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What is Artist’s block?

This week I am struggling once again with artist’s block, and also writer’s block, so I am posting an older post about artist’s block for now. Meanwhile, I am going to be researching articles of interest to try and come up with new blogging ideas. I’m also including some paintings I have been re-working, in spite of the artist’s block. I am finding it helpful to re-paint and critique old works that I wasn’t really happy with. This week’s offering is a collection of Lincoln oil portraits I have painted a few years ago. Here is the older blog post I mentioned.

Last week I wrote about my struggles with artist’s block and I identified two specific types of artist’s block that were keeping me from producing artwork, and they are 1.) a mental block and 2.) an emotional barrier. Both of these symptoms seem to culminate in negative self-talk that makes me afraid to put pencil to paper. In spite of these things, I have been soldiering on. How about you? Did these types of artist’s block relate to you, or maybe you might be dealing with different types of artist’s block, such as work habits that don’t work for you, or personal issues, or a shortage of time, money, or resources, or feeling overscheduled? These types of artist’s block were discussed in the article: Seven Types of Artist’s Block and What to Do about Them by Mark McGuiness. Here is the website if you want to read more about the article:  http://99u.com/articles/7088/7-types-of-creative-block-and-what-to-do-about-them.

This week my main difficulties with artist’s block have been feeling overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions, and my work habits and time management, which are keeping me from being able to consistently produce art. Now that I have made the transition from a hobby artist to a professional artist, there are many more demands on my time than there was when I was just painting for fun. Now there are a myriad of tasks that I need to complete to keep my art business organized (such as taking inventory of my works, so that I know what is available and what has been sold), marketing my artwork and sharing my art show events with others via Facebook, personal emails or Instagram, and keeping my website updated with blog posts to keep people coming back to the site, just to name a few.

The ante has really been upped this past month because I have signed up for more art events, which is a good thing because it opens up the door for more sales and personal connections with clients and patrons, but it also means that my administrative tasks increase exponentially. To cope with the added stress, I have been trying to incorporate self-care into my schedule again, whether it’s taking time to journal, go for a walk, going to my favorite coffee shop, coloring in my coloring books, or just taking a long drive to get away from it all. A little anxiety is a good thing because it motivates me to work, but too much anxiety can make me feel paralyzed and unable to work. And as for feeling overwhelmed, I have been making lists of the most pressing tasks with the soonest deadlines to prioritize my to-do list, so I am not running in too many different directions.

The second aspect to my artist block is dealing with my time management skills and avoiding distractions which can keep me away from making art. Distractions can come in many forms, whether it’s social media, email checking, etc. And I might justify this by saying that it is for my business, and it might well be, say a Facebook post to advertise my upcoming art show at Art Pops! Everedy Square. However, I am learning I need to limit my time on the computer, both for administrative tasks such as data entry for inventory of my artwork, or conducting marketing campaigns on Facebook or Instagram.  I also am a person who lacks structure and discipline, so I have to create an outside structure for myself by creating deadlines for myself, writing to-do lists, writing due dates on the calendar and setting my kitchen timer for what I like to call pomodoros.

These pomodoros are 25-minute increments in which I focus on only one task, whether it’s working on a drawing to post for Instagram for my 100 faces in 100 days drawing challenge or updating my Art of Schmidt web site. Sometimes to maintain my focus, I also need to turn off my phone and not answer emails. Afterward, I take 5-minute breaks to re-group. To learn more about the Pomodoro technique, visit the following website: https://www.focusboosterapp.com/the-pomodoro-technique.    If I don’t apply discipline and self-control to my routine, I get really behind in my projects, especially since there is no one who will keep me accountable for these tasks but myself.  The insecurity and negative chatter I mentioned in my post last week can really make me want to distract and procrastinate on getting into the studio. I am trying to be more gentle with myself and allow the art to unfold

Abraham Lincoln 3, flat
Abraham Lincoln in purple, oil on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, 2017, Jodie Schmidt.
Abe Lincoln, portrait in green-re-worked, flat
Abraham Lincoln in purple, re-worked, oil on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, Jodie Schmidt, 2018. This is the re-worked version of the above painting that I completed last week. I changed the color scheme from purples and blues to greens, blues, and blue-greens. I also added more paint and texture to the facial planes to create dimension and impasto strokes of thick paint. I’m happier with this more colorful result, and I hope to create more paintings of Lincoln with this more painterly approach. I used a painting demonstration book called, Classic Portrait Painting in Oils, by Chris Saper, as inspiration about how to create a light source and for color schemes. 
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This is a quote from Sylvia Plath, found online in a Google search, no copyright infringement intended.

as it will see it as part of a process of learning for me, and not an ultimate destination.

