making art

The art of procrastination and what I’ve been afraid of

The art of procrastination and what I’ve been afraid of

At My Special PA our core brand message is…

My Special PA brand message

Supporting other creatives to succeed in doing what they love really is a passion for me and my team, but it will always be a lesser love than making and selling my own artwork. I doubt anyone reading this (and most of you are predominantly creatives anyway) will be surprised to read this.

Over the last month or so, I have been making time for my art career again. It’s been way too long and picking up my art materials and exhibiting my pictures again really does feel fantastic.

Sometimes I have these horrid huge gaps – like 4 – 6months or more, where I know what I need to do more than anything is set time aside / clear the decks and just get on with it ….but I am, like so many other creatives an ace procrastinator.

Oh yes, I can map out, develop, ‘strategise’ and chomp through action lists for our clients with insight, total focus and gusto, but when it comes to my own creative needs, it’s often a very different tale. I will let business admin and domesticity torpedo time I’ve set aside specifically for the stuff that gives me the most pleasure and fulfilment –

but why?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a little bit afraid of my artist self (this may sound ludicrously self-indulgent but please hear me out)…when I get into full-tilt artwork mode, I totally unleash my ‘inner chimp’ – if you haven’t already, I urge you to read The Chimp Paradox – it will make this rather bonkers sounding statement make much more sense. The free spirit, the out of control (in a good way) side of me.

Once I get started making a lovely mess in my overalls, I get so involved I’m always a little concerned that I won’t ever want to go back to the duties and responsibilities of my controlled ‘non-chimp’ life.

I’m not afraid of failure or lack of inspiration (I have often read that these are the key reasons why creatives procrastinate) – I’m afraid of abandoning everything else, forgetting the work I need to do for my My Special PA clients, my team and my business, forgetting to eat, sleep, feed and walk my beloved dog, brush my hair and to wish my loved ones a happy birthday.

Me drawing

Me drawing at a life drawing workshop

As a result, my typical M.O has been to work away quite diligently at finding ways not to do any painting or drawing at all for drawn out periods of time – that way the rest of my professional and personal life will remain in- tact. Even if my soul gets starved of creative oxygen.

Now that is bonkers!

This time it’s been quite different, so I will share the simple steps I’ve taken in the hope that it might be useful to any of you with a similar professional dynamic to me.

  1. I took a few days off from MSPA business activity to just paint and draw totally uninterrupted. I left any guilt at the door.
  2. I made a list of some appropriate local galleries and venues to contact that might like to exhibit my artwork
  3. I contacted them by email and sent images of my work as jpegs and a link to my website – and followed up by phone. 3 new opportunities came my way pretty swiftly afterwards, including the sale of one of my paintings.
  4. I stopped just dreaming about it and made a proper studio space in my spare room, where I can make a mess and shut the door on it at the end of the day rather than doing a massive clean up or needing to travel home from across town.
  5. I started planning another 2 x day intensive life drawing weekend with my mentor artist Bella Pieroni. I produce all of my figurative work in these sessions – sometimes up to 60 quick mixed media life drawings in various sizes. Only 5 of these might be possible works I’d consider framing and putting up for sale. Something will just work, but I have to make a bunch of duds first, particularly if it’s been a while since I’ve done any drawing. The rest will get other homes like studies for my sketchbook or the recycling bin. I think it’s also very healthy to cull the dead wood.

Naturally unless your creative work is your sole source of income, like me, you have to grant yourself permission to make it a priority in your life and then ring fence time to do this work uninterrupted.

Most importantly – on this occasion, I got out of my own way. I made it happen but also with the same spirit I’d approach my work for my clients. It’s really paid dividends and I wanted to share a sense of sheer relief and excitement with you.

If you’ve ever read or watched The Secret you will, of course,  have your own opinions on the core messages of this ideology, but the incredibly simple and positive message of ‘Where attention goes energy flows’ has always really made a huge impact on me.

So I’ve not just secured an autumn show at the Tate, but I actively got things that were neglected and ‘stuck’ moving again and that always seems to create momentum.

Now here’s all the admin related to creating new artwork to do but I can always outsource this to one of my talented team or do it myself one weekend. For me, updating my website is far more straightforward than the action of stepping away from my computer and picking up a paintbrush!

If you are juggling a job or your own business with being an artist, I’d love to hear from you.

How do you balance breaking out your inner chimp with the demands of the rest of your professional/personal life?

How do you ring fence time to get into your art making space?

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