Wednesday, October 8, 2014


"Oh Goody." Encaustic, thread and ink transfer, 9 x 12 inches

There is a lot of advice flying around these days. Especially if you are an artist, it seems. I know everyone is genuinely trying to help. Believe me, I can use a lot of help! It is nice to know that people care enough to offer advice. There was a time when I would rebel against any suggestion tossed my way. After struggling and struggling, I decided to start listening to advice and feedback. I even began to seek it out. That was pretty good. Lately, however, I have become more discerning. Some advice just doesn't seem to have any merit, at least not for me. Here's the tough question: How does a person know when to take the advice, and when to just leave it alone?

I am not sure I have a definitive answer. What I have decided is that if I'm uncertain about the advice, I have to listen to my own instincts. Sometimes, the suggestion just isn't going to work for me. Here's one example: believe it or not, one of the most difficult things for an artist is to create a regular studio practice. There are so many things in life that tear us away from making art: marketing, household tasks, errands, bills, business, social events, openings, family obligations, ....the list goes on. One thing I have heard from experienced artists is this little bit of advice: go into the studio first thing in the morning. Before you do anything else, go make art. It sounds good. It sounds like something that would solve the problem of distractions! But after years of painting on my own, I can tell you with absolute certainty that this DOES NOT WORK FOR ME. I am not a morning person. Even though I wake up early, I am not *really* awake until around 10 or 11 am. I like to walk with Pono first thing in the morning. (well, I might have a cup of coffee first, and then walk, depending on how hot it's going to be that day.) Then, I like to feed the dog and eat and do dishes and sweep the floor, check email, maybe do a load of laundry, and take care of some of the daily chores. Then, and only then, do I like to work in the studio. I feel I am at my creative best in the afternoon and evening. My muse is singing. All the "tasks" for the day have been cared for - I don't have any pressing things bogging me down mentally. Now I can paint, unfettered, until I am too tired to stand. That works for me.

Because once I am in the studio, nothing else gets done.

It took me a few years to accept that my way of working wasn't wrong. My way of working is my way of working. So what if the early bird gets the worm? Who wants a worm anyway? Not me.

What about you? How do you decide when advice is worth taking and when it is worth leaving?

A photo of the snake I nearly stepped on this morning. It didn't even rattle. I was the only one shaking. Maybe I needed one more cup of coffee....Advice? Oh, never mind.

I'm pretty sure this is a speckled rattler.


Jennifer Kane said...

nice reflection, i totally agree. make your time and space, in a way that works for you.

Roberta said...

I think it is a conundrum of being a woman. We just have other things we HAVE to tend to. Sometimes the art gets put on the back burner even though we want to get in the studio so badly. I thought I would have more time to paint after my kids left home but it was not the case. We make the art when we can and that is that. As long as we are making it that is what counts.

Denny1600 said...

Hi Karine! I love your encaustic painting. This post about when to get to the studio to make art really hit home with me. I'm trying so hard to develop some routine so I can get those practical things done and still get to my art. I feel as though I'm a morning person, but I can't seem to get to do creative things in the morning. And . . . as you wrote, the things that NEED to be done nag at me and distract me from art. So . . . I think I will try your path. I notice that after lunch, I feel as though I can devote time to art since I completed some of the NEEDY tasks. I'll try it (and try not to feel guilty about it) and see how it works for me. Thanks for writing about this.

As for your rattler "friend," I'm glad you missed each other. I've done that a few times and the adrenaline rush is amazing! Perhaps he/she is in fall mode and was not irritated with you.

Off to run errands so I can be creative today after lunch (and an inspirational visit to a gallery near the restaurant!).

Cynthia Anderson said...

So true. Writers are told the same thing--"morning, morning, morning." Morning works for me sometimes, but I have done some of my best writing in the evenings, after dinner.

Karine Swenson said...

Roberta, believe it or not, the conflicts that arise when one sets out to make art are universally acknowledged, whether you are a woman or a man. (Read "The War of Art" by Steve Pressfield to affirm this). I will tell you from experience that you will never "have" time to make art, you must "make" time for it. Even though I intended for this post to mainly be about advice, it seems I have touched on a familiar chord about developing a strong studio practice. I may have material for my next blog post! :)

Karine Swenson said...

Thank you Jennifer and Cynthia for your comments. I do think it's better to make your art when it works best for you. Morning, afternoon, evening - or the middle of the night if you can't sleep!!! Whenever, just make art!!! (or write or sing or whatever your creative spirit tells you to do.)

Denny - I will be curious to hear how my routine works for you. Best wishes on quality studio time for all of you!

Terry V. said...

Before I sit to do any of my crochet or doodling or whatever I'm up to, I have to clean the kitchen, straighten the living room, make my bed and then I feel I deserve 'me' time. And then on the other hand, if I'm working on a sewing project, I sometimes find myself still in my p.j.s at dinner time, the sun has set and I've not stopped sewing all day.

I agree with Roberta, as a woman, I feel I must do what needs to be done before I play.

As always, work gets in the way most of the time.

That snake - well, I'm SO glad you didn't step on him. I can't stand snakes. Oy!

Happy Thursday,
Terry V.

desert argonauta said...

I think you got our attention here! I agree completely! (which does not always happen--;))

Mornings are good for your own routine -- and I like keeping the ones I set. Advice? Yes seek the reliable sources that speak to your heart!
Wishing you a fabulous art tour!!

Annie said...

Love the painting and the snake :-).
I am like you, I hike in the morning, get things out of the way I NEED to do then I paint and it works best because then I have no distractions. On a good day I start by noon, but it is sometimes 3 before I can paint. I do take at least one day off a week and I try to paint the other 6 days though sometimes life intrudes on that plan.
Each of us has to do what is right for us.