Thursday, January 01, 2015

7 Tips for a New Start in Art in 2015

Do you start the New Year with the intention of starting over and being different?

Or maybe just clearing out the clutter and the "deadwood" and creating a clean slate?

This post is about trying to summarise helpful things to do when starting over. To my mind they're truisms which apply at any time of year to anybody - but it doesn't take too much thought to see how they also apply to artists starting a new year.

This is also for a friend who's just told me her 'big news' which means major change lies ahead!  She says I always give good advice.........

A "timeout for reflection" pastel drawing on a Greek island
cropped from a larger work drawn plein air in a morning
- now featured in the introduction to my book

7 Tips for a New Start in Art in 2015

1.  You're never too old to start doing something new

Says the woman who wrote a her first book as she approached her 60th Birthday!

One of the things I find most inspiring about artists is seeing how many got serious about their art and 'making it' as an artist after a lot of the things which are seen as traditional achievements of a woman were done and dusted.

You've had your kids, they've gone to school, they've sat their exams, they've gone to Uni, your best friend and/or hubby just became a total toerag, your dependant parent has just died - so what next?

It's absolutely never too late to start doing something different. It's never too late to become the person you need to be.

It's never too late to become the artist you want to be.

2. An enforced change is as good as a rest

Those of us fortunate to live long enough often learn a few things along the way - such as
  • well considered action plans for our future can be obliterated in an instant by something you have absolutely no control over.  
  • sometimes the constant you thought you had in your life forever suddenly disappears and you need to start thinking about what to do next.
  • Just as a marriage can suddenly break down, or a child or a parent or a partner dies, or you get made redundant, artists too can suddenly find themselves without a gallery or any viable income streams. 
I've learned over time that what often looks bleak to start with frequently turns out to be something of a different colour when I've got over the massive jolt to my life.

More or less all the things which have happened to me - which felt like near disasters at the time - changed, with the benefit of hindsight, to becoming some of the best things that ever happened to me.

That's because the jolt out of my comfortable rut got me thinking seriously about what I really wanted to do, what I had to do and how to achieve what I wanted out of the rest of my life.

You won't get much rest if given an almighty jolt - self-imposed or otherwise - but you will feel really reinvigorated as you get back to the basics of being the person you were meant to be.

You also need to be really good at self-maintenance if starting something new so remember to make sure you sleep enough - and change in a positive direction will surely happen!

3. Be clear about your goals and aims

This is akin to knowing where you are going so you know which direction to head in when you run into the stop signs!

When going in new directions, it can sometimes feel as if maybe we're not reading the signs right. We can end up in an unexpected place.

I've always been one of those people with a built-in satnav which means I can happily navigate and drive across country just on the basis of what feels like the right direction.  As importantly my inner satnav also tells me when I'm heading off in the wrong direction!

Being clear about what you want to do and where you want to be helps enormously when making decisions on the hoof!

4. Listen to your heart and intuition

Your heart and intuition often tell you a lot about the place you're at and the people you need to trust.

It's good to be positive and to think the best of people - but it's also sensible to be wary - so.....
  • Don't take promises of what will happen in the future at face value - check out the credibility of whoever is making the promises - including galleries and people 'who can make things happen'
  • If you start to enjoy success as an artist be aware that one of the downsides can involve those who have hitherto been your friends or close to you 'cutting up rough'. They may be jealous. They may try to stifle your activities or control them. 
Try seeing things from the perspective of others - work out what a change of in your direction can mean for them as well as you.

I know I very much value being able to tell when people may not be acting in my best interests. Listen to your heart and intuition and then use the left side of your brain to resolve the situation.

5.  Clean out the clutter

It's much easier to see what's possible if you don't get distracted by the clutter in your studio - or your life.

Clearing a space to get started on a project brings a really great feeling of being able to see what is possible.

However it's also helpful to look at what you are doing and who you are with as well as what you're tripping over on a regular basis in the place where you make your work!

I remember vividly one year deciding that, in the second half of my life, I wasn't going to waste any more time on being with people I didn't like - irrespective of who they are! My priority was spending my time on things I liked doing - which included enjoying the company of people I liked!  I have to say that was one decision I've never ever regretted.

6. You plan to fail if you fail to plan

This is my other half's favourite mantra - but then he's always been a top notch manager at making things happen and getting results.

He's also right. Being able to map out the route to where you need to be helps you sort out what needs doing by when.

It's not so much the document you produce - whether it's a proper business plan or a grand version of a "to do" list - so much as the actual process of making yourself sit and think about what's involved in what you want to do and how to make it happen. It's a rehearsal in your head - which you translate to paper.

Then you give it to your best bud and ask them to pick holes in it - so as you can make a better one!

7. Keep an eye on the money

It behoves me as an ex accountant to remind you that those who make money are those that know its value - and who understand where it comes from, where it goes to - and whether or not they are making a profit.

In a past life I've reviewed many organisations which were in dire financial straits. Almost always the person who should have known what was happening didn't have a clue where the money came from or what it got spent on. They often behaved in a passive fashion and didn't try to get to grips with the numbers - often because they were frightened of them. Or they trusted somebody else to be "in charge of the money" and then found that their trust had been misplaced.

I cannot recommend too much that YOU should always be in control of your funds if you don't want to give yourself financial nightmares.

You can make a lot from a little if you know how money works and where it goes.

I recommended to one artist this year to try and have show where the money lives - which she duly did and, as a result, sold all her paintings.

See if you can improve your financial outlook in 2015!


Unknown said...

This is a great post at this time of review and revision. Happy New Year.

Hedera said...

Excellent advice Katherine - many thanks!!

Jana Bouc said...

#3 is my focus for 2015. Great list!

Ewen MacDonald watercolouristanbul said...

Very encouraging especially no.1.... There is nothing like NewYear for making one feel too old....

Making A Mark said...

I'm glad it helped Ewen - being the wrong side of 60 I know what you mean!

Making A Mark said...

Thanks Sue, Hedera and Jana!

shevaun said...

You DO give the best advice. This is a brilliant post and I really love that painting too. Thanks Katherine!

Unknown said...

I'd add to not fear passion. Paying it safe and recklessness are roads that lead to mediocrity and failure.

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