Friday, August 29, 2014

5 Actions to Kick-Start Art Making this Autumn

It is Friday so here is another newsletter excerpt...

For those of us in Canada and the U.S. this weekend is a long weekend with Monday being Labour Day (or Labor Day as it is spelled in the U.S. colour versus color, we Canadians like our ‘u’s J)
This weekend might not be the official end of summer but it marks it in many other ways. It is back to work, back to school and back to all of the activities and courses that we choose to participate in.

Before we launch into the excitement of a new season of activity let’s look back at our summers. Those of you with very good memories might remember my ideas of a couple of months ago on how you could incorporate art into your summer, especially your holidays.

How did that go for you? Did routing through your stash of unfinished work and then your stash of art books leave your house in a mess? J Sorry about that. It was for a good purpose!

Did you find time to create art with the children in your life? Anyone attempt my coloured pencil-on-Mylar fish project?

If you didn’t get out your sketch book as often as you had hoped, or you still have some art books you want to have a look through, give yourself a wonderful gift – find some time to just sit this weekend. Grab that sketchbook or an art book, pour a cup of tea, settle into a chair in the shade and soak up the pleasure that art gives you.


a sketch of a hay bale done in ink and coloured pencil, copyright Teresa Mallen

While you are enjoying your lawn chair this weekend, this would be a good time to journal a plan - an art making plan, for the next few months.

Let’s face it, between being back full steam at work, your yoga classes, your volunteer work or whatever else you enjoy and the craziness around Thanksgiving and the December holidays, it can get overwhelming.  All of your intentions to create art can get shoved aside when ‘real life’ sets in. I have some suggestions that will help you...

5 Actions For Your Autumn 2014 Art Making Plan:
1)    Commit. Sounds simple and it is. Make a commitment to do art regularly this fall and then schedule it in. Here is how easy it is to make this work:

 Let’s say you signed up for an art class that is set to take place every Thursday night, 7-10 p.m. for twelve weeks. You would have to do things each week to make it possible to attend. You might have to arrange to have the family car that night. You might have to cook dinner early and also make sure that you didn’t work late that night.

You get the idea. So, why not take this level of commitment to your art making even if you aren’t taking a class? Pick an evening and share your news with your family. Do what you need to do – the early supper and all of that. Then go to the room where you keep your art supplies, shut the door, put on some of your favourite music and get creating. Turn off your phone (no email or texting), post a do-not-disturb sign and don’t tolerate interruptions. Train your loved ones! It can be done. Imagine what you could accomplish in 12 weeks. Pretty exciting, huh?

2)    Buy supplies. Whether or not you enjoyed school, I think we can all agree that it was fun to get new pens and pencils, crayons, binders etc. Take advantage of the back to school sales and grab some fun art making supplies. Treat yourself to something new, maybe some coloured pencils from open stock that are a brand you have never used. How about trying some new paper?

3)    Book some artist dates into your plan. No doubt most of you reading this have heard of Julia Cameron’s famous book, the Artist’s Way. Her idea of us going on artist dates has spread far and wide. It has spread because it is a great way to stoke our creative fires. When was the last time you went on your artist date? Hum...

 So go ahead and plan some fun arty gigs - anything from checking out a new art exhibit at a gallery in town to taking a workshop, to messing about with your stash of unused art supplies. It can be an hour or two carved out during the week (maybe a lunch hour) or it can be a decadent outing on a weekend afternoon. Just make sure to schedule these fun and inspiring activities in.

4)    This one is optional but if you are the sort that finds it hard to follow through on your plans, it might help to get an accountability buddy. Have your spouse or a friend check in with you once a week to see how you are doing, to see if you are working your plan. This check in can be quick. It can be a phone call or a quick cup of coffee together but it does help if you have to explain yourself to someone. Of course pick a person that won’t sympathize about your distractions but will help keep your feet to the fire!

5)    Post your schedule. It can be awful easy to forget about something heartfelt and important written in a pretty journal and then stored somewhere. Grab the family calendar and start marking your weekly ‘evening at home art hours’ in. Put it all down. Block off the artist dates, even if you don’t know yet what you will be doing. Write in the weekly accountability phone call.

Remember that you are the artist of your ‘every day’, on the canvas of your life.

 Novelist Marie von Ebner-Eschenback wrote in 1905 that “Nothing is so often irretrievably missed as a daily opportunity.” You may not be able to get to your art making daily but you can make a plan that incorporates more art “opportunities” than you are currently enjoying.

 Now go grab that cup of tea or glass of wine, your sketchbook, pencils and a calendar for plotting your plan and position that lawn chair just so...I’ll be thinking of you.


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