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Where did All My Time Go?

I just got back from a much-needed vacation to Cape May, New Jersey, last week to celebrate my ten year anniversary. I had a wonderful, relaxing time and got a chance to just be, enjoying sunsets, walking around the town of Cape May and drinking in the beautiful Victorian architecture, listening to the reassuring rhythm of crashing waves, tasting great food, and reconnecting with my man. But when I got back from the trip, I had a major reality check. Several tasks awaited my attention, such as: scheduling a doctor’s appointment, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, dishes, vacuuming, putting all my things away and preparing for two upcoming art shows to name a few. I felt overwhelmed just thinking about it, and my to-do list seemed endless. In addition, I had fallen behind in several areas of my art business prior to my vacation: such as an inventory of paintings and sketches, producing new art, bookkeeping, blogging, and following up on sales leads.

It was quite an adjustment to go from four days of unstructured vacation days to a more regimented schedule. During this time, I didn’t have to clean cook or do anything much, unless I wanted to plan an outing or decide where I wanted to have lunch or dinner, while I was a guest at the Angel of the Sea Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey. I highly recommend this Bed and Breakfast if you need a relaxing getaway and you like historic towns. Now, I am trying to figure out how to catch up on things for my art business, without feeling overwhelmed. Enter an article I read this week entitled, Control Your Time and Become a More Successful Artist, by Jason Horejs, October 11, 2017, http://reddotblog.com. It seems that someone frequently writes a blog post about a subject that is meaningful to me just when I need it most. Thank you, Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Art Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona!

Like me, Jason has been struggling with time management and organizing the many hats that we as entrepreneurs wear as small business owners, such as following up on sales leads, answering emails, bookkeeping, marketing, etc, (Horejs, 2017). But unlike me, he is a gallery owner and doesn’t produce artwork; he markets other artists and runs a gallery to help promote the artwork of other artists. I, on the other hand, am an artist and business owner, but we seem to be following similar tracks in our lives.And in the words of Jason Horejs (2017),

the list was “simply too high, and “I felt I was falling behind in accomplishing everything I wanted to get done.” In Horejs’s article, Control Your Time and Become a More Successful Artist, (2017) he shares how in the midst of an overwhelming to-do list, he found some time management tools that have been helpful in clarifying his priorities and getting things done (Horejs, 2017). One of the tools he mentions is an Ideal Week template, which is based on a model created by Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers (Horejs, 2017).

In the Ideal Week Template, Jason Horejs blocks out his day in segments of time to define what tasks are most pressing and how much time he plans to spend on them (Horejs, 2017). Michael Hyatt offers a downloadable spreadsheet on his blog, which can be customized to fit your schedule (Horejs, 2017). According to Horejs, this method of blocking out his time in segments has been helpful in prioritizing the most important tasks. In addition, Hyatt suggests that it is helpful to begin your day with “your long-term priorities,” instead of daily busy work (Horejs, 2017). After reading this article, I am realizing that most of my time is spent on day to day tasks such as cataloging art inventory, marketing my art projects and art shows on Instagram and Facebook, following up sales leads, blogging or researching articles about art business which could make good blog topics, maintaining my artist website, etc.

And while these tasks are important for running a successful art business, I am realizing that very little time has gone into working on new artwork. And as an artist, making artwork is what I would like to spend most of my time doing. However, the only art practice I have been somewhat consistent with has been drawing portraits for my 100 Faces in 100 Days Drawing Challenge, which I started back in June of this year. I still have 5 more drawings to complete to achieve the 100 portraits drawing challenge goal. I want to take some time in the coming week to block out my ideal week and see where I can block in time to work on my drawings and paintings, preferably in the morning before other things intrude or my energy wanes. I will let you know how it goes and post the artwork that I plan to create. Meanwhile, here are some vacation pictures that my husband took with his Nikon D40 camera. If you are interested in downloading the Ideal template, here is the pdf file,https://michaelhyatt.com/myresources/my-ideal-week.pdf. Thanks for stopping by! my-ideal-week

 

Blog

How to Make Time for Art

This week I would like to talk about one of my greatest struggles, and that is, making time to create art. It probably seems ironic for me to say that since I think of myself as an artist and I make art for art shows, clients, and I studied art in college. However, sometimes the things I want to do the most, such as painting and drawing, seem to be the most, difficult to make time for in my schedule. So many things battle for competition of my time: everyday stuff like laundry, cooking and balancing my checkbook, administrative tasks for my art business, like marketing and accounting, time wasters like internet surfing and excessive social media use, etc., etc. All these need to get done, but if I am not careful, they can crowd out too much of my time. And if that isn’t enough, I have been battling with artist’s block and self-doubt about my abilities to succeed as an artist, (whatever that means), ever since I have taken my art to a more professional level, by showing at art galleries and art fairs, and creating custom art for clients. My standards for making art have really skyrocketed, (and they were already ridiculously high) since I now feel the pressure to try and please others by making art work that “sells.”

