In doing my homework for a client I was working on not too long ago, I came across this article (which actually had nothing to do with the client or what I was doing for them lol).
It was called 10 Reasons Why You Should Not Become an Architect by Michael Riscica, and though I am not an architect (although I’ve known my fair share both within and outside of my family), I could so totally relate.
Many of the items (if not all) on the list are so completely applicable to artists. After all, architecture is an art in its own right~and I could really feel that the author really dug deep when it was written.
So much so that 1. I felt like giving the author a hug after I read it, and 2. I felt like coming up with my own list. It had crossed my mind recently to write a sort of ‘open letter to aspiring artists’ in the same vein, but this is probably *neater*. Some of these reasons are adapted from the article, while some of them are so totally mine.
‘In the zone’ is the term people use, if I’m not mistaken; the term I’ve been using is ‘stopping time’. That’s sort of a semi-secret I let jillafriends in on a little while ago, and when I did, I wondered whether there was any ‘serious science’ behind why it was so effective~for me, at least.
Turns out, there is, and I found out quite by accident quite recently through an almost completely unrelated channel (this Fast Company post, in case you were curious). Seeing as I was one of the last people on earth to own a mobile phone or get on social media, it shouldn’t be too surprising for me to be one of the last to find out how experts refer to my ‘stopped time’ as a ‘flow state’.
As it turns out, I’ve had to do a little impromptu reading today on flow states which very naturally roused my curiosity~considering the not unimportant part it plays in my ‘painting factory operations’. So I thought I’d look a little closer into ‘the state to be’~all the time, if it were up to me~at least, whenever the painting factory is up and running.
…that is, after working all day and without pulling an all-nighter. 😛
Anyone who knows me personally knows how I’ve led a *double life*, i.e. working as a writer during the day and *arting* at night, for a really long time. For good or ill, it’s been the only way I’ve been able to keep the *painting factory* going.
Thing is, the older I get, the harder it is to keep it going this way. But I want to keep it going ~ and I think I can, too. It’s just, I’m having to find other ways, other things to help me do it.
I’d like to share these six things in the hopes that they may help anyone who’s got art or anything they’d like to work on but can’t during office hours. These six seem the most viable to me now that end-to-end all-nighters for months on end aren’t such a good idea anymore. 😅
I mean I hate to admit it, but I guess even jillamonsters need sleep like everybody else. 🤣
A World Filled With Love, Detail, 36 x 48" (with frame) / 91.44 x 121.92 cm, Watercolour on Paper, 2006
My posts seem to be a lot more, ‘reactionary’ these days—I understand being reactionary isn’t considered a good thing in general. In any case, this post comes as the result of the ‘happiness meeting’ we had at my nice new job last Thursday. That ‘happiness meeting’ is one where we get together and talk about stuff that made you happy over the last week.
Very briefly, in a previous post (and other posts since) I’ve spoken about how I’m also a writer (the kind that works in advertising and marketing). And very recently (eight working days ago, to be precise) I started another job that brings people together from literally all over the world on the internet.
Anyway, during that meeting, Erikka, one of my new co-workers (who’s the only other one of us from the Philippines) shared how she was currently country-hopping all over Europe. And one of my new bosses (who’s from Germany but is currently ‘digital nomadding’ all over South America) remarked on how, once we were able to meet, I could maybe do like a company painting out there or something.
Windy Day, Detail, 48 x 36" (with frame) /121.92 x 91.44 cm, Watercolour on Paper, 2006
People who know me might laugh when they hear me say this, but I really have a hard time asking anybody for help, for anything.
Just this past week, for instance, at my other job, I was forced to realise that my backlog had grown to unmanageable proportions. Blame it on my bad time management or what you will, but blaming wasn’t going to get the tasks done. I was embarrassed to ask the others on my team to help out, because I was hyper aware that they had tasks of their own, too.
In the end, I asked for help, and hey, presto! The tasks were done in a day, when they had been sitting on my to-do list for weeks.
So I admit—I’m like that as an artist, too. But I guess now I’m having to recognise, formally, that asking for help with your practice isn’t a bad thing.
As the voice of experience in that hit 80s gangster movie, Sean Connery tells Charles Martin Smith that stamping his feet will keep him warm—something he learned in his 20 years of walking the beat. I haven’t been practising that long, but I guess you can’t help picking stuff up here and there that hopefully will help you ‘the next time you return to the woods’.
I’ve always said every show for me was a learning experience, and that every show always feels like the first. I may’ve worked on themes and exhibited in some places more than once but really, it’s never the same experience twice and there’s always something to learn.
