I think the biggest gift of this year’s Create & Incubate Retreat (aside from the priceless connections and community), was coming back to my painting practice, which I’d allowed to lapse while I focused on clutterbusting my studio and rejuvenating my writing practice.
(Being a passion pluralite is hard sometimes!)
At the retreat I had the luxury of painting for hours each day. Now that I’m home, I do not have that luxury, and it’s all-too easy to slip back into not painting at all…
Because I’m a passion pluralite, I even have a genuine “excuse”: I have lots of creative passions, and although I do get to do all of them, I don’t get to do all of them at the same time.
I have to pick and choose.
Even so, even though I can honestly say I’m doing my creative thing even on days when I’m not painting, the truth is, I really want painting to be a regular part of my life.
I get to change my mind about that anytime, but right now, I want to be making art in my Creative Sandbox, and doing so regularly. I want painting to occupy one of the burners on my passion pluralite stovetop.
The retreat helped me remember how important painting is to me, and how good it makes me feel!
So today I decided to dedicate at least 15 minutes of my daily morning work sessions to PAINTING! This morning I “made a mess in the Creative Sandbox” with the 4×6 work-in-progress shown above, and it felt GREAT!
Alas, this means less writing time, but that’s the hard reality of life: we have to pick and choose.
And again, I get to change my mind anytime. 🙂
I feel the weight of my choices every day. Back in October I committed to a crazy, year-long project, 3x5x365, in which I fill a 3×5 card to a one-word prompt every day, post the pic here, and send it out in a newsletter.
I confess I’m often tempted to quit. Often.
And I could quit. I have the right to change my mind. But I’m sticking with it for two reasons:
1) I want to experience following through on a challenge for a full year. Sure, I have feelings about it now, but those feelings have ebbed and flowed. I have no way of knowing what it feels like to stick with something like this for a year until I’ve done it. So I’ll do it.
2) The feedback I’ve gotten from a handful of people for whom my efforts are meaningful. Not many people email me about 3x5x365, but the few who have really inspire me to keep going. When you know you’re making a difference, it motivates you to stick with it.
Yesterday Cory and I interviewed Jolie Guillebeau for the Creative Insurgents Podcast (watch for that episode to air in August, or better yet, subscribe in iTunes [and be sure to leave a review!]). I was so inspired by her story, and by the 100-day painting challenges she set for herself.
With an initial mailing list of only 40-some-odd friends and family, Jolie started emailing a pic of a new painting every day for 100 days. The painting on day 1 was priced at just $1; day 2 was $2; day 3 was $3, etc.
It doesn’t seem like much, but in 100 days Jolie had not just made 100 new paintings, she’d sold over 80 of them, earned $5,000, and grown her mailing list to 270 — that’s like 6+ times its original size!
When she finished with this original 100-day challenge, she set herself another one, this time pricing the paintings at “Name Your Own Price.” And when that challenge was done, she took on another one — each challenge carefully designed to shatter a particular self-installed glass ceiling. This ongoing experiment, quite brilliantly, also helped her learn how to price her work.
In the four+ years since she started, Jolie has painted over 2,000 paintings, and is now earning a sustainable income as an artist.
Part of me really wants to take a page from Jolie’s book.
Back in 2011/2012 I had an almost-daily painting newsletter, my not-quite-daily ArtSpark, and part of me is tempted to bring it back from its hiatus. I’m tempted to take on new creative challenges, and to try crazy selling experiments, like Jolie’s.
And I also know that adding one more thing to my already very-full plate is not in alignment with my other goal of excellent self-care and self-compassion.
So I will mull and process, and perhaps when Project 3x5x365 is done I’ll take on a different (shorter!) challenge.
Oh, and meanwhile, to see process pics of whatever I’m painting, subscribe to my Instagram feed here, or follow my Facebook page.
And for some behind-the-scenes views of last weekend’s retreat, click here.
Now go get creating!
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
I for one L.O.V.E. the 365 challenge…some of those small thoughts have struck me as being so profound…
I don’t come tell you often, and I think “interaction” is an issue with my online presence…I think being a mom, homeschooling a gal with a learning disability, volunteering for a couple of organizations and trying to do art are things that take priority over online interaction…hmmmm. I identify with the “renaissance” multi-faceted, multi-talented entrepreneur that you are and I gain ideas from you all the time on how to direct all these flows! I love Jolie’s small steps with her artistic experiments…I think I will employ those as well…
Melissa Dinwiddie says
Well thanks! Just goes to show that you never know how your work will touch people — another argument to SHARESHARESHARE!!! 🙂
I totally understand the online interaction thing. After all, the time we spend interacting online is time not spent making art, writing our stories, dancing, singing, etc. My online interactions feed me, BUT just like any other form of nourishment, there’s a line between “just the right amount” and “too much.” Mindful indulgence is the key in all cases. 🙂
I appreciate your taking the time to leave this comment, cj! 🙂