How Does Moving Affect Your Art?
In a recent newsletter (you can read it here), I described an impromptu art-making party in the temporary home of a friend who lost her house and studio in the Thomas Fire. Four of us gathered around a folding banquet table with borrowed chairs and tote bags full of art supplies to cast a creative spell, and inaugurate the space that will be Didi’s art studio.
Making Art in Unfamiliar Spaces
How does one get back to art-making after the upheaval of a move? When the layout of the art room, and storage of supplies is opposite from your familiars? When is the best time to create if daylight illuminates the room from an unfamiliar angle? How do artists find their “making-zone” when the ambient sounds and sense of “place” feel foreign? Moving is disruptive to creativity if your studio is in your home. So where do we begin again?
Tips to Get Back in the Art Making Groove
I moved twice since becoming a full time artist, and I wasn’t prepared for the disruption. I only realized after the move how comfortable and inviting the well-worn path to my previous work table was.
Can you recall a first morning in a new home, standing in an unfamiliar kitchen, planning to make a cup of coffee, but you have no idea where the filters are? And did anyone unpack the mugs? Is the stove connected? By the time you get to the third unknown, you throw in the towel and go to Starbucks. If you haven’t spent deliberate, focused time getting acquainted with a new studio or creative space, you might feel just as discouraged from making things.
Steer the Car
Creating in a new space requires a little forced time at the art-table. The muscle memory of where your supplies live, the best light during the day, and where you sit or stand to work has to be established – even when it feels outside your comfort zone. Like reaching for a light switch on the wrong wall because you previously had a light switch on the other side – your limbs and brain have to synchronize to your new layout.
Make it your Secret Garden
Help that process by spending time in that space (or that chair, or that corner of the dining room), even if you’re only drinking tea and reading art books. Begin lining your little art-nest with quiet time, spent in pleasantries. Train your body and brain to crave that area for decompression and respite. Art-making is your haven, right? Make the space appealing, choose a comfortable chair, add a good light and keep it organized and neat so you can get to work when the urge arises.
Wrap it in Accountability
If your new space hasn’t been broken in yet – all your time there could be an exercise in search & rescue to find where everything got stored. Those hiccups will prohibit deep creating. If you’ve already tried forcing yourself to work, and it just didn’t flow, how about hosting an art session (or two) with a handful of like minded friends? Knowing others are coming over to make things forces 1) a little clean up and organization 2) a set schedule reserved for art-making 3) an opportunity for “group-think” on the layout of your space, storage of supplies, best use of surface area. Sometimes, we’re too close to the problem to think clearly, and outside suggestions can pull the curtains back and let the sunshine in. ☀
Mind Your Elbows
Your work surface is the most important part of your creative space. Guard it from clutter, ensure that it’s at the right height and angle for your most comfortable arm positions and head/neck angle. Arrange a strong light next to it for after-hours creating, and gather your favorite and most used supplies nearby so you don’t have to leave your spot to grab them.
Coddle Your Creative Urges
Creativity is a delicate character. She’s thin skinned, prone to doubts, easily interrupted, fickle in her comings and goings, and she’s perpetually distracted. A move is disruptive on so many levels, and it can scare creativity into a locked cupboard for weeks. Lure her to you with determination, a cozy, inviting space, organization of your making-supplies, good company in the form of fellow artists and art-dates, and a sing-songy, encouraging mantra that the two of you have Got This. You really do. Get set up, and march with conviction – holding creativity in tow – to your space, and make something.
Loosen Up with Bob Burridge
Years ago, I took an art marketing workshop from Bob Burridge, and it made me a lifer – a fan of his work, his approach and his easy-going and kind character. He’s generous with tips and encouragement through his video series called Bob Blasts, and this one about loosening up is appropriate to this post. If you’ve moved and you’re stuck, follow Bob’s lead. In this brief video, he’s painting a whole series of landscapes with wadded up paper towels and his fingernails. (!!!) And the results are wonderful! Thanks for the encouragement, Bob! You Rock!
Be of Good Use
What are your tips and tricks to get back into art after a move? How do you saddle your art-making horse and ride her after a loooong dry spell? Don’t be shy: your approach might help a fellow artist bust through a period of creative block, whether its from moving, or a life-pivot, or a careless comment about skills. Share your sound advice in the comments. We all work better when we do it together.
Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post,
The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.