This is a guest post by Michele Theberge from www.themindfulartist.com
One of the most common problems artists express to me is:
“There’s not enough time to make art!”
One of the ways I have carved out more time in my life for art is to eliminate distractions.
Nine years ago, when I was an artist-in-residence at the Morris Graves Foundation, I spent eleven days in a remote and isolated setting. It was structured so the artist had no contact with the outside world: no telephone, newspapers, radio, Internet or TV, and no other artists or visitors of any kind. Nothing to distract me from my thoughts and my work.
For many people this would be torturous, but I found it heavenly. By spending time alone with my thoughts, I was able to observe which thoughts were productive and which were counterproductive.
This is something my meditation practice has taught me. When we are present with our thoughts, they lose some of their power over us.
By noticing and not fighting the counterproductive thoughts, I was able to stay in the present moment and keep focused on the work, I was not only able to accomplish a lot, but to work through difficult moments in the work.
Each evening I sat in a cozy armchair by a window over looking the lake and wrote in my journal. I spent this time musing on my day in the studio—what was working, what wasn’t and where to take the work next.
I was able to make time for reflection—something that at home I had never considered a priority.
When I came home, the contrast hit me. I realized that just by moving through my home it was quite easy to lose focus. Each room provided fresh distractions. I would sit down in the living room to rest and idly start reading a magazine. This distraction is not bad in itself, but multiply it by twenty such incidents and my mind zigzags all over like a hummingbird zipping from flower to flower.
Keeping books and magazines piled in every room is like keeping snacks in every corner of the house and indulging even when I am not hungry. This distraction functions as a form of mind-clutter for me.
I must be discriminating about what I choose to put in my mind. I must carefully select which lectures to attend or films to see which books to read. I have learned the hard way that I cannot read every newspaper, support every cause, read every cool blog nor attend every art opening (even of my most beloved artist friends!). I cannot even cultivate or maintain friendships with all the people I enjoy! I have decided I must root out what is not essential. The best filter is my gut. Is this something I would really love to do? An article I feel really drawn to read?
I have found I need to have enough experience to stimulate but not too much to over-stimulate.
I know each artist has her own balance point with outside stimulation. What’s yours? Please share your experience in the comments below.
People fall in love with the quiet, ephemeral quality of Michele Théberge’s drawings, paintings and installations constructed from delicate and light materials such as paper, paint, fabric, mylar, foil and pins. Collected internationally, her work has been exhibited in New York, Osaka, London, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Miami and the United Arab Emirates. www.micheletheberge.com
As a recognized expert in acrylic painting materials and methods, Michele travels the U.S. and Canada inspiring thousands of artists from beginners to established professionals with the latest techniques and materials. Her popular online Mindful Artist Mentorship Program teaches up-and-coming artists how to tap into their creativity at a deeper level, and move into the realm of professional artist. More experienced artists appreciate Michele’s gifts for helping them stay accountable, focused and effective in their studio practice and career.
To learn more about The Mindful Artist Mentorship Program, you can download a free audio recording of a recent class Michele taught on Connecting With Your Deeper Wisdom to Overcome 3 Common Obstacles as a Professional Artist.
In the recording you’ll learn:
- Why it can be so hard to get in the studio and what to do about it.
- FEAR – What no artist likes to admit to but nearly every artist has.
- How to Shore Up A Rickety Foundation with 4 Key Pillars to Success
As well as a handout with some specific action steps so you can get started today.
(Michele Theberge retains the copyright to all the images in this post.)
Note from Dan: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to register for Michele’s Mindful Artist Mentorship Program after following these links, I will receive a commission payment, which helps me keep this site running. If you’re uncomfortable with that kind of thing, that’s fine, no hard feelings. If you do sign up through my affiliate links, then thank you, I really appreciate your support!