I was asked recently if I could maybe share what I’ve learned and I thought, meow, I’m still learning, myself. But I’m thinking maybe, it might be a good exercise for me to reflect on this, so I can better remember all these things, and maybe it’ll help other people to avoid making the same mistakes I did.
So, here we go in no particular order and I’ll try to keep this short.
Well, we can’t all be Monet.
I’m not talking about being able to paint water lilies, haystacks or steam engine steam (although what I’d give to be able to paint like that)—I’m talking about that barn he used to have to work in.
Right now, about the only dream I have left in life (for, as Eugenie says, life is an eternal shipwreck of our hopes) is to have a huge studio. Or well, even just an okay studio will do—just enough space to house all my junk (and the junk I make my junk with) and hopefully for me to make even more junk in.
I don’t need an entire barn (although that would be AWESOME); I'd be happy with even just a good-sized room.
Buuut like I said, we can’t all be Monet, and most of us have to make do with what we’ve got. And right now all I’ve got is more or less half a room about oh… eight feet square (a little less than two and a half metres)? My sister has the other eight feet, which I try my best not to encroach on even if she has a place of her own near where she works and is hardly ever here.
Last month I talked about six things my (or well most of mine, since one of them was somebody else’s) art teachers told me that weren’t true. That wasn’t to say I had lousy teachers; as I’ve said, I really like to think they were all just doing their best and hopefully they themselves didn’t think they were lying and believed what they said to be true.
That said, I figured this month I’d go into six things I was told in my artist’s formative years that not only turned out to be true, but turned out to be mantras, of sorts, for me. Or at least, these were things that have stayed with me (for good or ill) all throughout what passes for my career.
See if you’ve ever been told any of these things and whether you’ve swallowed them hook, line and sinker as I have.
I was never a particularly exemplary student—at art or any school, for that matter. But I flatter myself thinking that I did try, and for me trying meant swallowing everything the teacher said, hook, line and sinker.
Now that the jaded ol’ jillamonster has seen a bit of mileage, I now know that ‘it ain’t necessarily so’, what some of those well-meaning (I hope) maestros once told me.
And as a former art teacher myself (if I may make so bold as to call myself that), I never wanted to (for lack of a better word) impose anything on my students that I knew was more of a personal preference than a hard-and-fast rule. Plus certain things that I knew they had to figure out for themselves (for which all I could do really was to do my best to guide them towards whatever those were).
So why am I sharing six things my own teachers told me that I found to be not quite as black-and-white as they made out to be? It’s not because of some anarchist, rebellious, question authority x down with the status quo whatever or anything. Far from it.
It’s because I want you to know, if you’ve just started getting into art or taking classes or trying to find yourself artistically or something—that some things in art aren’t governed by what your teacher says. You need to find your own path, your own way of doing things, and that path is what makes what you create truly your own. Sounds pretty darn obvious, but there you go.
So after asking, and asking, and asking—I finally got me a show. Thank You, God. Thank you Dear Mama Mary. Thank you, Dear Saint Jude, Dear Saint Rita, Dear Saint Philomena. Dear Saint Claire, Dear Saint Matthew, Dear Saint Joseph. Thank you, Dear Saint Dymphna.
You know, I was told once back in school that you can pray all day long to pass the exams but if you don’t study… so I’m a big believer in ‘God helps those who help themselves’. But I’m just as big a believer in ‘you can plan and help yourself all you want, but unless God gives you the green light, then’…
Having said that, I really am just so very grateful!
But yes, I finally did get a show, and it really was a miracle because you know, galleries usually are booked a year in advance. So this, and the last one I was able to sneak into as a guest artist (‘not really a show’, but still) really were, literally, heaven-sent.
There really was a lot of asking involved, though, and that’s what I want to talk about today, mainly because of two things I’ve seen recently.
One was an episode of that online self-help show (‘help themselves’, remember?) where the host interviewed this famous writer who said he didn’t start making any money from his writing until he was well into his 50’s. Even now (even with all his best-selling books), he said he still has trouble getting projects off the ground, or even support from people close to him.
The other one I saw was an article about how this now super famous pop star had a Facebook page put up by her haters back in uni saying how she was never going to be famous, ever.
That singer told about how she started out living in the cheapest apartment she could find. The article described how she really put herself out there writing songs for other people and all that other stuff in the background before things started happening for her. When she made the acceptance speech for her award in the end, she said in a nutshell that it is a lot of hard work.