This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. She’s blogged since 2002 about the business side–and the spiritual inside–of art. She says, “I share my experiences so you won’t have to make ALL the same mistakes I did….” For ten years, Luann also wrote a column (“Craft Matters”) for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explored the funnier side of her life in craft. She’s a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines, and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.
Know when to push through, and when to take a break!
Studies on exercise show that mixing up the intensity, even a little in a single workout, burns off more calories than a slow, steady pace. Perhaps because it catches our body metabolism off-guard a wee bit, causing it to “rev” a little higher, even when we slow back down again. It helps with training, too. Swimmers use this technique to increase endurance and strength.
I don’t ascribe to the “no pain, no gain” school of thought–too much pain for not much gain when I injure myself! But I’ll admit, I can tell the difference between a workout when I push myself a little bit more than usual, and one where I hang back, “saving” my strength in case I need it later.
It’s a human thing, and not necessarily a bad one. There are times to ease up, come up for air, and take a look around.
But here’s the thing: There’s no “later”.
Yeah, there is a slight chance I will need to lift a car off someone today, and I will need a lot of strength for that. But easing up and saving my strength doesn’t go into a penny jar someplace, where I can extract that strength back. (Have I labored this metaphor enough? Moving on….)
In the end, “saving our energy” is just an excuse to not put in that extra effort.
There is also no “later” when it comes to making your art.
There’s a tendency for artists to hang back sometimes, too, to “pace themselves.” Not stretching themselves to reach further, or pushing themselves to go farther.
We say we’re just too busy with other stuff. Or we say we’re just taking a break. Maybe we feel a little bored….
But for me, often, that’s not really it. So why do we procrastinate about getting to our studio?
Honestly, I think it’s this:
We’re afraid we’ll run out of ideas.
If you’re like me, then every time I make my “best piece”, I secretly worry it’s my LAST best piece. I can’t imagine coming up with an even better design. I worry I will run out of stories. I fret about whether a new animal will join my menagerie.
So we stick to the same ol’ same ol, never trying anything new, never taking risks or putting our work out there.
Here is the most important five words you will read in this article: Trust me.
You won’t run out of ideas.
Working on new ideas generates MORE ideas. Perfecting a technique gets your hands busy on cruise control, freeing the mind to wander further ahead–“And what if instead of doing THIS, I tried THIS…?” “What if I use THIS color here instead?”
Every single time I’ve been stuck–and oh Lordy, have I been stuck the past few years!–pushing myself to do the work has helped me break through.
So try mixing it up in your artistic workout today. Warm up with the stuff you know how to do.
Then push yourself a wee bit…and see where it takes you.
Let us know!