In the life of an artist there is no one direct line of work to follow. It is difficult to know how a day will pan out unless you are actually involved in a project. The difficult time is in generating a project especially when responding in an emotional way to background noise.
It is important therefore to be able to surface from the miasma of idleness with a clear plan for forward motion. When an artist is involved in a project it is as if that is the only thing on earth that they were put here to do and optimism levels can rise to an unsubstantiated level. The ebb tide can be daunting but it is also important to recognise that ebb and flow are a normal part of an artist’s way of being and to work with that.
When studying ceramics one bright mentor said that it is important to just go into the studio and work as if that is what you always do because the work of an artist is what generates the next project. It is also important to ask yourself what it is you want. You need a clear visualisation of where you want to be and want you to produce and where you want this work to appear in order for it to manifest.You cannot plan if you do not have a big picture idea of where you want to be. BTW Has anyone heard a big picture idea from any of our pollies about where we are going to be anytime soon?
A few quick scribble reasons for being an artist. I am sure you can make the list much longer!
Can’t help myself. It comes out of me like breath.
Want to be famous
Want to make money
Want to save the world
Want to be remembered
Want to have a conversation. My way of being a part of something.
Therapy to help myself.
While it is nicer to have the conversation with others, sometimes you just need to sit and have an imaginary conversation with yourself to ask the questions. When you hear the answer then it is a matter of following some logical pathways to achieving that outcome. Sometimes the answer directs you away from the process you have been following because it is not a logical conclusion. e.g I want to make money- does art make money? Not frequently and not much. So was the original answer naive or dishonest?
Some practical things that you can pursue when you fall into the pit of doom are
1:to seek challenges to stimulate your imagination-competitions etc
2: repetitive exercises to perfect a skill
3: market research
4: choose another area of interest to focus on for a set period of time thereby giving yourself permission to step away without guilt.
5: play with your existing work, mixing it around, displaying it differently to perhaps stimulate a new idea. Imagine curating just a small fraction of your work
6: try something as exactly opposite to what you are doing as is possible eg try to make something really ugly and clumsy
7: experiment with the same idea or object in a completely different material or several different materials
8: ask people in to look and comment.
9: respond to an existing problem eg too many throw away containers, rising obesity levels, limited modern storage.
10: random dictionary slam- two unrelated words picked at random and brainstorm ideas these two words generate.
Never throw away ideas. Keep a book or scrap pile or pinboard and file them. Sometimes your ideas collection drawn in your own hand may become collectable but when dipped into occasionally can feed more ideas. These ideas percolate through your brain the more often you flick through them in a relaxed manner and when left to incubate can suddenly erupt when another random idea rubs up against them.
Pinterest is fun but unless you follow up straight from Pinterest into your own scribbled ideas you are just wasting time. Pinterest adds to your sense of futility, and envy especially if you are collecting directly from other people’s design and art pages. It also becomes a lazy way of filling you up full of other people’s stuff so that you no longer know where the real you is.
Try instead to only pinch a part of an idea or image using a tool such as snip (widget not showing!)and play with this little snippet. Steal another artists colour palette or a colour palette for interiors to give your work a contemporary look. I have been obsessing for a few years over Cy Twombly’s paintings and can endlessly amuse myself with snippets of his paintings embellished with my own work to create wishful ideas.
Try stealing objects from still life paintings, Margaret Olley has a zillion of them and I think Gwynn Hansen Piggot has given Morandi a good going over.
Stir your stumps and get making or drawing or doing whatever it is that makes you an artist! We will know the fate of the election cycle in a couple of days and life will continue for better or worse.