Do Less, Make More.
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
One of the things that has fascinated me most about art over the last few years is how powerful it is when we create space. I find the less I do, the more I make. For me, and my students, it’s about creating space:
- Physical space in which to create
- Mental space that is dedicated to dreaming about art
- Time in which to create slowly
And I also love creating space on the page.
While fullness can be emotional and beautiful, space can be equally so. The white spaces have so much to say. They speak to me about the space I make for art in general. It reminds me to give my work room to breathe.
At an art retreat I attended several years ago, the facilitator suggested that we invite a sense spaciousness to our weekend. I loved this invitation, and I’ve carried it with me since, in both my art and teaching.
For me spaciousness means that I don’t need to rush, or push, or fret – but rather allow … and watch with curiosity as things unfold. Of course I mess this up sometimes and get frustrated or pressure myself, but when I realize what’s happened, I come back to slowing down and creating space, and things always improve.
Creating space in my art work means giving each element a sense of honor. It honors the process of exploration, and the inspiration from nature that brought me there. Space gives the subject of each page an opportunity to speak clearly – unencumbered by other ideas. When I work this way, I feel less pressure to produce, and have more fun exploring.
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We can create space for a different kind of practice. We don’t need to create for hours and hours a day if that isn’t possible or isn’t nourishing. We can work small, create simple things sometimes, work in layers and shifts, and let the work build over time.
Creating large work, pressuring yourself to spend hours in the studio, thinking you need to fill every space – these are pressures that keep many of us from making anything at all. (Tricks of the inner critic and a society obsessed with busyness.) I think it’s part of what drives many artists to jam pack their pieces such that the subject gets lost and they feel frustrated with their work. There is an easier, more generous way to work.
Make space for:
- Creating more often in shorter bursts
- Keeping less materials in your studio so there’s space to begin
- Moving slowly and letting things unfold
- Inviting imperfection into your art – what walks in along with the mistakes is wild, beautiful, uniquely you, and will keep you coming back for more.
How are you creating space in your art practice? Will you tell me about it in the comments?