Take A Guilt Free Break From Your Art / Nicholas Wilton – Ep 59
December 7, 2022
ON TODAY’S EPISODE
How do you think of yourself as an artist? You may need to think of it more broadly than you’ve typically done. The reason is this: being an artist encompasses all that you are, everything that makes up your personality, perspective, passions, and existence. You can see that being an artist is much bigger than the fact that you create.
I bring this up because there is a flawed idea out there in the artistic community, a crazy thought that we have to always be creating or always be making in order to be a true artist. I don’t know where the idea came from but it truly is insane to think that we have to be “on” all the time. So, with the holidays coming up we all probably need to be able to take a guilt-free break for the sake of your sanity. I want to share what I’ve learned about this issue in hopes that it will help you have a better perspective.
Listen if you are interested in…
- Redefining who we are as artists [1:46]
- Breaks empower objectivity, which we desperately need [10:20]
- Being vulnerable with other artists helps you break through barriers [18:55]
I challenge you to rethink the way you define yourself as an artist.
You’re an artist, but only part of what you do is make things. Much of what goes into making has nothing to do with standing before your work trying to take steps forward. Much of what makes you an artist is related to how you think about things. This is so important. I am tempted to say that it’s even more important than making things, because it’s the growth we experience in our thinking that enables us to grow as artists. That means we have to allow space in our lives, times when we are not making things, so that we can think. So the guilt we often feel about taking breaks is actually counterproductive.
When you can refresh or reframe your idea of what makes you an artist in a way that includes time off from your craft, you’ll find yourself advancing more quickly than you have in the past. That’s because when you stand at your art day after day with no breaks, you become limited in perspective, narrowly focused on what you’re doing in that moment rather than why you are doing it and what you’re trying to accomplish in it. The creative pressure you feel in those moments will drain you even more. Intentional breaks will help you avoid that dynamic and reframe your thinking so you can actually make progress.
What is the next step, based on what you’ve already done?
Part of what you can do to help yourself during your time away from your work is ask yourself a few strategic questions. I’ll highlight a few here and go more in depth on these and others, in the episode audio. But let’s start here…
What is the next step you should take in your art, based on what you’ve already done?
I accidentally discovered this question when I began holding workshops for students. I left my art and the challenges around for practical reasons; so that I could teach and help others. One thing I did near the beginning of my workshops was a Q&A session with the participants, asking them why they were attending, what they hoped to gain, and what they needed in their art making. This simple activity helped people do better art because they gained clarity about what they needed to do as the next step.
Since it worked so well for the participants in my classes, I thought it would probably serve me well, too. I was right. Taking breaks to consider my artistic path so far and where I’m at on the journey helped me recognize the things that came next, accelerating my art without me having to stand in front of it and physically work on it.
What do you have too much of in your work?
One of the questions that I’ve learned to ask during times away from my art has to do with what I already have completed on the project I’m working on, as well as the things I’ve done in the past. The question is this…
What do I have too much of in my work?
Asking this question helps me discern how to remove the things that are distorting or cluttering my work. We do this in life all the time. For example, if you find yourself exhausted because you’ve been too busy, then you need to remove activities and/or responsibilities to get back to a place where you are feeling well rested and healthy. We need to do the same thing relating to our art. What is there too much of? A certain color? A particular perspective or compositional approach? The amount of paint on the canvas? Once you can identify what needs to go and let it go, the next steps you need to take become more clear.
Join me for this episode to not only learn how to move your art forward, faster — but also to reframe your thinking around stepping away from your work.
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the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.