Art and Life Choices: Finding Your Space as an Artist
I’ve always made physical space for my art. It all began in high school when I set up a drafting table and easel in my bedroom after we moved to Long Island. During my college years, I made art wherever I could find space, even on my roommates! (A big shout-out to my roommate Robin, who let me create a full body cast of her for a project – thanks, Robin!)
As a senior in university, we were granted studio spaces to develop our projects. And when I got my first job and moved to Cape Cod, my studio occupied the living and kitchen areas of my one-bedroom apartment. (The smell of linseed oil paired really well with my dinner…)
When I relocated to Dubai in 2007, three of my seven pieces of luggage were filled with art supplies and books. I didn’t know what would be available there at the time (resources were limited then, but now you can find everything you need!).
I even chose the Dubai job over a position outside of Boston because I knew it would grant me more time to dedicate to my art.
I haven’t always done a great job of utilizing the space, but having it in my life has been tremendous. It serves as a constant visual reminder and commitment that art is an integral part of my life and deserves a physical presence.
Have you ever considered how your life might change if your decisions prioritized your identity as an artist?
What if making time and space for your art held significant weight in your major life choices?
Recently, I had a conversation with an incredible member of our community who has carved out space in her home for her art and dedicates time to it. However, she still struggles to give it the mental space it deserves.
Having a studio space is just the first step in our commitment to our art. We need to cultivate and reserve mental space for our studio as well. While our art already occupies a space in our hearts, convincing our minds can be a challenge. We carry programming from childhood, cultural norms, and more. In my experience, this struggle has never vanished; instead, I’ve come to understand it as an integral part of my creative process.
At present, I’m exploring two distinct bodies of work. One is a portrait series of women, and the other delves into my relationship with motherhood. While I’m excited about these projects, I’ve also faced a slew of rejections since moving to Texas. The sheer quantity and consistency of these rejections have felt like the opposite of a warm welcome.
Despite knowing how vital my work is to me and that I’ll eventually find suitable venues for it, I’m sure these rejections have affected my confidence and led me to show up less for my art.
I’m fortunate that I’ve done enough work to recognize that my art remains essential. A decade ago, I might have given up. Nevertheless, deep down, I know that even if I never displayed or sold another piece, I would still create art.
That doesn’t change the fact that last week I was looking at my studio table, all set up ready for me to draw, with no distractions (cough cough 3 year olds) and I had to drag my derriere in there to get started.
Recently, out of nowhere, I received two commissions. I accepted them because I knew those deadlines would push me back into the studio. It was a reminder that art holds immense value in my life, and I’ve managed to sustain my creative momentum since completing those works. It’s become easier to convince myself to show up for my art.
Getting started always seems the hardest part.
Today’s post might not be one of my more polished ones, complete with a top three tips list. However, I hope it reflects the messy nature of creativity and encourages us to contemplate both the physical and mental studios we need to create our art. How do our choices align with our creative interests? Where could they align more with our art?
May we all cultivate the studio spaces we need to thrive.
If today’s conversation resonates with you, I’d love for you to comment below and share your thoughts. Then, hop over to my calendar and sign up for a chat with me this week. I’m conducting research to better understand the challenges faced by creatives and am eager to create something that truly helps us overcome these obstacles.
Join me for a 15-minute, no-sales chat to help shape the future of our creative community. Choose a time below and speak with you soon.