Consuming Social Media, or Creating Art

Watercolor still life water and roses with a glass pitcher

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Consuming Social Media, or Creating Art

I’ve been thinking about the tug-of-war between consuming social media and creating art. The come-hither glow of visual stimulation in social media, and the resulting deflation as a result of comparison is worth a personal survey. Reaching for a screen is Soooo Easy. But is it good for the artist in us?

Scrolling through FB or Instagram or YouTube (or all of them in the same sitting), is such a passive action of consumption – it’s akin to eating a whole plate of frosted cupcakes. The only output is the effort to swipe a finger down the screen.

Create vs Consume

Ask yourself how you feel after reaching for a screen to click, drag, and consume social media content for an hour, versus making an hour of art?

Laying out art supplies, locating source material, and staying conscious of your time slot might feel like obstacles to getting started. It depends on how you define creative prep-time (I see it as “pre-motor-planning”). I like to rev myself up with internal encouragement while getting water and brushes and paper ready.

Ultimately, commencing to create something is a form of expression, release, productivity or output. Hence the encouraging phrase ‘Create instead of Consume’.

Passive or Active Days?

To create is an active endeavor, physically and mentally. Inside, we are in a state of ACTION. Optical nerves are Color Mixing. Memories and Life Experiences are Expressed. Cognitive fires are strategically mark-making.

On the outside, hands are moving, pigments are mingling on surfaces, and shapes are emerging.

There is a potent connection occurring between the tip of your instrument (pencil, pen, brush) and your brain. (Read this for more on the affects of art on your brain.)

Make Art = Feel Good

Make art to ensure that the end of your day feels great. You MADE SOMETHING.

There is a newly born object on the table the next morning as a testimony to the choices you made the night before. You can pick it up in your hands and wonder at the results of your simple ingredients: time, supplies, creativity and intent.

New art is a very real confetti-strewn Attaboy, regardless of our perceived critique of the finished product.

Don’t Overthink

We have the opportunity to be energized by the drive to create something. Open a gateway urged by the need to express – wordlessly, quietly, using pen, pencil, brush, and pigments.

I love simplifying this process into it’s distilled essence. We are compelled to share a vision of what we saw, what we thought, what we experienced, in paint graphite or ink, etc. It’s our nature to complicate that with judgement, fear of failure, uncertainty about skill, and an assortment of perceived restrictions. We’re good at stacking those blockades, but I think all of them are just self sabotage.

Polite Expressing

Turning your spigot on to gush open with art time. Sitting with your art supplies transforms a chair & table into a Sacred Space. Creating is akin to having a good cry, screaming into a pillow, or sprinting across the lawn naked while yelling profanities.

But it’s a quiet, polite, gentile version of those releases. And you get a piece of art afterwards, like a reward cookie.

Keep It Simple

The distractive shimmer and algorithmic allure of social media might impact a moment, but making something with your hands – even a set of 4X5 index cards of wet into wet colorful pigment tests will last longer than we will.

watercolor test swatches for wet in wet painting experiments

Drive Your Own Car

It’s worth pondering that the way we use (or neglect) our creative time is entirely up to us. We are driving that car. The controls on the dashboard and the maps in the glove compartment are all of our own design.

We get to choose. You get to choose.

Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post –


P.S. There is a Free Artist Seminar in February on Creativity and Marketing hosted by Bold Brush founder Clint Watson and figurative painter Arthur Gain. See more about it here.

Art Quote

Choice of attention — to attend to this and ignore that — is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences.

W. H. Auden

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11 thoughts on “Consuming Social Media, or Creating Art”

  1. Hello 🙂
    I just found your beautiful and interesting blog today after deleting all my social media a few months ago and today downloading an rss reader app. So this was a really pertinent post to read today.

    I was getting a few blogs delivered via email which felt clumsy and then it clicked that I just prefer reading blogs to looking at social media. I like to hear what people have to say and take time to think about their art and not just flick past it.
    The blogs I was reading stayed with me and influenced my next painting session whereas that rarely happened on Instagram.

    This feels more like I’m visiting your space than how Instagram and the like feels like I’m visiting it and not the artists space. The presence on social media is somehow itself not the person’s work: it’s a bombastic chaotic place.

    So I’m going to make my own blog just to document my art journey and go back to reading them and interacting with people on them.

  2. Dear Belinda,

    Thankyou so much for this very wise email.
    I always love reading your thoughts and instruction too.
    I don’t like social media, but I do look a lot at the internet for instruction and demonstration, without enough doing of it!

  3. Thank you for this thought-provoking article, Belinda. I agree with Constance that it can be a great learning tool but there’s definitely a battle to be fought with what you call “the algorithmic allure”.

    1. Hi Nigel, it’s always good to hear from you. And I’m shoulder to shoulder with you on fighting the battle for balance between inspiration from social media, and time-lost on social media.

  4. This was is a wonderful post Belinda and really made me stop and question how I’m spending my valuable time.
    Thank you!


  5. There’s this underlying notion that if you’re a writer or artist you have to have a big social media presence. I don’t like social media but I do use it to follow other artists and writers and glean ideas. Thanks to finding your site, I’m trying something new in my printmaking – Collagraphy. I’ve also tried drypoint on plastic. Thank you for the great tutorials. I use social media to find printmakers and their websites, learn something new, and end up happy with the resulting art. So as a learn and grow tool, it’s great. Oh, and I limit social media to 10 minutes a day. My art is more important!

    1. Good for you, Constance. Yes, the glimpse into other artist’s studio’s, and their process (when shared) is excellent inspiration, but I wonder sometimes if I’d be more inspired to just hunker down and work on my own stuff? AT the very least, Id have something to show at the end of the time slot, and that’s worth something.

  6. Mickey Nolan

    👏. I couldn’t agree more, Belinda. Art is essential. It’s the most restorative activity I know of. It gives us a place where we can forget what’s going on around us and lose ourselves playing with beautiful colors. I can’t wait to enter my creative zone and am always reluctant to leave. My day doesn’t feel complete if it doesn’t include that peaceful interlude. Besides, it’s so much more fun than looking at a screen.

  7. Thank you Belinda, this is all true. My art supplies have been packed away for 3 weeks now, as I have been trying to sell my house, with the aim of moving to somewhere I can have a work room (studio still feels too grand). Hopefully, progress is being made….but I miss creating stuff and need to sneak some materials out to work on….maybe just assemble a collagraph plate, so no ink or paint involved….onwards and upwards!

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