Art careers don’t come overnight. They take time and patience. You must be disciplined and committed—not only into a mental facility (at times)—but seriously committed.
It’s not like waiting for the bus. That’s not the kind of patience I’m talking about. There are all kinds of different tolerance you’ll have to exercise. The hardest will be in carving out the time it takes to work.
In the meantime, how about making a promise to yourself that you are going to do this? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. Who actually said that, I do not know.
You will need a physical, dedicated space where you can create. You don’t have to spend a fortune, and it’s not necessary to rent a fancy studio. You don’t have to build an addition to your home or invest a bunch of money into your rental. But, ideally, if you can create a space where you won’t be interrupted, that would be great. Try for something permanent-ish, even if it’s the corner of your bedroom where you can always keep your supplies available.
I know artists that use their dining room and keep their supplies in a cupboard. They have to take everything out each time they paint and then put everything away when they’re done. Not ideal, but this is better than nothing. I have limited space myself, so I have to keep things pretty tidy most of the time and work on one or two things at a time, especially when I change media.
Despite where it is or what it looks like, it should be your space. It’s your art studio, and it should be seen as sacred.
You don’t have to sage the area or anything. You can if that’s your thing, but organize the area in such a way that you have access to your supplies. Put up some shelves, get some funky cabinets, dedicate some wall space, buy a cart for brushes and shit. You’ll need an easel or a table to work on. Maybe both. Make sure you have ample light. Make some investment, even if it’s small. Be resourceful. It’s important. It’s your work. Make some effort here. Take it seriously, for crying out loud.
I have had fancy studios in the past. But I’ve also worked in a corner of a room with roommates in the house. I’ve always made it work. I now work in an extra bedroom in the house I rent. I’ve even named the “studios” I’ve worked in (Rubber Soul, Moppet, H3, etc.). You don’t have to do this, but it does help define the place as something that strictly belongs to you. “The studio” works too.
Get excited and start working on your space. Hang things on the wall that inspire you. I have a few of my favorite paintings by other artists, a corkboard of all kinds of pictures and magazine clippings that make me think of interesting ideas, and some of my past paintings. I occasionally post notes or sayings that keep me mindful of things. I have little toys and trinkets around the room that make me happy.
Inside your sacred space, you should have several ground rules within its confines. Seriously, set up some invisible boundaries within its parameters. It’s a good idea to set rules or “policies” here. These are personal and totally up to you. I have many. I’ll share a few, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t broken them! I’m not perfect.
- No outside voices are allowed to enter.
- No interruptions during set working hours.
- No answering the phone while working.
- Always follow my gut
- Go with what I think feels “stupid.”
I’ve changed some over the years, but that’s the gist of ’em. Can you think of some for yourself? Maybe you can write them on post-its and stick them around your space. It keeps you on track.
Get to Work!
Perhaps you’ve heard that Picasso saying, about how inspiration exists, but it has to find you working? Or maybe it’s the “muse?” I don’t know the quote exactly, but there’s a lot to that. You can wait for the muse all day, and it might never show up! If you’re distracted while watching something stupid on TV, it may not want to come over to your house.
Yes, there will be times when you have to allow the well to fill back up, but if you are just getting started, fill up your first well with a pledge to yourself. Set yourself up right to bring your art into existence. Create your space…Build it, and it will come kind of thing.
Set a schedule.
This is important, especially at first, so you can get into a routine. Even if you’re part-time, set designated days and hours. Conduct your daily practice according to what makes sense to you. If you have four hours for the day, maybe set aside the first hour to prepping canvases, journaling or sketching, or whatever helps start your day.
I’m a super early riser, and I like the morning light. I do administrative stuff before the sun comes up and then do the art-making once the sun pops up until lunch. I start with writing and drawing, planning compositions, then get to actual painting in that beautiful white glow of the sun.
These days, I haven’t been as strict with my schedule as I once was, but for the majority of my career, I took my schedule very seriously, especially at first when I was building various bodies of work. I’d like to talk about that next time, if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me, in Building Your House Part 3, which I’ll be posting on the 27th. Until then, have a great holiday!