I have found that to stay motivated I have to press pause and go somewhere outdoors amongst trees, dirt and bees. However, every time I have lived in a medium to large city the great outdoors were fairly inaccessible.
A car is necessary to drive far distances to reach the nearest park or preserve. A wild piece of land with nature growing freely beyond fences, landlords and fees is hard to come by near a city.
Did you know there are hardly any sidewalks in the city of Nashville, TN? Pedestrians have to walk next to the edge of the road, and walk past benches with advertisements cautioning drivers to look out for pedestrians.
Downtown has plenty of sidewalks, and some upperclass neighborhoods get some sidewalks but not the whole city. Since when is providing a safe stretch of land to go out for a walk only for some and not for everyone?
The pressure to be constantly interacting online and to self-promote daily as a freelancer gives me anxiety. I was a late bloomer when I discovered Instagram many years after it launched. I have been interacting for years now and although I love supporting the community, I can’t shake the feeling that it is a shiny distraction hindering my long-term growth.
So I am testing my theory for the next 7 months by removing myself from the Instagram realm to see what I experience because during the time when I didn’t know of it’s existence I created the largest body of work. Science and research are fascinating to me so I made myself the test subject.
My mind needs time to process everything I throw at it every second of the day. Time to reflect on what is a true priority. What goals do I want to devote my laser focus towards this year?
It has almost been a month since I uninstalled the social App and it does feel strange to not be constantly connected. I am surprised by how much more time there is to play with, it almost feels like going backwards in time. This freed up time is different, it is like walking into an empty room both silent and vulnerable. What I make in that time is invisible to everyone else which highlights three questions:
Why am I making this? why does it matter? Is this the best use of my limited time?
In this month’s time I have created two new paintings and in the process I used the extra pockets of time to experiment with new techniques for the sake of curiosity. In addition, I write more every day to improve my skills so I can tell clearer stories. In fact, this is the longest article I have ever written on my blog. A blog I actually started to pressure myself into practicing the art of writing.
Some of the new designs and paper products I developed in 2019
Nashville, Tennessee is my new home base, I relocated from my hometown in Florida. The hilly roads were intimidating at first considering the tallest structures in Florida are usually buildings not roads.
The change has opened my eyes to new landscapes, new people, new accents, the experience of fall, snow falling, frosty grass, and bone chilling breezes. I welcome all of these. New adventures are what life is all about, is a life truly being lived if we only live to roll out of bed with a frown, drag ourselves to work, eat the same boring meal, and repeat it all over again day after day? I don’t think so. Life is a true gift, the best gift we will ever receive in our lifetime. I am grateful for the chance to experience something new and am excited for the new year and see what 2020 has in store.
Let’s experience something new. Eat interesting foods. Say thank you for being alive everyday. Stay lighthearted.
Most of 2019 has been spent working on digital mediums. Learning new techniques using digital software and keeping my digital design skills sharp. But I have missed the feel of a pencil scratching the surface of a blank piece of paper.
The above painting was made using traditional materials. Gouache and Watercolor. Every time I look at it I am reminded of the tiny moments that came together to make this image. There is no going back once you start a watercolor painting. You have to commit or start all over again, and perhaps that is what I like about traditional media. The assertiveness it demands. That I had to just keep moving forward because the option to go back and erase was not available.
I’ve had this drawing for a long time and it wasn’t until recently that I figured out how I wanted to finish it. The trouble with moving forward sometimes is the infinite choices and possibilities. How can we make it easier for ourselves to finally make a choice?
Setting specific limitations or project boundaries helps.
For example: Things that have helped
•Deciding to only work with a certain number of colors
•Making a time limit or “finish by deadline” regardless of what it looks like
I keep an old Whitman’s chocolate box in a corner on my tiny art desk. Inside that box are cut pieces of paper that I have kept after cutting up unused sketches, color swatches and just blank pieces of paper I couldn’t bare to throw away and waste. This once tiny stack has grown and instead of tossing paper I cut it and pile it inside the box. Why? What is the purpose of collecting scraps of paper in a chocolate box?
This simple and a bit raggedy little box has become an important part of my end of day routine. This chocolate box has freed me to embrace my curiosity, let go of expectations, mute the noise I’ve absorbed during the day and just have fun. Especially after a long drive home or a stressful day.
I sit down and begin to move my hand WITHOUT any expectations, desired outcomes or questions about the usefulness of these scribbles.
At the beginning I felt stuck, uninspired, scared of making mistakes yet by the end I just feel at peace. Once I feel satisfied I put the stack of layered scribbles inside the box until another day.
• This creates opportunities for new experiences that will influence the work in unexpected ways
2. Exploring a new place/more closely observing a familiar place
• Experiencing something new opens up space for new ideas and noticing something new in a familiar place strengthens observation skills that will develop a refined eye for things such as, seeing how light falls on a tree or how grass is made up of infinitely different greens.
3. Physical labor that benefits someone other than myself
• This tires the body and slows down a spinning wheel of thoughts and worries by putting them into perspective and in relation to the bigger picture of life and others’ lives.