This morning, I overslept, still woke up early enough to where I’m not leaving the door for work 20 minutes before my shift, but still enough that it caused a detriment to my morning routine.
Even so, I found that I had some extra time today than I did yesterday (and I did manage to get up at 5 yesterday) and I thought, “Great! I can actually get to painting my Caravaggio head study that I’ve been putting off the last three days.”
Then I stepped into my art studio.
I stepped into the studio, and it was dark, cold, and chilling.
I could possibly, I dunno, go turn on the lights (which are actually in an inconvenient place), put on warmer clothes, promise myself I’ll only paint for five minutes, then not, but nope! I’ve opted to go back into my slightly warmer living room and write a blog post instead with YouTube videos playing ensuring my distraction from what I’ve been put on this earth to do.
So many reasons to not paint. Just stay in bed, play on the computer, type up this blog entry hoping to talk myself into painting while this still time before I have to get ready to leave…
I’m writing this more for myself. It seems like the more I pursue my art career, the more opportunities open up, and the more daunting it becomes. As I’ve said in the past, I’m personally struggling with a very odd Fear of Success (versus the fear of failure. Only instead of not trying because you’re afraid of failing, you don’t want to try because you’re afraid you’ll succeed and can’t handle it). but if you guys think this list is helpful to you too, then that makes me happy! Let’s all go through this journey together!
1. The Internet
Today is probably the best time ever in the history of art to become an artist and make money and recognition in your lifetime! Back in the olden days, you had to be lucky and make friends with a rich person who really really REALLY believed in your work enough to pay you a full salary to sponsor your work. Otherwise, in the less recent time, you had to push to get your art exhibited in galleries (I highly recommend you still go this route for reasons I will explain in a future blog post, but for now, let’s be excited about the internet) where you have to pay a fee for them to show your work and if you are lucky enough to sell any, most of that money will just go back to the gallery. Putting your art in galleries may actually LOSE you more money than you gain.
Now, you can post your art for free, and if you keep at fostering your social media presence, you will eventually gain a following which will put you in contact with people who want to buy your art. Yes, you do have to compete with other artists, but you may forget that this is not a zero-sum gain. Just because one artist gets a commission doesn’t mean you don’t get that commission. You can also make passive income by selling digital prints, eBooks, Patreon, and numerous other places. With the internet, it’s difficult to put all your eggs in one basket, and that’s a good thing!
2. Whatever You Love Doing: There’s a Niche for It
Art is one of the most frustrating things to go into as a profession because what’s “In” in the art world changes so drastically. When I brought my sketchbook to a Portland gallery, the gallery owner noted I did a lot of figure drawings, and those just weren’t “in” right now.
Read my previous point. If you build a following on the internet, it doesn’t matter. Someone will like what you’re doing.
Not only that, but there are infinite numbers of communities for what you’re doing. Even if what you’re doing is purely original, which is unlikely because humans are bad at being original, you will find a niche.
If you like painting waterscapes and fish, fishermen will probably want your art, if your faith is important to you, you automatically have an audience of people in your faith who are probably DYING for the kind of things you create, if you love painting cats and dogs, you have a lot of people out there who love their pets and would be delighted to have you paint a portrait of their beloved Sir Colonel Fluffikins III.
And yes, I know I sound like a broken record when I say “Do What You Love” but I mean it. If you’re working on something because you think that’s what’s “in” right now, you’re not going to care that much about it. When you try to sell it, you’re not going to have that same enthusiasm and conviction that makes people want to buy it (if you don’t care, why should I?), and you’re just going to be frustrated.
So, do what you love. It’s not as hard to find people interested as you might think.
3. You Don’t Even Need to Be Good- At Least, Not Right Away
I believed that before I had any business pursuing a career as an artist, I thought I had to be good. I don’t even know why I thought this, because there are many teenagers out there on the internet who are already making a living making videos of their art and pride themselves on how they’re learning, and simply want to be an amazing artist when they grow up- as they should!
The truth is, a good artist should always be learning. As a general rule of thumb, I found that no artist believes they’re really “good.”
Not only that, but look back at history. The most remembered artists of the 20th century didn’t create the most beautiful, realistic artwork, their expertise lay with creating a strong message behind the artwork, shaking hands with the right people, and marketing.
So, it doesn’t matter if you’re good, as long as you keep at it, love what you’re doing, and do the necessary research along the way, you’ll be fine. You may not get rich, but that’s not the goal, the goal is to be an artist and make enough to get by.
4. There’s Parts of it That Might Suck… Just Like the Job You’re Currently Working Now!
You’re smart enough to know that once someone becomes an artist, there’s a whole lot of challenges to face along the way and after the fact: keeping a business going, deadlines, customer relations, taxes, and there even might be viscous and jealous competing artists. This may be what’s keeping you from pursuing your dream as an artist, that these may be things you don’t want to deal with.
As opposed to be the job you might be working at now, you’re working for someone else, they may be malevolent and send you home every day with this feeling like you’re not worth anything, the work you’re doing is soul-killing and not doing any good for the world, maybe even making it worse, and it may be affecting your attitude, your family may find you unpleasant every time you come home from work, and things will only continue to get worse.
As opposed to working for yourself- you may not make as much money- but you’ll at least have the chance to do something you know is meaningful. You will come to the end of your life not having regretted doing what you really love.
5. Even If You Don’t Make it As an Artist, You Will STILL Pick Up Skills that Job Seekers Like
I do not advocate dropping everything and starving yourself to be an artist. It’s good to have a fallback plan. Take comfort in knowing that not only do you have one, but by following your dream, you will be even more equipped, proficient… and desired, in said fall back plan.
I actually want to write more on this topic, but one of the things that keeps me going, even though I’m still new, is all the skills I’m learning along the way to reaching my dream of being a stay-at-home artist.
I thought of the skills I was learning that jobs seekers wanted: utilizing social media through a business perspective, waking at 5 am to work on my art career before going to my 9-5 job, customer relations, setting and keeping deadlines, sales, photo editing, marketing, website development, etc. Many of these were not skills that I learned how to do in school or at other jobs, but they were skills that I learned while pursuing my own art career.
It’s easy to think that it may not be worth it in the end to become an artist professionally, that you’ll be spending so much time and money on art, no one will want to buy it, and it will all amount to nothing.
Even if you make art that nobody buys, you will learn many other skills and develop habits that will be attractive for future job seekers.
6. You Will Fail… A Lot
The reason why I personally don’t have a fear of failure anymore is because I I know I will fail… many many times.
You will fail to make the masterpiece you want, you will fail to make online sales, you will fail to get the number of followers/subscribers you want, you will enter that Call for Artists, and you will fail to get in. You will fail many many MANY times. And that’s okay. I know, it’s still discouraging when something doesn’t work out, but that’s part of the journey of becoming an artist.
With every failure, you will learn something, the next time you try something, you will approach it a wiser person.
It’s also satisfying to know that you are not a quitter. That the world is out to get you, and knocked you down so many times. Just to spite it, you got back up and kept going. Nothing will keep you down!
You are a warrior! You’re a lion! You’re a Viking!
You’re not afraid.
That tingling feeling in your nerves… that’s excitement. You’re going to go back out there and fight! Everyone will see how impassioned you are, and they will either cheer loudly with you and follow you to victory… or out of fear, they will get out of your way.
7. It Takes Time, but It’s So Worth It. And Fulfilling
Becoming an artist is not something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of time. You’ll find shortcuts along the way, but for now, what you have is a cute little baby snowball.
You keep packing a little snow here and there, and it’ll get bigger. You roll it down a hill, and it will start to spiral and get so big you don’t know what to do with it (which is why I’m writing this blog post right now).
I know that ever since I decided to dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes every day to my art, I go to my day job feeling happier and more fulfilled. I have a sense of purpose and understanding of who I am because of my ambitions and goals that I dedicate a little time every day too. I am more resilient, less anxious, and stronger because of the habits that I spent the last several months accumulating. Because I actively look for things in other peoples’ art that I like- and used my art to build a philosophy of focusing more on creating the world you love instead of tearing down the one you hate- I am much less introverted and enjoy being around people more.
I like the person I am. Especially since I decided that I was no longer going to be afraid to be the artist I want to be.
I’m an artist! Of course I’m crazy! (Actually, believe it or not, there might not actually be any correlation between creativity and mental illness according to this Psychology Today article. When I got myself tested, I was only diagnosed with a minor form of anxiety, but who doesn’t have it in this day and age?)
Even so, sometimes we feel like we’re actually two people. There’s the rational side that has big dreams and knows that it requires hard work to reach said dreams, then there’s the instant-gratification monkey that doesn’t want to work hard. These are also things I say to myself when I’m feeling frustrated, scared, or lazy. These are things that help me a lot of personally, and I invite you to try saying these to yourself.
1. I Will be Okay.
I wish I could say I came up with this, but this something that I hear all the time from Charlie on his YouTube Channel Charisma on Command, which I strongly recommend especially if you’re socially anxious and shy.
Every time I think things are not going well, or I’m about to apply to have my art exhibited, or try something new that could potentially help my art career, I just think to myself, “No matter what, I will be okay.” And I will. Even if things turn out so wrong for a while, I know I’ll get through it somehow.
2. This Too Shall Pass.
A quote from my old buddy, Mark. Something I say when I’m really not having a good time for whatever reason like I made a mistake at work, am receiving harsh criticism that I can’t find a way it will help my art, or I’m sick and miserable (at least then I can read a book). These are the moments you really can’t stop and appreciate. All you can remember is that they will pass, and you can move on.
3. Don’t Compare yourself to others. Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday.
I really really should have put the book I got this from on my list of books that shaped my philosophy, but I’m happy to give a nod to it now. This is a rule from Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life that helped me a lot as an artist (that and Treat Yourself Like Someone You’re Responsible for Caring For). This is something that keeps me from being overwhelmed, and even happy for, the artists out there with skill that I will never come to close to, but I still get to keep my competitive spirit by competing against myself. Although, sometimes I feel I’m ahead, and sometimes I’m behind. And that’s okay too.
4. I am Not a Quitter
Running on a treadmill? Having a rough time at your job that you’re not sure you can take anymore? Learning something new and you’re hitting a wall? Whenever this happens to me, I simply whisper, “I’m not a quitter.” and it gives me the boost I need to keep going, even if it’s just for a few more minutes. Now, maybe you are a quitter. Maybe you’re the kind of person who quits 100 times out of 99. Not in that moment, you’re not!
5. It Will Only Take 10 Minutes
Every time I wanted to read a book, paint, work out, or something I needed to do, suddenly, I never wanted to do it. I believe you have felt this way repeatedly. I learned, albeit later than I would’ve liked, that’s not the act of doing something that’s all that important, but starting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked myself into spending only ten minutes on a project, ten minutes go by and I think, “Eh, I can keep going” and next thing I know, two hours went by, I have an almost completed painting, and I realize I forgot to eat breakfast.
6. Don’t Let Fear Rule Your Life
When I was about to graduate with my bachelor’s, I was in a kind of slump. I wasn’t sure where my life was going, what I was going to do next, and I was very, VERY scared. That was when I decided to go live in Italy for a year. Every step it took me getting there from the application process, to the acceptance letter, to the getting my passport and visa, it felt like something was fighting me. What if I end up destitute? What if it goes wrong?
My mother said, “Don’t let fear rule your life.”
If I listened to that fear, I would have never had that experience, met those wonderful people on my journeys, and have those wonderful stories.
7. If takes less than 5 minutes. Do it now.
“I will find a goddamn light, man.” Was listening to a Kevin Hart interview excerpt while I was writing this. The fact that this man is just “happy” and can take any moment and find joy in it somewhere is just a rare thing.
So, I didn’t think I’d be doing this again so soon, but the 7 Day Lazy Challenge was such a huge personal success, that I couldn’t wait to start again.
I’m a huge believer in doing anything new twice. This probably isn’t the best way to go about life, but generally when trying anything new, I generally wing it, suck at it, learn from it, then do it better a second time.
What is the 7 Day Lazy Morning Challenge?
In short: It’s a challenge to wake up at 5 am every day for 7 days and spend 30 minutes minimum on a project- while being as lazy as possible.
Prior to Day 1, you set up your week so that you are able to accomplish this with as little effort as possible. This means having breakfasts set up ahead of time, having your wardrobe already planned and ready to go, and having your work space already set up and planned out so that you can. Another important aspect is eliminating as many distractions as possible- are you working on your project, or playing on your phone?
Last week, for example, I made 14 hardboiled eggs so that I could wake up and start the day with a quick, healthy breakfast without cooking or dishes taking up time. Since my project is art, I made sure that I had a space set up with my sketchbook, drawing utensils, and drawing references. As a result, I’ve been leaving the house earlier for my day job, starting the day less stressed, and feeling more focused and in a better mood overall.
This week, I’m adding a few tweaks.
The name “7 Day Lazy Challenge” is now “7 Day Lazy Morning Challenge.”
Wardrobe is now taken into consideration
Minor Adjustments to the kitchen routine.
More emphasis on workspace set-up
Day 0: Setting Up
My alarm is the app, Alarmy. It is set so that the noise doesn’t go off until I take a picture of the coffee maker. The purpose being that I can smell the coffee (which was Delay set the night before to brew 15 minutes before I’m actually supposed to be up).
I decided to go a little fancier with the breakfast this time. I made multiple yogurt parfaits using plastic cups my husband and I still had left over from our wedding.
Basically, it’s a fruit preserve (in our case, blackberry, strawberry, and apricot), plain yogurt, and granola. I made one for every day of the week.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What if one day I decide I really want to set time aside to fry up bacon, waffles, or pancakes instead? After all, I have extra time now!” Not to worry! You can pack up your “quick breakfast” and take it with you to work to have with your lunch or as a snack! This is simply made as a time saver and will make you very happy when you’re too groggy to make a proper breakfast!
I also attempted to set aside 14 coffee mugs -7 for me and 7 for my spouse- so that they’re just right there. No looking around and finding one or washing one if there’s only dirty ones. Turns out, we don’t have 14 coffee mugs (because we’re not insane). But that’s okay. It’s not good to have dirty mugs pile up anyway.
3. Wardrobe Set Up
For a more in-depth look into Wardrobe set up, I recommend reading Who What Wear’s article, I Tried Planning My Outfits by Gina Marinelli.
It’s really weird how much of a difference your wardrobe makes. One factor of morning stress is trying to think about and throw together an outfit the morning before going work.
One thing I’m adding for this week that will save a few minutes: setting up the wardrobe. On Day 0, do your laundry make sure you have 7 outfits. set up ahead of time. A really easy way to do this is to have a Capsule Wardrobe. Where you don’t have a lot of pieces of an outfit, but the few you have are the some color pallet and all the tops, bottoms, socks, etc go with each other perfectly.
For extra measure, I put my outfits in a laundry basket in my art studio. The intention being I’ll paint for 30 minutes, then turn around and put an outfit on. This guarantees that I’ll actually go into my art studio to paint since the clothes I need to wear for the day are in there.
Don’t worry, they’re on the opposite end of the room, so they won’t get paint on them… I hope…
4. Workspace Set Up/ Project Planning
Having your workspace all ready to go will save time and stress. In my art studio, I have fresh, new turpentine, clean brushes, and a blank pallet for my paints (if I wanted to take it a step further, I would have set up my color pallet ahead of time as oils don’t dry overnight).