However, in all this, I have lost my joy in making art, and don’t even know what it is that I want to say with my art anymore. This period of my life reminds me of another time period when I faced the same kind of self-doubt, when I was a senior in at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, studying art. I was in my final year at McDaniel and taking an art studio thesis course, where I had to make art work that demonstrated something I wanted to say and write an artist statement to support that work. After I got that assignment, I felt paralyzed with indecision. It took me two weeks to come out of that episode of artist’s block, and I really wasn’t sure what I would do during that time. When I was going through this ordeal,  I felt that everything there is to say about art has already been said by many famous artists such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Vermeer, Rembrandt, etc. and that every art subject has already been done in the thousands of years of art history. I felt I had to come up with some really “original” idea and I looked everywhere I could think to find inspiration: art magazines, art books, etc. I finally found my inspiration in the songs of singer/songwriter, Sting, which seemed an unlikely solution to me. I decided to try and illustrate the feelings in some of his songs like Lithium Sunset, by using myself as subject, and color as a way to express emotions. The crisis was solved and I made it through, but I really struggled to climb out of that pit.

Unfortunately, I am finding myself in that awful place again of uncertainty and doubt. So this week I am writing about how to make time for art, in hopes that it will help me to focus my time better and to get back into the habit of regular studio practice. I’d like to share with you some insights from two blog articles I read by Lisa Congdon, entitled, How to Find Time to Make Art When You Work Full Time, (2017) and an article entitled, How to Find Times for Art in a Busy Life, Tara Leaver, (2014) in hopes that you will find it helpful to you in managing your life and making time for creativity. According to Lisa Congdon, there are a few things you can do to help make time for art. For example, she recommends that artists and other creative types set aside a block of time every week, even if it’s only for a few minutes or a few hours, and that these small increments of time will add up over time. She also mentions an all important habit and that is to limit your time on your computer or phone screen. Another blog writer, Julie Fan Fei-Balzer, recommends a few time management apps she uses to track her time online, such as Flipboard, Tweetdeck, and Alinoff (an online computer app that records the amount of time you spend online.) I’ve been taking this advice by setting aside small increments of time daily, just working on demonstration paintings from art technique books to try and get myself back in the groove. And slowly I am getting my courage back to work on original art, which I really need to get back to doing more often, because I realize that if I don’t make art, I have nothing to share with others, as was so wisely said by Art Biz Coach, Alyson Stanfield on her podcast, on Art Marketing Action series,  at http://www.artbizcoach.com.

For example, she recommends that artists and other creative types set aside a block of time every week, even if it’s only for a few minutes or a few hours, and that these small increments of time will add up over time. She also mentions an all important habit and that is to limit your time on your computer or phone screen. Another blog writer, Julie Fan Fei-Balzer, of Balzer Designs, recommends a few time management apps she uses to track her time online, such as Flipboard, Tweetdeck, and Alinoff (an online computer app that records the amount of time you spend online.) I’ve been taking this advice by setting aside small increments of time daily, just working on demonstration paintings from art technique books to try and get myself back in the groove. And slowly I am getting my courage back to work on original art, which I really need to get back to doing more often, because I realize that if I don’t make art, I have nothing to share with others, as was so wisely said by Art Biz Coach, Alyson Stanfield on her podcast, on Art Marketing Action series,  at http://www.artbizcoach.com.

In addition, Tara Leaver, author of the article, How to Find Time for Art in a Busy Life, (2014), states that one way to make time for art is to schedule in blocks of time during the day when you feel you are at your best, whether it’s early in the morning, in the afternoon or late at night. I personally prefer the afternoon or mid-morning, but I know it would be pointless for me to get up early to try and fit art into my schedule because I am not a morning person. She also mentions that having healthy boundaries and the ability to say “No” to others can help you make time for art, although you can occasionally say yes to say, a meeting with friends over coffee.

