Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Desire and sacrifice

Acrylic 4 x 4

People often ask how I find time to produce the art that I do.  There's no magic trick to it, its all down to desire and sacrifice.  To do anything, art included, you have to want to succeed at it desperately and to ensure that it happens you have to sacrifice other things.

When I hear others say that they can't produce art because they (pick your choice) have children, have too much work, or don't have time, don't have the skill, it annoys me a little to be honest.  Yes, we all have commitments, but we free up time to do the things that are important to us and we eliminate other, less important things, to make sure we can achieve what we want.

Today I learned that I was successful in obtaining a grant to produce a body of work in gyotaku and deliver a workshop on the method.  It was one of my goals for 2010 in what I wanted to achieve this year.  Perhaps as I approach the half way point in the year, its time to revisit those goals and take stock of what's progressing and what isn't.

I have a full time job that teeters on 50-60 hours a week some weeks.  I have a life outside that job and I have my art.   So where do I put in the time to produce the work?  Evenings and weekends are my time and I push other things that I once considered important to the side to make sure I can produce the work that is necessary.  Yes, its all about me.  And its all about me because that's how it has to be if  I want something badly enough. 

Its worthwhile analyzing your average waking hours to understand just where time slips away that could be used for artistic purposes.  I'll share a sample of my day so you can get an idea of how my time is split.

  • 6:30 - 7:30   Get up, showered, dressed, coffee.  Then work for 15-30 minutes on current art project or research for new one
  • 7:45 - 8:15   Drive to work.   Listen to art marketing art or art history podcasts on the way. Sometimes stop to take photos of objects of views that interest me.
  • I  stop work for lunch at some point around mid day.  My schedule varies depending on workload as to time.  I often eat at my desk and catch up on blogs, facebook etc.  I sketch out ideas for projects, make phone calls related to art marketing or prepare brochures, write out tutorials, etc.
  • 6 - 7:30  This is my down time when I eat, relax, watch the news, but even then I usually have a pencil in hand jotting down ideas
  • 7:30 - 11  This is my time to completely concentrate on producing art, following up art marketing, sending emails, writing blog posts, etc. 
  • 11 - 12  I go to bed and sketch more ideas or sometimes just collapse and sleep

I don't have blocks of free time and that works for me.  I like the structure it imposes on me and the deadlines that I set for myself. I use time that I could waste on trivial things on things that move me closer to my goals.

This routine varies, depending on what else is happening in life, but its more the norm than the exception.  Social life fits in at weekends.  Work over rides social life, either the day job, art or teaching.  I don't have small children to contend with anymore but there are ways around that.  I have always found ways to fit in my drawing time, even when my children were small and I was a single parent.  Nursery school gave me a couple of hours in the mornings.  One hour to do chores, another to draw or paint. And each night when they went to bed, I hit the easel again til midnight. Yes, sure I was tired sometimes, but having my routine was important to me and ultimately to the children as it kept me sane.

My sacrifices?  I don't see them as sacrifices. I see them as manipulating my life to my advantage. And for that I do not feel guilty.  Women, especially mothers, are constantly in a pull/push situation of guilt.  I believe making time for yourself helps eliminate that guilt.  I love my children, but I have a life outside of them.

I rarely watch television, except for the news.  I use my time to concentrate on what I feel is important to me.  I don't allow myself to 'play' until I have reached a goal that I've set for myself, either in my head or on paper. Weekends allow me more time to draw or paint as there are less demands on my time.  I fit in housework and errands on weekends, laundry on week days and clear up as I go during the week.  I'm toying with the idea of a cleaner once a week to do the majors like vacuuming and washing floors.

Art is hard work.  Being successful in art is even harder work and it takes dedication, planning and the ability to not be easily distracted by less important things.  Its also about taking control of your life and not being swept along on a wave that is not of your own making. Its about knowing what you want and just going for it.

My way isn't for everyone.  We use a lot of excuses to not reach our dreams and then complain about not being able to reach the same dream.  Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection all play a part in staying in safe harbours and never risking the surf.  Its a matter of logically examining each excuse that you throw up and finding a way around it.  There always is a way, if you want to find it badly enough.

I've thrown my excuses out and choose to take some risks.  What about you?


Tina Eudora said...

Thanks for that inspiring post Jeanette. I am 59 and put off my dreams of an art career until last October. I allowed life and the expectations of others to sway me away from that dream and even now it is hard for me to tell people that I am not available to sit around and have coffee with them when they come to my door during the day. And then each night I am disappointed with myself for having put my desires last once again. Reading your post I felt strengthened in my belief that my dream is an important dream and deserves my whole heart, so tomorrow I am going to have the courage to tell my neighbors that I am not available to chat because I have important work to do! Thanks Jeanette

Billie Crain said...

Congrats on receiving the grant, Jeanette!:)

Jeanette said...

Tina, to do anything in life, there has to be a large degree of want and a larger degree of determination. If both of those are present, you can do anything.

Your art is important. Claim it. Its waiting for you.

Thanks Billie. I've got some planning to do now to put it into action.

Anita said...

Great post, Jeanette! Congrats on the grant.

Gayle said...

Congratulations on receiving the grant Jeanette, I'm sure it's a real achievement.
Great post.
I try to get all my household and dog walking tasks done first thing in the morning then the middle of the day is art time without needing to break off.
I return to art in the evening after more dog walking, cooking, eating etc
I use the first part of the day on marketing activities as that is what I tend to leave if I don't make myself do them.

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Great path to success you've laid out here, Jeanette.

Congratulations on receiving the grant. I hope we'll hear more about it later.

Ripples is wonderful.

travelingsuep said...

Thank you for sharing this Jeanette. I admire your dedication. Congrats on the grant, I hope it all goes well.

marancat said...

Congratulations on your grant - you deserve every bit of sucess that comes your way!

Teresa Mallen said...

Cogratulations on the grant - a well deserved accomplishment!!! Good reminder that June marks our 6th month into this year. Checking on our goals would be a great thing to do.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Anita.

Gayle, yes, there has to be a routine and discipline to get art done.

Thank you Elizabeth. Sometimes I am so driven to succeed and know so strongly what I want, it bubbles over.

Thanks Sue. I will need to do a little planning for the grant before I get stuck in. I'm looking forward to it.

Marancat, thanks so much.

Teresa, thank you. Yes, June is a good marker to see if things are on track.

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks for this post and your next one as well. You are an inspiration and we appreciate that you share knowledge and expertise with us. Congratulations on your hard work paying off!

Rhonda Bartoe Tucker said...

You kicked me in the pants and motivated me with the same post! Thank you.
P.S. Congrats on the grant! Well deserved!

tracywall said...

Ok, I'm a little late in catching up on my blog-reading, but so very well said here. I've told you many times how productive I thought you were. Thanks for helping other non-art folks realize that there is actually work involved.

And boy, I LOVE these ripples!