Momentum (original post from July 6, 2011)

“To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage.”  – Georgia O’Keefe

I’m still working on how to live a fully integrated – creative life. It’s funny that I am focussing on this right now because today was the first day since last April that I’ve been able to spend a full uninterrupted day in my studio. These past few months have made me think about my rhythms and the best way for me to work.

Creative momentum must be cultivated. It’s not an automatic self-sustaining condition. In my last post I talked about trying to be creative in all areas of my life no matter what I am doing.  I wasn’t just talking about finding the time to be creative but to actually live creatively. We all have full schedules and lots of responsibilities that take us away from our art making. I’m trying to discover how to keep my creative momentum going whether I’m in my studio or not.

To be able to keep this momentum, I need to approach all my tasks as a chance for inspiration and renewal. If I can keep from being frustrated or annoyed about all the things that take me away from my work, maybe I will be able to notice more about the world around me. And that just might help, because I believe creativity must be a frame of mind – a way of looking and being in the world – not based on talent at all – just a way of being.

There’s that Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.”  I take this to mean that all tasks are important. So to be a better artist, I need to notice everything – textures, smells — to be present in each moment no matter how mundane or annoying the task is. I believe everything you create has a lifetime’s worth of information contained within it. It’s the result of all you’ve seen and touched. If that’s true, then paying attention becomes very important. In fact, even though I may grumble, I find that stepping away from my studio and doing other work creates a little ‘mind-space’ so ideas can bubble up.

And then sometimes, even with the time to be in my studio, creativity and inspiration can be missing. I have a few things that spark momentum for me. Gardening is a big one. There’s something about being in my garden that makes me peaceful and it’s in that peaceful state I feel most creative. Taking a long walk or listening to music also feed my creativity and can be a source of inspiration. And of course just being in my studio is the best. What works for you?

This summer has also made me realize that it’s important to establish good working habits by actually scheduling time to be in my studio. With such a crazy schedule the last few months, it’s been hard to juggle my creative energy. Just because I find an hour or so to work, doesn’t mean I’m always in the right frame of mind to create anything.

There’s a John Cage quote that I’ve always felt is true, “The only rule is work. If you work, it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.”

So I’ve decided to try and have at least 3 consecutive days in my studio. It’s easier for me to work consistently and not have my work days scatter throughout the week. My (new) plan is to be in my studio on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday leaving Monday and Friday for household responsibilities and I like leaving the weekends free for fun with my family.

This schedule is to be my work time. I’m not going to make appointments, wash clothes, answer the phone or email or think about what to make for dinner. This time is to be strictly for me. 3 days is important because I feel like when I first get back in my studio after a few days away, I need a little time to clean and organize. The physical action of just moving things around, touching my clay and paints helps to put me in the right frame of mind. And it’s also important to have uninterrupted time to follow an idea.

The only problem with these good ideas is inspiration and creativity don’t always show up just because you have a chance to work. That’s why I think weaving creativity throughout all your tasks is important, but it’s also important to give yourself a chance to experience new things and have some time for quiet nothingness.  How do you keep yourself motivated and schedule your work time?

I’ve also signed up for an October encaustic workshop. I’d love to use clay as my canvas. I can’t wait to learn more!

About Judy Shreve

Blogging for me is like keeping a journal which I have done in various forms since I can remember. But what's great about this format is it offers an opportunity to explore all the things that interest me as an artist with others. Blogging seems to strengthen that sense of being part of both something personal and something universal. It takes the journaling idea and expands it through visitor's comments creating a valuable dialog that connects us to each other no matter where we live. I enjoy responding to each comment and warmly welcome your visits. email: judyshreve at mac dot com
This entry was posted in art philosophy, mixed media, sketchbook and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Momentum (original post from July 6, 2011)

  1. Dave Dubé says:

    Your little drawing of the train – my mother in law (I call her Grandma) has a small train like that with barnyard animals – which she received as a child. Whimsical to say the least. You rekindled a memory!

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Hi Dave – I’d love to see your ‘Grandma’s’ train. We were in the process of thinking of moving when I drew that. I have been feeding the birds where we are now for years – and I started thinking about ‘how could I move not just the birdhouses & feeders, but all of the birds too. I’m in the process of creating a painting from that sketch.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. Robyn says:

    Very inspiring post! Sometimes I have to work through the resistance to keep the momentum going. Knowing that there will often be resistance and that one can work through it, helps me to keep moving forward. A trick I’ve learned is to have pieces that I’m proud of nearby and I’ve often used these pieces as a springboard to the next one.

  3. I’m so impressed with your art and your lovely drawing. There is a softness in your art that I can relate to. I totally understand the concept of making time, consecutive time, in the studio.

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Thank you for stopping by and your lovely comments. It is difficult to get studio time some days. I’m trying to see that is just part of life and use the time away to fuel the times I get to make art. Easier to say than do!

  4. Everything you say here really strikes a chord with me, and relates very much to my buried treasure post, re: why do we make art, and how do we fit it into our lives? I like what you said about being creative and present in every moment- something I often forget. I find it does help to take those ‘breaks’- gardening is one of my reflective times, too.

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Sharmon – I just read your post on why we make art and can so relate to yours as well. In a conversation the other day someone mentioned that they could draw – but never did – so I think those of us that make art have a ‘drive’ that makes it necessary for us — almost like breathing.

  5. I love the quote at the start of your post and can relate to what you said about creating rythmn. Your plan sounds great and like youv’e been really listening to yourself and what you need. Best wishes for creative studio time!

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Thanks Lisa — it does take courage to push through those vulnerbilities to create art! And it’s a constant ever-shifting dance to find that studio rhythm — and it’s true for all of us, I think. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  6. deb says:

    It is so hard to stay on track, to show up, to do the work, to go to the studio blank with no ideas. What a great post, I hope that the new schedule is working for you.

  7. Norma says:

    I loved reading this post. Lately I’ve also been feeling that doing things creatively means living creatively. It is not an off/on switch. So peel the potato creatively with ‘creative’ mind. And then what will happen is the peelings will fall into a pattern that sparks an idea, or fall onto something that makes me notice the color combo of brown and whatever it fell onto. It feels natural or more like being in the world of nature to live like this. It’s a lofty ideal for me anyway. Loved your post. Love your drawing. Really fabby! *smiles* Norma

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Hi Norma – I love your comments! That’s exactly what I mean – I want to really pay attention! – easier some days. I visited your blog and love your work. ‘the summer of color’ looks so fun. Wish I had known about it.

  8. Holly Dean says:

    How I relate to what you are saying! I experience similar thoughts myself and find that writing about them really helps me come to grips with how to handle this amazing creative life. It always seems to be about balance. And about making our own creative time important. I hope you find your way to my website and blog when you get the chance. I think you will see some of the same thoughts expressed there. As artists we all look for ways to keep that creative spark in all we do. Thank you for this post – I really enjoyed it!

  9. Kelly Warren says:

    This rings so true for me. Finding time is my biggest challenge. I work full-time and have twin 8-year-old daughters on top of my creative endeavors, and I’ve long given upon finding balance. Most days, my best shot is to grab an hour here and there in my studio, but living life creatively brings it all together for me.

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Hi Kelly – you must be so busy! – twin daughters! I’m married to an identical twin. Keeping a ‘work’ journal really helped me when my son was young. I was always forgetting my ideas- lol. Good for you for grabbing studio time when you can.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *