Motivation, Inspiration, and Routines
Have you had one of those days where your body is alive with inspiration and you are creating with ease and joy? Goodness, I love those moments. For me the hours go by in the blink of an eye because I am so tuned in to what I am doing. Those days feel really good. But the fact of the matter, is that everyday is not like that. More often than not, there are a million other things that have to be taken care of that make it hard just to get started with art making.
If you struggle with creating when you aren't feeling inspired or motivated this is for you. I want to share a few tricks that I've learned over the years that might help you stay consistent with your art making and art business.
1: Work with yourself not against yourself.
None of us are exactly the same, yet we often try to work within a framework that was set up for someone else. Are you a night owl? Then why are you forcing yourself to wake up at 6 AM to paint? Are you way too busy to have a spotless house without sacrificing your art making time? It's okay if your house isn't spotless. Are you super forgetful? Set all the reminders, and write down the systems you are establishing so you don't forget steps.
See what you can learn about yourself. When do you have the best focus? What is your sweet spot for number of hours in the studio? Do you need quiet and solitude, or lots of hustle and bustle? Do you need to do a little desk work every day or a lot at once? There is no wrong way to be you (unless you are acting in harmful, unethical ways-- you should probably work on that). Embrace who you are, embrace how your brain and body function, and find ways to work with who you are. You will find more success and less frustration.
I did an experiment when I was first getting back into running. I decided that I would listen to the same album every time I went out for a run. This was so effective that I could be driving down the road and my running music would come on and I literally wanted to pull my car over and get out for a run. I do this with art making too. I make a playlist and then I listen to that for months and months while I paint. This primes my brain to paint. I hear the music and my brain is like, "Oh yeah, I know what's happening! Let's get to work!" What are some routines you can put into place to prime your brain for art making or business tasks?
3: Set a timer.
Often the hardest part to a task is the act of getting started. If you are really struggling to get a task started, set a timer for 15 min. to an hour, and tell yourself you only have to work until the timer goes off. Often times, once you actually get started you want to keep going. Or if it is legitimately a challenging task this helps you break it up into manageable parts.
Inspiration is a fleeting friend. If we only work when we feel inspired we will likely not be successful. The difference between a professional and a hobbyist is professionals always come back to the work, whatever that looks like. So get out for a walk, take a nap, read a book. Maybe inspiration will spark and maybe it won't, but keep on creating. When you are feeling creative take notes of your inspiration so when you are having a dry spell you can come back to it. But whatever you do keep doing the work. Horse trainer, Marijke de Jong reminds us, "If you wait for perfect conditions you'll never get anything done."
There are exceptions to all of these, and they simply may not be what works for you. The biggest thing is don't worry about perfection, embrace the mess, we are all a work in progress.
Do you have any other tips and tricks? Feel free to post in the comments.
This article was originally published by Megan Wimberley here.
In 2018 I went to a prestigious yearly western art exhibit. This show was exhilarating. There is something special about standing in front of an original piece of art. I was lost in colors and brushstrokes, interesting compositions and heartfelt narratives. As I walked through the exhibit of nearly 100 artists something else started to become very apparent. Almost all of the artists were men. Sure they were all incredibly talented, but there are incredibly talented women artists too. Where were they? Before I left, I got a catalogue of the show so that I could get the actual stats. They were bleak-- out of around 95 artists there were approximately 5 female artists. (I still have that catalogue as a reminder and motivation). I recently decided to take a look at the catalogue of artists for the 2021 exhibit and discovered that after 3 years the stats were almost identical.
Total Artists (2021): 95
Male Artists: 86 (91%)
Female Artists: 9 (9%)
In addition to the lack of representation of female artists, there was a lack of representation of women as subjects. When represented, women were statistically more likely to be young, with a child, or with a man when compared with male subjects. In fact. there were only 28 representations of females, 83 of males, and 77 of animals.
Don't get me wrong, I clearly love animals as a subject. But the stats on representation of women artists and women as a subject (and the way in which they are portrayed) in this nationally renowned exhibit should make us stop and consider what is going on here. It's really nothing new. It's an issue that female creatives have dealt with for a long long time, but why are we still accepting this as the norm? Maybe it's just so common that people don't see it. It is like being nose blind. But it is time to expect more.
Making measurable gains is going to require a conscious effort and nuanced approach. It's going to require organizations and shows which are by invitation only to be more aware and make conscious efforts to bring more women in. It is going to require us to be conscious and vocal viewers and connoisseurs. And, it is going to require grassroots efforts, like Cowgirl Art Rodear, to increase representation and support female artists.
With that being said, I am excited to introduce "Cowgirl Artists of America." The mission of Cowgirl Artists of America is to cultivate a community for and promote the work of cowgirl artists. It is in its infant stage right now, but I see so much potential for our community and I really hope you join me.
Cowgirl Artists of America will will evolve as an organization. Right now the focus will be on sharing art by cowgirl artists on Instagram and growing the community on facebook. I don't have all the branding down. I don't have all the businessy things set up to make everything look official and perfect, but I also know that few things compare to the powerful force of a determined group of women.
Please join me on instagram @cowgirlartistsofamerica
and on the facebook community group The facebook community group is meant to be a place to ask questions, learn, share calls for art, and support one another-- a real community. It is a private group so you will have to answer the membership questions.
Leave me a comment if you have any questions and please help me get the word out. And if you are part of an organization that is under-representing women please join us in this effort. We don't want to fight with you, we want you to join our team to create positive change.
(Note on stats from exhibit: Paintings with subjects in the distance were not counted as they were more of a scene scape and less of a focused subject. There were a couple of paintings that were obscured enough that it was not completely clear if the subjects was male or female. I made my best judgement. As there were only a couple of these it would not significantly alter the conclusions if I were wrong.)