Another thing: Instead of being completely lazy, and just drawing on the couch with my references, I have a plan as to what I will do every day this week for my paintings.
Ascension (the angel painting pictured above)
Portrait of my husband
Under drawing of a portrait of my sister
Under painting of the portrait of my sister
Merchantman (1 hour)
Portrait of my husband (1 hour)
Theotokos (1 hour)
The last three will be for one hour instead of 30 minutes because I don’t have those days.
Since I’ve already planned what I will do ahead of time, I won’t sit in my studio wondering what painting to work on. If I feel inspired to work on a different painting, that’s fine, at least I planned out what I intend to do for the next 7 days.
5. Limit Distractions
I’ve been using the app, Forest, which grows a virtual tree on your phone that prevents you from looking at social media for a set period of time until the tree has grown. You can even look at your progress in the form of a virtual forest that has grown over the past day, week, and even year. It’s not perfect. You can still look at email, texting, and YouTube, but it’s still fun.
Another thing I want to add is a music playlist or podcast. I remember when I was in highschool and I would waste so much time putting together the perfect playlist for my schoolwork instead of doing my actual schoolwork. If you can have that set up the week before, whether that be a Spotify playlist (note: If you have Forest and Spotify on at the same time, your tunes will still play, but Forest will prevent you from looking at Spotify to skip or make changes), a daily podcast, etc. Have that set up the week before so that you don’t have to waste time worrying about it in the morning.
Hello! Welcome to Day 6 out of the 7 Day Laziness challenge, where we set up our week in advance so that we have to work HARDER to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep than wake up early and get our day started and can actually start our day with a little victory by honing our skills for 30 minutes!
It finally happened! I’m on Day 6, and my sleep cycle has adjusted. I am fully confident that after tomorrow, I will be able to continue to wake up at 5 am to draw or paint without fuss.
Also, my husband wanted to wake up at 5 with me so that we’re not rushing to get out of the house. This has been nice, and I actually got to work 15 minutes early yesterday instead of exactly on time.
Today was a much rougher start in comparison to yesterday. Even though this time I got an extra hour of sleep, it was difficult to wake up, and when I did, I was very slow and groggy. I woke up in a middle of a terrifying dream, so I guess it wasn’t all bad waking up when I did.
The coffee also wasn’t ready so while I waited, I ate my hard boiled eggs, I drew up some abstract shapes and sketches in preparation for a future painting. I did not start the timer at this time, this was more of a warm-up.
Instead of getting to work on my art, my body was trying to do everything BUT that- cleaning, playing on my phone, looking at art on Instagram (which I’m supposed to do every day anyway, but not right at that moment).
Spending 30 minutes on art felt daunting to me, so I instead split my time into two 15-minute increments. This was significantly less daunting.
As a result, this morning felt very productive. I didn’t have the attention span to sit down and do a drawing for 30 minutes, so instead, I worked on some of my paintings.
After spending 15 minutes on my husband’s painting, I varnished the Springtime (or Young Couple on a Swing) painting:
The varnishing did not take as long as I thought it would, I still had about 9 minutes left on the timer, so I worked a little bit on the painting in my portrait series.
And since I’m using the Forest app as my timer/motivation/distraction killer, here is a screenshot of my “forest” for the past two days since I started this challenge. It’s not much, but it’s nice to see that forest as an extra tangible sense of accomplishment:
If I didn’t have a quick and easy breakfast set up on Day 0, a set-up workspace, the Alarmy app, and the Forest app, I don’t think there’s any way I could have gotten through this morning.
Another thing was that instead of working on one big thing, I opted to work on a bunch of quick, little things-which is good- because really that’s all a big project is, just a series a little increments put together. I finished one painting, am really close to finishing another, and making progress on a third. Even though I spent the same amount of time than yesterday, I feel a bigger sense of accomplishment today.