Keeping pace with an artistic practice

When I’m not carving or printing, I am also a student of the practices of other artists. There are numerous resources to choose from…

•  Julia Cameron writes of the morning pages in her now iconic The Artist’s Way. •  Mason Curry relates the experiences of artists & writers in Daily Rituals : How Artists Work. Some writers say they find inspiration by sitting down every day at 8:30 to write. A good many artists relied on a daily dose of alcohol and amphetamines to bring the muse.
•  Twyla Tharp writes of her own practice in The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. One of her habits is to order a cab every morning to take her to the gym. The cab ride itself is the habit.

Gingersnap thinks it is time for less carving and more food.

Truthfully, such daily habits have always eluded me. I’m not a person to sit idle, but each time I try stick to a studio schedule, within days I am foiled. Not by the catastrophic event, but by the holiday, the actively dying minivan, or the forgotten lunch and cell phone of my spouse. Little things that frankly make up the bulk of my life. I have always suspected that the artists who claim to work exclusively — five to seven days a week from 9am to 5pm — have had staff.

So what is the flexible artist to do?

Recently I’ve begun the practice of capturing small chunks of time to work, whether this be 15 minutes or two hours. Rather than throwing up my hands when my planned studio morning has been interrupted, I quickly recalibrate in my head to capture the needed time somewhere else in the day.

Armed with my trusty earbuds and a strong Pandora connection, I try to blot out the distractions, and the screaming inner critic that says “you can’t be a real artist if you don’t spend vast amounts of time creating…” and press on.

My favorite example of this talent is showcased in the documentary Who Does She Think She Is? where sculptor Janis Wunderlich, mother of five children, explains where she finds some of her time to work. After four children are at school or preschool, the youngest often falls asleep the in the family car. Janis tiptoes into her (presumably) adjacent studio and works for whatever time she has. A woman after my own heart.

Spectacular clouds and tornado warnings chase me to the basement.

And when I’m not able to create, I take pictures of the clouds with my cell phone, or indulge in my latest American Craft Magazine while I wait for the car to be repaired.

What do you do to keep yourself in the habit of making art?