I used to paint just for the hell of it. I loved it. I would get a spark of inspiration and just go for it. My mom always tried to convince me that I should sell some of my work, and although I always thought about it, it took a while before I finally started to put myself out there.
Actually, it took a move across the country to a new city without a job (and no solid prospects) to follow the man I love.
When we first moved to Reno, I was desperate for a job, and since that was not panning out immediately (and since my type-A self needed a sense of purpose), I decided to try to sell a few things on Etsy. Within a couple of days, I had my first sale and I was hooked.
But somewhere along the way, I got caught up in the business part of things and trying to figure out what the masses wanted out of my art and stopped just creating what I love. Once I realized that people would actually pay me for my art, I felt indebted to create what they wanted and stopped doing as much of what I wanted, which is silly, because doing what I wanted was what brought them to me in the first place! I mentioned before that I recently shifted my business focus to MugStudios so that I could relax and figure out what Casey D. Sibley art needed to be.
So, in an effort to rediscover what it is that really makes me tick and inspires me to create beautiful things, I am getting back to the basics:
1. First and foremost, I am going to stop comparing myself to other artists (or at least try). Of course, I will still follow my favorites (and any new ones I come across), but instead of wondering why my art pales in comparison to theirs, I am going to use it as inspiration to keep growing my craft. One thing I like to do is look back at the early work of an artist compared to their current stuff (I will probably continue to do that). There is usually a noticeable change over time, proving that everyone starts somewhere. I saw a post on twitter once that said something like this: If you are not embarrassed by your past work, then you launched to late. True 'dat.
2. Secondly, I'm pursuing my art daily. The only way I can grow is to practice. So I have started journaling (inspired by this post) as a way to dump the creative contents of my mind onto a sheet of paper with no rules. 'Nuff said.
3. I set up a painting station in my studio (<---sounds so much better than "the desk in my apartment"). I have a little storage nook in my bedroom where I used keep all my paints and dragging them out and putting them away every time I got a spark of inspiration kinda snuffed out that spark. Cleaning = chores. I don't want any part of my creative process to be a chore.
4. I'm also squashing the notion that my art has to be one thing or another (this partly relates to numero uno up there and partly to the fact that uber-serious-architecture-me kinda makes artsy-fartsy-me feel like I need to create uber-serious art). I like to paint and draw pretty flowers, among other things! It's time that I stopped denying that. It's pretty silly really, but lately every time I draw a flower, I give myself a little mental slap on the wrist. From now on, self-censorship is a no-no.
Basically, the rules are to create art and throw out the rules. So far, I like the new rules. I have been painting for the hell of it again and sketching and writing in my journal whatever comes to mind, even bitchin' about work (like when I slipped and fell on a patch of ice at a job site the other day) or making a list of things that I need to do over the weekend (creating the best dish for the Super Bowl party) . I also make little notes to myself when I start feeling that weight of creative expectation and remind myself to ignore my...self. I promise I'm not crazy (I don't think).
And with that, I press onward!