One of the guiding principles in my life is finding balance. I'm not even sure that balance is the right word, because there are times where certain things have to be front and center while other things are put on the back burner, but overall I want to live a holistic life in which each of the important parts of life are given a share that is adequate for them.
It's hard to sum up exactly, but for me, it means a life in which I work well, pursue my passions with joy and thoughtfulness, cultivate loving and compassionate relationships, eat and move in a way that promotes mental and physical wellness, and approach problems with integrity and creativity.
Lately I've had some deadlines and goals to accomplish so I have been putting in a lot of hours painting. I wouldn't have even thought I was capable of putting in so many hours a day focused on painting, but it was a nice surprise to learn that I could. The last 10 days were particularly crammed. I was trying to finish several paintings in time for a deadline. I painted with such focus that I didn't even notice the tree outside the window I paint by had bloomed!
Yesterday I finally had time to reinstate my morning walk, and it was like coming out of a stupor. It was shocking that I could be surrounded by so much beauty and not have seen it for so many days. In some ways those days are lost because they didn't have that element to them, but it was a necessary sacrifice. I really didn't have any of that time to spare, and worked right up until the deadline, but it was a good reminder of how easy it can be to lose sight of important elements of our life. What do you consider to be the important elements in your life? Do you have any strategies for finding balance?
Nashville based singer-songwriter, Van Darien, and I teamed up this week to bring a combine concert and painting demo to Instagram live. This was the first in a new series of Instagram Live and IGTV videos that I am doing. I'm currently working on the new line up starting with Mallory Eagle on the April 12. (I'll be posting more on that soon.)
There are a lot of things in the works around here, so if you want to make sure that you don't miss anything follow me on instagram and sign up for the newsletter. (I promise I won't send you tons of email or share your information with anyone.)
This commission was a great way to stretch myself and try something totally out of the ordinary for me. It was a good exercise in observation as I had never looked really closely at a crab. They are quite complex creatures, and working on this painting really brought that front and center for me and was a nice way to gain some appreciation for an animal I had previously not paid a lot of attention to. What is an animal that you were surprised about when you learned more about it?
This painting is going to a beach house near Fairhope, Alabama.
Over the years I've discovered that the way I set up my creating space is really important. I'd love to say that I can just create anytime, anywhere, but the fact of the matter is I am just far more productive if I set up my studio space in the right way. I've experimented a lot to find what works for me. I know, for example, if I try to hide all my primary art-making supplies out of sight it will create a barrier to my ability to just sit down and paint, which can hinder painting if I'm in a time crunch. I also don't like to feel too crowded, or to feel that things are too cluttered. I used to love to have all the things I found beautiful around me, but I discovered that it actually makes my brain feel cluttered and distracted, which affects my productivity and planning.
If you are a creative person, make sure you get to know yourself. Pay attention to what you use as excuses and when you feel the most creative and productive. No need to judge yourself, just be curious. Then work with your strength and not against your weaknesses. I don't know why it took me so long to figure that out, but following this strategy has helped me a lot. Now when I am developing goals, new systems, schedules, etc. I always ask myself, "Am I working with my strengths or against my weaknesses." If it is the later I make a different plan, or if another plan is not an option I can plan strategies to help with my weak areas.
I recently moved, and this above photos is my new studio space. I teach online as well so the space needed to be able to accommodate an easy transition between teaching and painting. I accomplished this with my rolling table that doubles as a place for my palette, computer, and brushes when painting; and can then be rotated to the front to serve as a desk. In this position my painting becomes a backdrop. I love the big windows and there is a wood burning stove in the room as well. I'm really pleased with the set up, and have found it to be a productive space. What strategies do you use in your work space(s)?
Below are a few of my past studio spaces, and if you need some inspiration for yourself check out this post.