One of the biggest barriers to the creative process is not having a place, time, or discipline to do creative work. This is a common problem among creatives, especially those who have never gone to completion on any of their work however talented they may be. Starting and abandoning projects is only a problem if it bothers you. It bothered me, so I had to make some changes. Below are the step I took to create momentum.
The most common hurdles to creative success: No space; No time; No inspiration; No discipline; No Goal; No confidence.
As a beginning artist, completing work can be really hard to accomplish. You get into the zone you do 70% of a piece and then you abandon the project. Next thing you know two years have passed, your paint set is dried out and your brushes are destroyed.
This is actually really damaging; it upsets the creative/reality continuum.
It creates insecurity in the mind about your talent and desire. It also robs you of the rewards inherent to the creative process. It is such an amazing feeling to create something and have it be done. Once its done it can be shared, it can be hung on the wall, it can be shown at an exhibit, it can be used for its purpose. By completing the work you unlock its potential energy. By leaving it unfinished you create energetic clogs.
Another major impediment to work is mental confusion relating to your identity as an artist. Is this a hobby? Is this my calling? Whats selling right now? What do galleries want? Do I even want to sell? You need to quiet all this talk. Give yourself permission to follow the process below without knowing what your endgame is. Make things that matter to you for now.
There is hope! This past year I was able to overcome many of the hurdles blocking my ability to bring works to completion. I have a few tips on how I was able to create the space-time to create.
1. Develop a concept for your project: Commit to completing a single project. It should be big enough that it requires time and effort to complete, but not so big that you could create any excuse for putting it off. In my case, I knew that I wanted to create a series of my dance-music-paintings which became Impressions of Stardust. I had done a few demo paintings and liked how they turned out. I felt conviction to complete the project: 12 Paintings.
2. Create and publicize and event to showcase your project: When you are developing discipline, it requires accountability. By creating and publicizing an event about your project, you manufacture accountability.
Make the event manageable and don't give yourself too much time to complete it (in my case, less than 6 months).You do not want any excuse to cancel your event or push it back. It's time to put on your big girl panties and put yourself out there!
I decided to throw myself a 30th Birthday Party/Art Show. I did not collaborate with anyone nor did I wait for a gallery to pick me up. I rented a space and sent out the invitations. The paintings had to get done because people were coming and by the time my art show happened I had invested a lot of time and money.
So you have a project in mind, you have an event planned - now its time to create the space-time to deliver on 1 & 2.
3. Carving out Workspace: You need a place to work because creating art can be messy business. If you want to accomplish your show, you will need a place to work where you can leave things out to dry, a place to store your materials and utensils, and a place where you have some privacy. If this is your first show, you need a place where the naysayers cannot enter. You cannot let anyone get in your head, in fact you need to get out of your own way, so you need a private space where you can make mistakes and fail. I reclaimed the second bedroom in my apartment. I made it clear guests can sleep on the couch. I cleaned the room out, then i prepared the floors, organized my paint, bought loads of canvas.
4. Prepare your canvases: My project goal was 12 paintings. So once i did two or three and i got a feel for my technique and style, i stretched all the other canvases i would need to complete at once. Getting these small tasks (preparing studio and canvases) really clears more mental clutter than you can imagine. These preparatory steps can really make the difference between success and failure.
5. Sketch/Map 0ut Your Project: Before you start creating, draw a loose outline of what each component of your project will be and what is required to complete it. Get those things. For my show, I needed to get my songs picked out and make sure i had colors for them. Then i completed different paintings with similar colors at the same time.
The studio is ready, the canvases (or whatever) are stretched, the project is planned. Now its time to create. The following may not apply to everyone but works for me.
6. Don't get Wasted: I do like to sip some wine while I paint, but there is a fine line. I made the mistake on my first attempts of thinking that I should create while "pleasantly activated". Don't do this!
Next thing you know you are in the kitchen, covered in paint, calling people just to see how they are and tell them you love them or hate them! So if this is a potential issue, sip don't gulp and reconsider drinking all together. I live and let live, this is just my experience.
7. Stretch/Warm Up Physically: In my case I dance my paintings, so I have to warm up. However, I recommend this for all artists. Whether you are drawing, sculpting or painting your body is involved. By taking some deep breathes and stretching out your body it helps relax and energize your body, it helps your mind get focused, and its a great way to energetically open and close your session.
8. Prayer: My personal experience suggests that by opening creating sessions with a prayer (in addition to the stretching and breathing) you are attuning your body to its own creative energy and universal creative energy. In my case I use two specific methods a prayer/poem and a breathing/chanting exercise.