For me, the saying “No”, might be to a variety of things such as additional art shows, (since they often require much more than just making art, such as marketing, or pricing the work, or getting it ready for distribution, e.g. (framing, matting or pricing). Or it might mean saying “No”, to watching movies or surfing the internet. Even a well-intentioned visit to Pinterest to look for inspiration for my art work can turn into a rabbit hole that keeps me away from my work and instead results in mindless scrolling through other’s people’s art work, recipes, fashion ideas, etc. if I don’t limit my time there. The biggest takeaway I am getting from this journey out of artist’s block, is that I fear to make mistakes so much that I have been avoiding doing my art work, staying busy with other things, such as cleaning the house, art business stuff, or anything else I can think of to stay away from the easel and my fears about whether I might mess something up. I seem to have a pattern of getting excited about projects, and then giving up, when I get to the hard part. However, today I choose to make art in spite of the fear because it’s what I truly love to do, and I want to share my work with others. It’s been my dream to be an artist for as long as I can remember, and despite many setbacks and self-doubt, it seems to be something I return to again and again. I hope it will bring some light and joy to your day viewing my paintings. The Geese drawing and paintings are my original art work, and the landscape is a demonstration from the Jerry Smith book, Expressive Landscapes in Acrylic.

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What is Artist’s Block? Part 2

Last week I wrote about my struggles with artist’s block and I identified two specific types of artist’s block that were keeping me from producing art work, and they are 1.) a mental block and 2.) an emotional barrier. Both of these symptoms seem to culminate in negative self-talk that makes  me afraid to put pencil to paper. In spite of these things, I have been soldiering on. How about you? Did these types of artist’s block relate to you, or maybe you might be dealing with different types of artist’s block, such as work habits that don’t work for you, or personal issues, or a shortage of time, money, or resources, or feeling overscheduled? These types of artist’s block were discussed in the article: Seven Types of Artist’s Block and What to Do about Them by Mark McGuiness, which I mentioned in last week’s blog post. Here is the website if you want to read more about the article:  http://99u.com/articles/7088/7-types-of-creative-block-and-what-to-do-about-them.

This week my main difficulties with artist’s block have been feeling overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions, and my work habits and time management, which are keeping me from being able to consistently produce art. Now that I have made the transition from a hobby artist to a professional artist, there are much more demands on my time than there was when I was just painting for fun. Now there are a myriad of tasks that I need to complete to keep my art business organized (such as taking inventory of my works, so that I know what is available and what has been sold), marketing my art work and sharing my art show events with others via Facebook, personal emails or Instagram, and keeping my web site updated with blog posts to keep people coming back to the site, just to name a few. The ante has really been upped this past month because I have signed up for more art events, which is a good thing because it opens up the door for more sales and personal connections with clients and patrons, but it also means that my administrative tasks increase exponentially. To cope with the added stress, I have been trying to incorporate self-care into my schedule again, whether it’s taking the time to journal, go for a walk, going to my favorite coffee shop, coloring in my coloring books, or just taking a long drive to get away from it all. A little anxiety is a good thing because it motivates me to work, but too much anxiety can make me feel paralyzed and unable to work.

The second aspect of my artist block is dealing with my time management skills and avoiding distractions which can keep me away from making art. Distractions can come in many forms, whether it’s social media, email checking, etc. And I might justify this by saying that it is for my business, and it might well be, say a Facebook post to advertise my upcoming art show at Art Pops! Everedy Square. However, I am learning I need to limit my time on the computer, both for administrative tasks such as data entry for inventory of my art work, or conducting marketing campaigns on Facebook or Instagram.  I also am a person who lacks structure and discipline, so I have to create an outside structure for myself by creating deadlines for myself, writing to-do lists, writing due dates on the calendar and setting my kitchen timer for what I like to call Pomodoro.

These Pomodoro’s are 25-minute increments in which I focus on only one task, whether it’s working on a drawing to post for Instagram for my 100 faces in 100 days drawing challenge or updating my Art of Schmidt web site. Sometimes to maintain my focus, I also need to turn off my phone and not answer emails. Afterward, I take 5-minute breaks to re-group. To learn more about the Pomodoro technique, visit the following web site: https://www.focusboosterapp.com/the-pomodoro-technique.    If I don’t apply discipline and self-control to my routine, I get really behind on my projects, especially since there is no one who will keep me accountable for these tasks but myself.  The insecurity and negative chatter I mentioned in my post last week can really make me want to distract and procrastinate on getting into the studio. I am trying to be more gentle with myself and allow the art to unfold as it will, seeing it as part of a process of learning for me, and not an ultimate destination.