This is a post from the archives: September 11, 2014
A friend recently sent me a link to a great article by Luminita D. Saviuc, called "15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy." As I read down the list, I started to think about how the list was filled with things that I tell my students all the time. So here is Luminita's list, with my comments on how each one can be related to art-making!
1. Give up your need to always be right.
You guys, art making should be fun! Needing to do it "right" can be very inhibiting to the creative process. I believe that coloring outside of the lines and using materials in ways that feel good to you -- even if they're "wrong" -- is awesome.
2. Give up your need for control.
Watching every brush stroke and needing the finished piece to look like the image in your head can be very discouraging. I work very hard at embracing "mistakes" as creative opportunities. I try to let the art take me where it wants to go. I believe that spontaneity is vital to art making.
3. Give up on blame.
We all wish we had more time, more talent, and more supplies. I think that when you get rid of that blaming talk and embrace what you do have, you're a happier artist! Do the best that you can with whatever you've got and be proud of yourself for it!
4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk.
Tell the voice in your head to shut up. Mine is very loud, so I crank up the music in my studio so that I can't hear it. Someone once said to me, "People are always going to tear you down. Why would you give them a head start by tearing yourself down first?" You are an awesome artist! Say it every day and one day you'll start to believe it!
5. Give up your limiting beliefs.
I have heard so many people say, "I can't draw," or "I'm not an artist." I've said those things myself. They're not true. I always felt that because I couldn't draw a photographic representation of something that I wasn't an artist. I've learned two things: that's not the only definition of an artist and I am a better draw-er than I thought, especially with disciplined practice. Whatever belief is holding you back from being the artist you want to be -- let it go! You can fly!
6. Give up complaining.
Complaining takes away energy and focus and makes the arting process less fun. Focus on what you love about your studio, your supplies, the art you're creating...all of it! I once read a happiness study that blew my mind. They tested people's happiness and then divided them into two groups. Group one was left alone as a control group. Group two was told to write down five things they were grateful for every single day. Guess what? At the end of the study group two was markedly more happy than group one! Focus on the positive rather than the negative and you will be happy with your art making!
7. Give up the luxury of criticism.
Criticism and critique are two different things. Looking at a piece -- yours or someone else's -- and analyzing what you like and don't like about it and why, is a good thing. It's a learning experience. Simply criticizing art -- yours or someone else's -- is a negative experience. I believe the trick is analyze why something works for you or doesn't. If you can't answer why, it's not useful feedback because the issue can't be fixed or learned from.
8. Give up your need to impress others.
Man, oh, man, this one is tough for me. I want people to love what I do. On some level I need people to love what I do. I have to remind myself daily that my worth as an artist is not tied into blog comments and instagram likes and Facebook comments. It's difficult. That said, some of the best art I've ever created was when I let go of doing what I thought was "cool" or would sell, and did what I wanted to do.
9. Give up your resistance to change.
It's so easy to get stuck in an art rut. Something works so you keep doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it. Remember, you learn more from failure than from sucess. I believe that to grow as an artist I must keep taking risks and doing things that make me uncomfortable. That's why I love my art journal so much! It's a super low risk forum for exploring new ideas and materials.
10. Give up labels.
People ask me all the time what kind of artist I am.
I'm the kind who makes art.
I'm also a crafter. I'm also a scrapbooker. I'm also a beader. I'm also a quilter. I'm lots of things and having to shove myself in one box is silly. It makes me feel limited. Labels are limiting. Why do we need to define creativity?
11. Give up on your fears.
"We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Or how about, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to overcome it." Fear is a self-imposed limit. Don't limit your art. What's the worst thing that can happen? And even if that terrible thing did happen, we're not talking a life and death situation, right? I say, kick fear in the pants and keep pushing onward!
12. Give up your excuses.
Sometimes it's easier to find a reason why you can't make art than to go into your art space and get going. I'm a great believer that you'll find time to do what is important to you. If art making isn't important to you, that's 100% okay. Excuses are guilt-inducing. Art is guilt-free zone. Seriously, it has no calories! ;) And, anyway, we all go through phases. There are plenty of times that I don't feel like making art. Rather than make an excuse, I embrace my mood and go do something else I enjoy, guilt free!
13. Give up the past.
So you were told that you couldn't draw or you weren't creative. So what?! This is now.
So you tried art journaling or scrapbooking or crochet and you weren't good at it. So what?! This is now.
Don't let the past dictate your future. Art making is a practice like any other. Practicing daily is the key to getting to where you want to be. Looking back isn't helpful.
14. Give up attachment.
If you take away one thing from this list, please take this one. The single biggest leap in my art has been from letting go of the preciousness of things I liked in my art. By being brave and covering it up, cutting it in half, or "ruining" it, I have created works of art that I love love love! I have grown and flourished as an artist because I don't let myself get attached. When I teach, I call it "killing your babies." Sometimes in art, you have to kill your baby. It will be okay.
15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations.
There are plenty of people who smile sympathetically when I tell them I'm an artist. In fact, I recently went to an event for "professionals" -- doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, finance people -- and was made to feel very useless and very small because of my profession. After I left I had to shrug it off. I love what I do! Let's not lose track of that fact! Oh, I gave up one being a good housekeeper years ago. I'd rather spend that half hour in my studio.
Tell me about how you've found happiness in your art making! I'd love to know! Let's spread the happiness and love of art making!
Thanks for stopping by!