Any artist, or maker of anything, will likely tell you how difficult it is to stay motivated in their practice. Working predominantly on my own, as many artists do, means self motivation is key to my success, or achieving my goals.
Knowing my weaknesses, excuses, distractions etc is the first step to finding strategies to work around them. For instance, having my studio at home means the housework is within sight. Now, I’m not so interested in housework, it’s not exactly my favourite pastime, but when I have work to be getting on with in the studio, suddenly that housework is the most important thing in the world, and requires to be attended to right away. Over many years, I’ve developed various strategies to bring my focus back to my work though, such as using music to help relax my mind, having some inner chat (yes, I talk to myself!), or compromising with my inner domestic goddess, and allowing her to put on one load of washing while I get back to the studio. It might sound like madness, but it works for me! Most of the time anyway.
Now, for those of you who don’t understand what I’m on about, and perhaps are wondering why I persevere with being an artist at all, I do reap the benefits of making art when I get to the point of making it. Stood at the easel with brush in hand, and totally immersed in what I love, it really is the best feeling. I can liken it to meditation, the state of serenity or bliss when the mind slows down and you can let go of your thoughts just a little bit more than normal. Again though, getting to that meditative state takes a lot of energy, commitment and it’s quite hard work actually.
Yes, making artwork takes a lot of hard work, patience, perseverance and frankly it can be a really painful process. It takes a lot of time, and can be a daily struggle! Knowing how it makes me feel though; the releasing of tension, sense of completeness (however fleeting), happiness and the sort of expression that is beyond what I could convey in words – it makes it all so worthwhile. In any case, it’s not as if I decided this as a career path, it is simply what I am compelled to do.
So, if I could give the world any small piece of advice, it would be to find some practice or activity where you can express yourself more fully. That could mean anything, from painting to skydiving, but to find that one thing that makes your heart sing will bring harmony into your very core. It will help you to feel more alive, as my practice does for me. But do be prepared to work to achieve this bliss.