all illustrations from the soon-to-be-published MAKING SPACE TO MAKE book
One of the most misunderstood aspects of artists’ lives… is their work schedule.
I’m serious! It’s one of the most constant issues which has perpetuated; throughout the past 25 + yrs, no matter where in the world my studio has been: daily, often hourly, unanticipated interruptions when I’m working in deep concentration.
Peoples’ perception of what an artist is actually doing is not always accurate: perhaps they look superficially and think we’re just painting pictures, like plastering a wall or cooking dinner. Folk see the surface of a painting, and often don’t appreciate the many layers behind that surface, nor the intensity of focus which we need to place one mark upon another.
The reality is, we’re deep in alpha-wave consciousness, balanced on a wave of inspiration, focussing our energy, experience and passion intently and profoundly in one place, in that one potent moment.
If you’re not really fucked off when someone interrupts your dense creative concentration with a trivial query -then something isn’t right!
We’re expected to put pleasure or ‘non-necessary’ things to the side, and to attend to others’ needs- to not to need or want to go deeper, and to not prioritise our own joy and fulfilment.
Certainly, in my own (Scottish) culture, taking indulgent time to yourself could even be seen as highly offensive: it’s much easier and crowd-pleasing to connect with others through complaining, suffering, being frustrated, than it is to share our ecstasy.
Let’s change that!
Here are 5 top tips for making space to really concentrate on your creative projects; they all might seem obvious, but it’s harder than you’d think to put it into consistent practise.
Get these things right, and you’ll be on the way to having a thriving creative space and practise:
Lock the door and put a sign on it: this is really important – the message should be clear that only the postman has permission to buzz without an appointment.
Switch off the phone and internet – it might go without saying, but real focus only comes through methodically removing all distractions, and the phone and web are both potential irritations. Make at least a few hours’ block to get into your creative space, and work at this – put on some nice ambient music if you really need background noise, but try the silence, just try it, to see what comes up.
Tell people the boundary beforehand, NOT when you’re peeved: start letting folks know that you need this space to really get into your mojo. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know – and they’re likely to react negatively if you bark at them, or get ratty: it’s up to us to define our boundaries and needs. Do it slowly but methodically.
EMPTY your diary: your space and time has to be literally that, space and time. When your agenda is clear, you can get down to the work, which often involves a huge amount of prep time – some of it practical, some of it energetic and psycho-emotional: you need to bring your energy slowly into focus.
Are people still bothering you? Look deeper; what is it about your energetic boundary which is still accepting them in your field of sensitivity: is there something which can’t define that boundary – something which believes that you deserve to be pestered? In my own journey I struggled with this last aspect for years: it was anguishing – perpetual small annoyances, someone always ‘just popping by for a minute’ – totally distracting me from that sacred place of flow.
Remember – creative flow IS sacred, and it’s up to you to define and protect it appropriately!
Making space to make is a vast subject, which I am soon to release a book about: keep in touch via the Live Like A Happy Artist website or Patreon, to hear more.
The Real School Of Art will also be delving into this topic, in a series of classes about how to make your creative space and time truly sacred, and an integral part of your lifestyle – stay tuned!
And if you REALLY need to get away from at all apply now for the Arthouse competition 2016: you could win a month’s creative retreat in Italy!
Now go get creating!