Happy Places


As I get my new rescue horse settled and acclimated to her new environment I think of making this a happy, comfortable  place for her.  She deserves it.  Everyone needs a happy place.

I have two places that consistently put me into a good mood.  The barn and my studio.  I can fiddle away hours and it feels like time just flies by.



So Many Distractions in the Arts District!

I have expanded my space at the gallery and now have one studio for showing artwork and one for painting.  I consider my working studio to be ideal.  I have a big window in which I can look out and see the world (and into the big windows of other artists working in the arts district) and a door to shut out distractions.  I am loving it!!  The painting vibes have been wonderful.

Sometimes though it can a struggle at times creating art.  The ideas and inspiration are always there.  The right space is not.  On one hand creating art is solitary.  You need quiet alone time to create.  On the other hand, quiet alone time doesn't aways fit in with an active family, tight work schedules nor does it fit into neat little boxes of time or mental head space.  Too much quiet alone time can be lonely and unstimulating if you let it.  You need interaction with the 'world' but interaction invites distractions.  See the cycle?

I've been reading a book titled The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.  It is a good book for where I am at professionally.  I've now crossed over from creating art for 'me' and am doing it for 'them'.  More or less.  For a couple years now art I do 'for me' has taken a back seat to art I do for my work.   I have a waiting list for commissions and that is how I make the bulk of my income.  I sell thru my studio but often people come in, see my work and commission me to paint something they want.  Which is fine- wonderful in fact.  I am always flattered and honored when that happens.   I try to keep an inventory of art in my studio and keep up with commissions.  The focus is more on what others want or the studio needs rather than what I feel like painting.



My inner artist though often feels like a 5th grader dragging his feet to do his homework.  My inner artist somehow thinks art should be 'play' but what line of work is always play?  No one has a job like that.

The reality is I taught myself how to paint by experimenting and I continue to learn by experimenting (which is an adult term that means 'play'.) My inner artist is terribly bored with doing anything the same way.  My inner artist is always ready to move on to something new and different.  When I am painting a cat she wants to be painting a horse.  When I've done a few horses in a row she wants to paint some figures.  When I am painting details she wants to paint abstract.  She likes to let the art develop on the canvas... completely right brained.... no tracing images, no photoshopping to test color palettes or compositions ... no 'formula' or Step 1, Step 2, Step 3.  I have to be consistent when I am painting according to what someone else saw and liked.  I can't give them a landscape when they want a flower!



She wants a free rein or free reign.  Either way that just can't happen without some balance.

So I am reading this book wondering how to lasso this energy and creativity and give it the direction and discipline it needs.

My horse experience is helping me to reframe this idea in a way I can identify with.  Horses are a lot like this.  They are power, grace, and strength wrapped up in a bundle of wild instincts.  When working with horses even though they can be tame and docile the 'wildness' is there under the right conditions.





This is not a hopeless situation, though.  Horses do learn to accept riders (usually) and accept direction and containment and even begin to view their man-made homes as a 'happy place'.  By nature, a wild horse would never choose to confine itself in a small dark closed up space (stall) but domesticated horses have been known to run into stalls during a barn fire because they are frightened and associate the stall with safety and rewards. 

So this is a long way of saying I will begin to 'balance' out my work by allowing my unruly, easily distracted inner artist a 'daily painting' again.  I will also bring in the discipline of regular work on my commissions by dividing my time between the two.  Fair is fair, right?  If I have 6 hours to paint in a day 3 to one and 3 to another.  And now since this is in writing I will be accountable (or embarrassed) to all of you to let the 'experimenting' continue as well as the regular, day to day work of commissions.



I think this will do two things-- allow me to continue to grow, learn and evolve as an artist ... and get some work done!  My main reason at this point to be profitable rather than just paint for myself is to keep me in horses!





My newest rescue looks VERY promising!  It is likely we'll need a new saddle, tack and a multitude of other things as she evolves and progresses too.  I will share more about her soon.  She will be in an upcoming, national horse magazine.  I did an interview the other day.... but you'll have to wait for details!  Time to head to the studio and make this all happen!  :)

Sue Steiner
animal, equine, figurative and people artist


  

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