We’ve all had those seasons in life where you just can’t seem to stay on top of everything. I kind of hate that season. But I do it to myself. I tend to want to do everything and I also find that my nature to pursue excellence pushes me to get scattered at times. Often, I come across artwork or creative endeavours that intrigue me and I wonder if I should explore that. I end up pushing myself in multiple directions. Yes, I said it, “pushing myself”. Nobody else does it to me. I do it to myself.
SELF FULFILLING CHAOS
In the middle of this season of being behind I seem to always stop, look around and wonder why life is like this. Well, the answer is, it’s because I want it to be. Or at least I manufacture it, willingly or inadvertently, I don’t know. I just can’t leave well enough alone or stay on one path. My creative nature has me jumping around… a lot. This is why last year I painted 64 portraits and this year, since January, I’ve only painted 8. Eight! For real! 64 down to 8.
It’s frustrating, no, infuriating at times that I can’t stay consistent. In the past, I’ve tried to use my extracurricular creative time to focus on one thing. Those of you who have been following me for a while will remember that it only left me doing nothing and feeling depressed. I seemingly need to be scattered. The fleeting amount of time I have to create outside of my day-to-day work and family commitments is special and important. There is something about the fluidity of it that I need.
FREEDOM IN THE CHAOS
Maybe because it’s an area of life that I can play in. One area that has fewer specific requirements and maybe that is a gift and that is why I bounce. I bounce from concept to concept and project to project. I’ve often fantasized that one day I could have a studio on my property where I just work on painting and writing as my day-to-day work. That I could have a creative practice that is specifically tailored to my desires. But I wonder, would that option turn my exploratory “fun” creative endeavours into the “work” part of my life?
Would I lose the spark of creativity that I strive for in the pressure of everyday, practical demands?
A LIST TO HELP MY BRAIN
You may be wondering at this point what I am whining about exactly. Well, here is a breakdown of all the things I want to do that are taking me FOREVER!
- WRITING – Adapt my Echoes novel series into a graphic novel story format. I currently am working through this as time allows. I have a loose outline for one of the seven books completed.
- PAINTING – I am on portrait 73/100 of my 100 portrait challenge. As I mentioned. This year I’ve only managed to complete 8 portraits. Am I slowing because I’m tired or afraid to finish or bored? I just don’t know. I recently started painting with Oil Paints. That has been a fun exploratory process which is slowing down my progress toward my goal.
- PATREON – I dedicate a significant amount of time each month to PATREON. This is good. It’s great in fact. That small (very small) audience is the most engaged with my work. I love interacting with them. It feels like the most genuine part of my audience.
- ETSY – Sales on ETSY are way down this year while the traffic to my store is up from last year. Likely, this is a byproduct of inflation, war and the looming recession. I have been spending some time optimizing the store and my listings. It does seem to be improving my visibility.
- TEACHING – I have one student through my PATREON page. He’s a great young man and I appreciate our time together greatly. I feel like this is one of the most frightening and rewarding aspects of my creative journey.
- SOCIAL MEDIA – UGH. Social media is a drag. It’s a constant thorn. A constant challenge and lately it feels worse than normal. Mostly because Instagram is so different. I used to actually love the platform and now that it seems to be demanding that I create reels, I hate it. User engagement is way down and it feels like I’m doing a lot for very little. I have been trying to stay more active on Twitter and Facebook as well, It’s a constant pull. I have to re-evaluate my relationship with this medium. It may be that I need to pull back.
- PULP STUDIOS INC. – My day-to-day business is as a co-owner and creative director at a small animation studio in Edmonton, Alberta. This business is awesome! I love it and am so proud of what we have accomplished, even so, It’s a constant weight. Over the last 18 years, I’ve tried to understand how to handle the stress of self-employment better. You’d think by now it’d be old hat. But it’s a constant work in progress.
- YOUTUBE – I do enjoy creating video content around my creative practice. I’d like to do more of this. Again… it’s a time crunch and I have not been able to dedicate a lot to it lately.
- EMAIL NEWSLETTER – Then there is this email. This is an aspect of my communication tools that I feel I need to put more focus on. The changes in Instagram have shown me that I can’t always count on social media to be the solution. An audience that has opted into communication with me is so meaningful, even if only 30% of you open my emails. 🙂 At least I know it’s going to be in people’s inboxes.
- COMMISSIONS – Boy! I love creating commissions and working with people directly on a specific vision is so fulfilling. My clients have all been so lovely! This is probably an area of my creative practice I should focus on.
Ok. That’s a lot. As a follow-up exercise to this mind dump of challenges I should make a list of goals and priorities, perhaps that’s an idea for a future post.
CLEAR AND DIRECT COMMUNICATION
The book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman calls us toward clear and direct communication to help relationships succeed. In the context of my creative endeavours, direct calls to action are not really my thing and I need to get better at asking my audience to take specific steps to support me. I tend to put my work out there and let the chips fall where they may. Paradoxically, I am a business owner and understand the deep value of creativity. I likely need to be more proactive with my ask.
Are you still with me? If so, you obviously care about my thoughts and work.
Here are practical ways to support my efforts.
- Share my website, Instagram and youtube with people you know. Here is a link to my latest youtube video.
- Become a patron on my PATREON and share this with people you know that may like it.
- Buy an art print from my ETSY store
- Buy a copy of Ghoster Heights, the graphic novel I wrote with my business partner Kelly Mellings. It will be released in September by Wonder Bound.
- Sign up for my monthly newsletter.
Thank you to everyone who has been with me for the long haul and those who have recently taken up residence in the village of my creative domain. This journey of creativity would not be the same without you. Thank you thank you thank you.