Freedom in Focus
Like any other full-time profession, artists are called to regularly review, refine, and revise. We put our hearts and souls into our work on and off the canvas. Often we love and want to practice multiple art forms and mediums. I celebrate this! But when it comes to running a business and having a family [insert XYZ commitments], it can be easy to overcommit and spread ourselves too thin.
This issue has been hounding me for a few months; I finally sat with it long enough to listen. [Hello, Christmas break.]
If you're an emerging artist, you understand the approach of TRYING ALL THE THINGS for a while to see what sticks. My mantra in 2022 was, "I'm still figuring out what I like and don't like to do." You develop your skills, take classes, and show up to the work. But too many tangents can scatter your energy and ideas.
Where energy goes is where growth and magic happen.
The Common Thread
Growing an art business requires many 'hats,' as I have previously mentioned. Combining all of the business tasks with an array of art practice areas can be too much. I was advised a little while ago that it's better to master, and hence become known for, one thing. Then it's reasonable to put forth a new thing or two.
If you're in my shoes, you're asking: what's behind door number 2?! I can't give up XYZ practices!
When you're creating multiple things, what do they have in common? Look for the common thread, the through-line. It may be an aesthetic, a color palette, a subject matter, a design element, or a particular style. Another option is to experiment with something new for a while before sharing it with the world.
Let's break this down.
Here is a brief inventory of creations this past year:
- Acrylic painting with mixed media
- Acrylic collage with handmade papers
- Watercolor mixed media
- Eco printing, including framed pieces
- One realistic painting of a cockatoo (sure was cute!)
- Foraging and creating wild ink
- Holiday offerings with mini paintings, ornaments, art stationery, and art calendars
- Commissioned paintings
If all of that weren't scattering my energy and resources, I wouldn't be writing this blog, would I?
Truthfully, I know I can't commit to doing just one thing. But I've never been that type of person--maybe that will change someday. Time and experience will offer more clarity.
One great question helped clarify my focus areas: What brings me the most joy and purpose, and how do I maximize that?
I found my common thread: connection to the earth and celebration of her in all her forms. My deepest joys are found outdoors. Every walk, run, hike, breath of fresh air, plant, and animal lifts my spirit. I follow her seasons as a prescription for life.
The New Year Ahead
As my practice continues to evolve with me, I committed to focusing my energy in these three areas this year, in order of priority:
- Acrylic painting (the only medium for commissions this year)
- Foraging, creating and painting with wild inks
- Eco printing
Each area has plenty of room for further mastery, each a deep well of experiential learning (no boredom here!). In fact, it dawned on me that I would love to paint outdoors and paint some of what I see (Plein air painting). All of that said, l am well aware it will mean I need to say "no" to other things that don't align with this vision for the year. Will it be hard? Yes, for me, it is. Is it worth the investment in an authentic art business? Indeed. Making room for more of what brings us joy and contentment is worth the thought for anyone.
Now it's your turn: in this new year, what are you saying no to in order to make room for your yes? Kindly share in the comments. I would love to hear from you.
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