Returning to the Studio

In the last Art Marketing Action newsletter, I said “Get It Out There.” Get your work out for everyone to see. As if to verify that you must, indeed, have multiple personalities to run a successful art career, today I tell you to “Return to The Studio.” Yep, you have to have a good deal of left-brain activity for the business side of your art, but you can’t neglect the right brain. It’s the reason for your existence.

I dare say that the number one frustration I hear among artists is that they can’t do it all. Moreover, many think they have some sort of entitlement. That being an artist exempts them from the mundane business tasks required of everyone else. I know that’s not you. You wouldn’t be reading this if that were you. Or perhaps it is. Perhaps you’re not yet a convert. In that case, I hope you’ll come back again and again. I’d like to have the chance to convince you of this dual role required of you.

What I want to ask today is this: When you want to get over a slump . . . When you want to take The Big Leap with your art . . . When you are bored and want to experiment . . . What do you do in the studio?

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12 comments to Returning to the Studio

  • Alyson, Thank you so much for your newsletter about getting back into the studio! It’s interesting how many professional artists (myself included) have talked about how difficult it can be to get into the studio, with all of the business tasks looming. Thanks.

  • Your timing is uncanny! This week has been designated a ‘studio’ week. Instead of bouncing around between studio, computer, paperwork I made the decision to dedicate the week to painting. Everyday. No matter what. (well, unless the January excuse for daylight doesn’t exist on a particular day) I’m doing this because I’ve moved into a new space that is more difficult to work in so I’m forcing myself to find routine. And I can say I’m enjoying it! It’s been a long time since I just rummaged through old canvases and took them apart to ‘create’ new little paintings or re-gesso, scrubbed palette leftovers on small canvases as playthings at the end of the day, and just pondered things outside the current series of work. I’m now also closer to my marketing and paperwork so can take small 5-10 minute breaks between layers and make a call, type an email, or upload new photos. Strangely in my few days of concentrating just on painting I’ve also done more ‘business’ work than usual at the same time.

  • Hello from another Alison! I paint African wildlife in watercolor and spent nearly nine years living in the southern African countries of Botswana and Zimbabwe. Since moving to New York in 2002 I have been painting wildlife art full time. I find many useful ideas and comments through your website and wanted to let you know how I make sure I spend enough time in the studio. I allocate one full day a week to marketing. This means that on Fridays I can spend a full day on marketing without feeling guilty about not being in my studio. It works for me, hope it helps someone else! Alison

  • I’ve started a new habit to try and get out in my studio every afternoon, whether I feel like painting or not as long as I go out there and do a little bit each day. It makes a big different to my painting as it feels more continuous, rather than stopping and starting all the time, it feels like I am growing at a quicker rate and have more time to experiment and continue with ideas. That, and I paint quicker now too.

  • I used to have an outside studio. I didn’t paint as much as I wanted because I had to make the time to go there. So I moved it into my dining room. We never used it before. I put in a cute large table, and two armoirs to hide everything if I have to. I paint at least 5 days a week now. I follow a schedule too. Return emails. Make a list of things to do. Paint from 8:00-12:00 Pack art for shipping, then I’m free around 2:00 or 3:00. Debi

  • Amazing timing with this entry! I’ve been attempting to invest at least 3 hours every day in the studio. There’s a big home show whose date is looming heavily, and it can be a trick to invest ample time to creativity without burning out. I have been pushing myself and putting in more than those three hours every day. When I start to notice that burn-point and I start to hit a brick wall in creativity, I stop everything. I load the ten essentials into my daypack, and I go find a trail. A good hike loosens me up and replenishes that inspiration so that I can get back into the studio all refreshed and get back to work.

  • Alyson, you mentioned in your newsletter article something about rituals surrounding making art. In a video I watched this weekend, there was a shot of Dale Chihuly in his bathtub. He needs to be in or around water to feed his muse. I would be interested in hearing about rituals that other artists use to help them be/feel creative.

  • Sunni Mercer

    Hey Alyson, perfect article for the after holidays slump! I know myself well enough to know that I will tend to the urgent and overlook the important every time. My mantra,” get in over your head!” I try every year to get involved in an exhibit where my deadline for delivery lands near the end of January. By doing this I inhibit myself from getting into the inertia of studio procrastination – drives me nuts but works every time! Would love to chat more, but gotta get to the studio!

  • Tracy

    This is something I’ve really been working on — more time in production. You can spend all the time in the world with creative marketing ideas and foolproof organizational strategies, but if there’s nothing new to market or organize……. Not only is the creating part the reason WHY I do this, it just makes me feel so much better. I have a skip to my step, I smile more, I work harder on the days I can spend time in the studio!

  • Like many others I schedule my time carefully to allow time for blogging, reading and responding to emails, and studio time. I also allocate time on different days of the week to work exclusively on marketing, organization, looking for opportunities, processing applications and learning new things. I find if I allocate time each day for those things I can focus on them when I need to and paint the rest of the time. To get out of a schlump I draw mostly, sketching, watercolors, trying new poses out – I find before long I have learnt new things and have all new inspirations coming in. there is something very freeing about drawing for the fun of it.

  • I have two sure fire ways to jump start my brain & get myself out of a slump. 1. Take the phone off the hook, turn on some music, pull out my sketchbook & a photo for inspiration, and go to town. There’s something about drawing that puts you in a “zone.” Free up your mind. Erases the self doubt. I had heard this from several other artists, but never believed it until I took drawing lessons. It’s true! 2. Go to the local Buffalo Bill Historical Center (any art gallery or art museum will do)& get lost in one of its art galleries. Go slowly. Spend time studying a favorite piece – or find a new favorite piece & ask myself what draws me to this particular artwork. Whatever the fascination is, it will typically be something I try to emulate in my own work. There is something about discovering something I love in someone else’s work, and realizing that there is something similar in my own work that validates the technique, color, or concept for me. One of these two approaches works for me every time. But, I have one more approach. JUST DO IT. Start to paint. Or draw. Or sew. Whatever it is that begins your creative process. Don’t overanalyze or think ahead. If you do, you are lost. Just let happen what wants to. If you are open to possibilities, the muses will usually vist. Deb

  • I schedule specific studio time…if the weather is decent then I work in my outdoor studio..if not I work indoors. Having time devoted to art makes it a top priority and that has had great results for me: my work is growing in quantity as well as quality.I agree with the others…just do it!Thanks Alyson for reminding us how important it is to Leap..over those ruts… and Grow!