As a working artist, I can’t begin to express the monumental importance, of making art for no reason at all.
Making art that’s just for you has such a different energy compared with art that’s made for a commission, or art that you know you’re going to sell and comes with the pressure of thinking of Instagram captions and marketing techniques.
Of course I love all that stuff too, and I see my role as a business owner as just as important as my role as an artist, yet it’s so easy to get caught up in product photography and SEO and growth targets that I sometimes forget what brought me to art in the first place.
Particularly when your art career is just beginning, there’s so much pressure to make consistent progress and to seize every opportunity to grow your business. But actually, this is the stage where you need to nurture your creative practice, and make time to create without judgement or expectation.
Whilst I was on residency earlier this year at Stiwdio Maelor, for the first time in a long time, I remembered what it was like to make art in full ‘flow’.
It must’ve been the first or second night I was there, and I can remember that I couldn’t sleep. Like, at all.
My legs and arms were aching from the amount of walking I’d done with a huge backpack. The house had no wifi. I didn’t have any films downloaded, or books to read.
Thank fuck for the Spotify offline playlist!
Rather than staring at the wall all night I decided to embrace my involuntarily nocturnal routine. Using the individual studio I was lucky enough to have been provided with, I set up a lamp, cup of tea, a block of clay and my bluetooth speakers, and made sculpture after bowl after dish, until the clay was all used up.
I soon forgot about the stress of not being able to sleep, and was reminded of how, when I’m painting, sculpting or otherwise making art, time passes 100 x quicker.
I made the female figure pictured at the top of this post, with no prior intention to do so. I just made it intuitively, and I don’t think I would have had the inclination to if I was working during my normal daily routine, with emails and notifications and to-do lists.
The best part about this art-making session, was that I knew I had no intention of selling any of the stuff I ended up making. I didn’t have a project or goal in mind, which offloaded all the usual pressure.
The best thing you can do for your art practice, if you’re feeling blocked or just a bit stagnant, is to pull yourself out of your normal routine - switch off your phone, forget about what you’e ‘supposed’ to be doing (emails, expanding your portfolio blah blah blah) and just make something. Anything. Let your intuition take the lead.