The difference between being an artist and wanting to be an artist is that an artist makes stuff. But in order to make stuff, there are 3 essential ingredients you need to have. Be without any one of these 3 ingredients and an artist isn’t.
Time to imagine, time to create, time to work, to edit and to refine, are essential to the artistic life.
Have you noticed how time has a way of vanishing? My weakness is the mail. Put a pile of open, but unread letters on the dining room table and I will start reading –junk mail, bills, magazines. Lately its been the email inbox, as well. This satisfies a hunger I have for friendship and connection with other humans. There’s better ways to satisfy this hunger than reading emails and junk mail. What are your time drains?
I don’t wait for a big block of time before I make stuff. Small bites of time work, too. I take the 5 minutes and 15 minute gaps in other activities and use them for productivity. Weave a few picks while waiting for the coffee to perk. Edit a blog post while the rice is cooking. Ply a few feet of yarn while the bottles for the goat kids are warming in the sink. Big blocks of free time don’t materialize, so I steal time where I can.
Productive, creative people learn to shut out distractions and make stuff, even in small blocks of time.
The hunger for a small studio space is real. Small studio spaces represent an oasis of space and time where the necessary materials are at hand. I regularly browse tiny house blog and dream of building the elusive sanctuary of creativity.
In the meantime, I work at a computer desk, in the middle of the kitchen or with a loom at the dining room table. Both are high traffic areas, subject to interruptions. I envy those who have “home offices” or studio spaces. I make stuff — blog posts, articles, cloth, yarn — anywhere I can find a space — even for a mere 10 minutes.
If you came unexpectedly for coffee, the first impression you’d have of my house is “cluttered”, “disorganized” and “messy”. Its not dirty. Dirt is cleaned up regularly. But its a space that I can make stuff in — in the midst of a full and busy life.
Having the tools at hand and in the middle of productive work, allows me to pick up where I left off. But that means there is a portable loom at the end of the dining room table, a spinning wheel and lazy kate by the bench in the living room, and a notebook and papers on the computer desk. Someday I might have a “studio” to work in. But working in a studio space means having large blocks of time to work in. On the other hand, if I had a studio space, I’d have an uncluttered house. Maybe my family would even learn to cook.
If you have space and time but no materials, you can’t make stuff. Only God created ex-nihilo. I grow my own materials at Joybilee Farm — coloured wool, mohair and angora, bio-regional natural dyes, medicinal herbs and wood. You might buy yours or you might have a stash of fabrics and yarns gleaned from thrift shops and cast offs, waiting to be upcycled into beautiful clothing or collages.
Most creative people have a “stash” that gives them the materials to create from. S.A.B.L.E. (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy) jokingly refers to the collection of materials, tools and books that all creatives amass to make stuff. It accumulates when there are materials but no space or no time, to use them up.
Artists that have a good balance of all three ingredients, thrive, and make stuff. Maybe the stuff isn’t wonderful yet. But if you keep making stuff it will get better as you develop technique and skills. I’ve learned that if you wait for time, space and materials to appear on the horizon — it won’t come to you. You have to take it. Seize the opportunity and make stuff.
Did you notice I didn’t include creativity in the essentials that no artist can live without. You were made to create — its the thing that sets humans apart from animals. That’s why you want to do it. Now you know you can do it.
Can you find ways to reclaim time, space and materials from the life you have now, so that you express your creativity more often? For a spark to your creativity check out Creative Spark exercises and jump start your art.