This Post is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for
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I enjoy swimming laps 2 to 3 times a week. When I first started, I was frustratingly slow and I needed many rests. It was almost embarrassing to have swimmers twice my age lap me over and over. Yet, I had made goals and over time I improved. I reached several milestones and would then set my sights on new goals. I wonít be winning any swim competitions any time soon, but I look back on where I started and I see tremendous improvement.
This past week, however, I have had a cold. Prior to my cold, I had a few conflicts which prevented me from swimming. So this morning was my first time swimming laps in a couple of weeks. I noticed a marked difference in my performance. I could not swim as far nor as quickly as I had just two weeks ago. Granted, I may still not be totally recovered from my bout with the little virus, but it is also true that when you stop exercising for a period of time, you lose ground. The longer the absence, the more is lost.
The same holds true with art.
Neglecting Your Art Results in Lost Ability
Perhaps you have devoted years to your art. Maybe itís been only a few months. Donít risk losing the progress you have made by neglecting your art for a period of time. You must continue to work at your art or you will lose it bit by bit. This is true of both the technical skills and creativity. You must work on both constantly, just like exercise.
Have a Productive Routine
Also, just like with physical exercise, the rate of improvement will depend upon your routine. Do you spend adequate time? Do you practice specific exercises to work on certain areas which need improvement? Do you have somewhere to do it? Is the set-up hindering your ability? Are you giving it your all? Do you push yourself? Or do you just dabble here and there once in a while?
Even When You Donít Want To
Some mornings I didnít want to swim because I wasnít up to it or I didnít feel like it. But when I made myself do it, I found that I got into it within a short time. Even if I didnít get all the way into it, I felt better afterwords and it helped me maintain what I had worked so hard for.
Likewise, you may have those days when you just canít find your muse or you just arenít in the mood. But if you just make yourself do something, you will find that you will usually get into it and your creative juices will begin to flow. At least do something related to your art.
Conquer Your Excuses
There are many, many reasons why we put off doing things. Why do you neglect your art? What prevents you from getting into your studio? Identify what obstacles you have and then set up a plan to conquer them. If art is truly a priority in your life, you owe it to yourself to let it take its rightful place. Donít use excuses. Conquer them. Rearrange your life to make art a more prominent part of it.
If you truly want to make progress with your art; if you truly want to improve; you must set aside time to work on it. You must make those times productive. We could all use more time. But consider everything you do in the day. EVERYTHING. Iíll bet you could find things that occupy your time that arenít as important to you as art. Some tasks you cannot remove from your to-do list right now. But many can be removed. Artist Scott Christensen wrote:
Donít use [time] as an excuse! I really advanced as a painter when I was ďdistractedĒ by another job! I taught in a public school and coached two sports. Athletics took up most of my time on weekends and my family was very important to me, but I painted.
I want to take away your excuse by giving you one simple truth: we all have the same amount of time at our disposal. How we use that time is very important! (Note: I cut this quote out of a magazine several years ago. I wish I knew which magazine, so I could give proper credit. I want to say that it was International Artist, but I may be wrong.)
ďYes,Ē you say, ďbut my situation is differentÖĒ STOP! That is another excuse! Donít use excuses. If art is truly important to you, you will find the time. If everything else on your list is more important, then focus on them, not art. Either way, donít use excuses! Yes, I am being blunt. Sometimes we need a kick in the behind. Sometimes we need to hear it like it is. Do you want to improve in your art? Do you want to maintain what you have worked years to achieve? Then make your art a priority.