they are in a dry spell and forget that the coffee pot has to brew before the coffee is ready to drink!

freebird said...

Thank you. It's a great post. Trouble comes when the well stays dry too long but perhaps the goal setting I've done is too general. Thanks to your sister-in-law for asking the question too.

susan said...

I really like the colors/values in your apple. I also enjoyed reading your blog this was very refreshing!


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