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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Burning Question: Why Is it that I am Drawn to OTHER things?

From time to time I get asked questions about  living a creative life, art business, and tons of art technique questions, so I thought I'd share the questions posed occasionally so that everyone could chime in on the discussion or perhaps benefit from my insight.

Notice I didn't say answer.  There rarely is one right answer or truth that fits nice and neatly for everyone.  Even for technique related questions--heck, humidity, temperature, substrate,  and brand of supplies, can skew a technique related answer.  

The same holds true for insight around what to do, why or why not to do something around your creative path or art business. **Not that humidity effects your art biz..heeehee** but your individual circumstances and your ultimate goals effect your direction.  Your experience could effect the question and or answer.

So, with that said...take my advice as for what it's worth.  It's just my opinion based on my circumstance and experience, or my point of view as I see it today...and yes it could change tomorrow :)

Today's question is from a friend on Facebook  who posed this question/predicament to me:

'I often find in my road to mastery, being drawn into different directions which often results in using different mediums. I stop doing what I was doing and go on to that 'new' thing and may not get back to my original medium or path for say up to 2 years.'  Why is this so?  It makes it hard to master anything when this occurs.

My reply:

To me, it sounds like you are in the 'percolating' stage of your creative self. You are still finding what it is that you really like to do.  Is it Acrylics,  oils or watercolors that tempt your art'full self?  Perhaps you are drawn to the allure of encaustic painting or the textural effects of  of raw collage.  Are you drawn to the old papers found at a thrift store, knowing there will be a use for them down the road?  Do you pick up a journal and use it religiously for 2-3 months and then let it get dusty for a year or more?   Maybe you find pen and ink drawings exciting or a portrait painting a challenge but one that you want to take on.   In the quiet of winter do you cozy up with a knitting needle and go back to working on a blanket you started the year before?  Maybe it's the sale ad that came through your email this morning with a promise of 20% off if you order 100.00 or more of new art supplies that you find impossible to resist despite the fact you have a room full of stuff that has yet to be touched.

We all go through the percolating and distraction stage.  The stage where we hunt and gather information, supplies, and inspiration.  We want to do what others are doing, and doing better than we are (because we have yet to start).   Easily bored or uninspired, we move on to something else to capture our attention for the time being (and the time being could be years).  We pick things up, and we put them down, in a cycle of learning and exploring that is neither good nor bad, depending on what it is we are really looking to achieve.

At some point however,  YOU, WE,  need to decide, what it is that we really want to do and where is it that we want to go.  Based on those answers,  the next step is to pare down the distractions or limit those 'extra curricular activities'  to our 'filling the well' time if we want to go down the path of mastery of what's really important to you.

No supply on earth is going to be the one size fits all answer to making you a brilliant artist.  Having a 100 of those supplies will not make you the best at what you do. Granted, good supplies have lots of value and I'm not saying that certain supplies won't make your work better, but to believe it's the supply in itself that's the answer-would be a fallacy.

Being drawn to different types of techniques is totally normal and very much encouraged.  But you are right, it is hard to master a few when you are distracted a lot.    Perhaps you aren't ready to make a choice about your art and that's why you are easily drawn to other mediums.  If you are ready to make a choice, know that it doesn't mean you can't go back to something else here and there (or for long periods of time).

When I first started creating, collage was my favorite  medium.  And then it was journaling.  And then I knitted for a while.  I moved on to drawing.  Then water colors called me for a period of time, until I discovered acrylic paints...and at that point, I was hooked. I still do all of the things I love or loved  (well except for knitting) , but I decided when I became really serious about my craft, to zone in on acrylics.   I wanted and still want to discover all I can about the medium and stretch my limits as an artist using acrylic paint as my primary medium.  But I still want to do other things, too,  and I think when other mediums (or genres of art)  pop into my work for periods of time--they are there to serve a purpose.  They help me grow as an artist.

Really understanding why you do what you do and what your ultimate goals are as an artist (and an individual) is very important in this process as well. It's hard to know where you are going without some idea of where it is you want to go! :)   

Don't loose sleep over the fact you are in the percolating stage if in fact that is where you are.   Trust your instincts and you will know when it is to start specializing in whatever it is you want to do.  Listen to yourself  so you can hear when it is time to take a break and play with some other 'toys' or processes.  

If you are on the edge of the percolating stage and about to get off on the road to mastery, then very possibly's time to make a decision . Start drawing out a road map of how you are going to get there and stick to it.  Get excited about it and passionate about your process.  Be swayed by other things when it makes sense to, or supports your ultimate goals.

Or...maybe it's not time to make  a decision.

If you never master anything but are great at a lot of things, that's okay too.  If you are happy with the path you are on, that is all that matters.  Life is a journey and all parts of it should be enjoyed. If you aren't enjoying one part, the beauty of this life is that it's never too late change your direction. 

  Mastery does not equal success. Nor does success equal happiness. We all define each in our own way, and find our balance according to the beat of our individual drums.  Understanding our definition of mastery, success, and happiness should be perhaps a first stop on the road however.

Carry on my friends and have a fantastic weekend!

Do YOU have a burning question around the artistic life, art business, art techniques or topics you'd like to hear or learn more about?  Leave a comment here! I'd love to use them in upcoming posts!

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Sonja said...

I'm percolating over this masterful post of yours. It helped me immensely to not feel like such an art gypsy and reminded me to savor the journey. Thank you.

Sonja said...
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Maz said...

Jodi, thank you so much for this. That is exactly where I am, percolating. I just love trying out techniques I haven't done before and supplies that are new to me. I don't get anywhere near enough creative time at the moment, so until I have more I will be content to dabble....for now!

Mary said...

Jodi, Thank you for this well timed post. I've been saying for the past couple of years that I need to stop "percolating" and start focusing. But it is so hard. I've done some jewelry making and loved that, painting and loved that, I've always been a sewer and love it still,for many years I concentrated on art dolls and recently I discovered alcohol ink. As I'm writing this I just realized that one thing that keeps coming up in my painting is what I've learned to call pulled art, finding an image in a background and pulling it out. Three years ago my calculation was that I could live another 20 years and my thought was that I wanted to make the most of it and decide on a focus. Now, three years later, I'm still on the road of discovery. Maybe I need to resolve that I will always be "percolating" and enjoy the journey. You are an inspiration.

Win Dinn said...

A fabulous and insightful post - thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Giggles said...

Wow impressive post I am still percolating and I guess I should just honor that stage as part of the process!! Very insightful and inspiring post! Thank you and gorgeous art as always!!

Hugs Giggles