Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Momentum: The Gift of Self-Discipline

Collage Quilt BlockThere’s nothing like a good deadline to motivate me to get up and get going.  Having a dream or a vision is also very motivating, but a deadline really puts a good, healthy pressure on me.  I’ve learned to enjoy them.  In fact if I don’t have one, I invent one – or a series of smaller goals to get me up to pace and keep me there.

Moving But Not Rushing

When I’m making some really fascinating artwork I almost rush to finish because I want to see how it’s going to turn out.  Sometimes I have to slow myself down, and remind myself that it’s okay to stop and think or let it be for a while. I can always return to the piece later.  Better that than rushing forward and ruining the work.

Achieving Balance

It seems to me there’s a balance here.  Generate enough velocity to move forward, being creatively productive and getting the works made, but tempering that momentum enough to keep from running down something really special and ruining the work.

Lots to Do, Just Enough Time

Today I applied to be included in a Fine Arts & Craft Faire.  A couple of years ago I had my art showing in a Crafts Faire/Farmer’s Market for about 6-weeks.  The experience was good, and I had a good selection of artworks to show.  For this project, which opens in November, I’m just getting up and running again.  I have a mere 7 weeks, and not knowing how much is going to sell, I’d better create a mountain of pieces for it.

In the mean time I’ve begun a new series of what I call character paintings, and to get ready for this show in November, I’m going to have to slow down on the painting and ramp up the collage work.  It’s going to take daily discipline to create everyday.  The collage pieces are done in batches (even though each is original) but they take about ten or twelve days to complete.

Confession: I’m lazy too!

I’m as lazy as the next artist, which is why I find deadlines so motivating.  When I was directing and designing for a major theatre production company, each production had its own schedule and deadlines.  We worked on one or more phases of several productions at the same time.  Self-discipline was critical, and the deadlines were very motivating.

As of today, I begin at zero on this project – that’s my current creative speed.  In the next several days however, I’ll be accelerating toward my maximum capacity within healthy limits.  I’ll maintain that creative capacity right up to and through the November deadline.  Then I’ll probably slow a bit and prepare for the next project deadline.

Creating Momentum

What I’m trying to share is that without a definite purpose, a definite reason (a deadline) I often find it rather meaningless to get after my artmaking.  But I think a healthy sense of self-discipline, even inventing a reason to go make art, is what separates the successful creative from the complaining wannabee.

In my mind the true artist is someone who must make art.  It’s not an option.  It’s life, breath, food & water.  That’s what I am; someone who must make art.  I’m also human and often lazy, so I create motivation and the momentum to get up, get going, and keep going until the work is done.

Making Art a Habit

That’s what I love about the books I’ve read and re-read.  I learn from the likes of Twyla Tharp about rituals, and Julia Cameron about healthy creative habits, and I do my level best to keep moving regardless of my circumstances.

What Moves You?

What do you find motivating?  Where do you find your “why” for making your art?  Where’s your balance between moving forward and not rushing?  I’d love to hear from you!


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