This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.
This is not a sentiment that sells greeting cards, but sometimes, you've just gotta get away from the people you love.
And if you're trying to paint, or sculpt, or write, or in some other way create an artwork that you plan to market, this is seriously, seriously necessary.
As I keyboard this, I am in the public library, surrounded by computer-using patrons ranging from the 11-year-old boy who is saving the galaxy from zombies (homework, obviously), to the under-twenty couple draped over one another in a single chair, to the irritated woman who is either working on her overdue taxes or trying to figure out her shipping options at Amazon. Of course, she's also squeezed right next to the two people who function as one.
Lest you think that I am distracted, be aware that I do not know any of these humanoids personally (for which I am profoundly grateful), and none of them is going to ask me 1) what we're eating for dinner, 2) who is responsible for making it tonight, 3) which animal ate a hole in the sock, 4) why the mail hasn't come yet, 5) who left the milk on the counter, or 6) how long it's been since the dog's been put out. Neither will any of them exclaim that the cat is using the plant pot, or slam the door on the way out, on the way in, and on the way out again.
Yes, I work at home.
So do you, I imagine, if you paint or sculpt, and whether or not it's your day job, you probably have stories of your own.
Now frequently our household loved ones are our best supporters, our cheering section, our sounding boards, our confidantes, and our sturdy shoulders against to lean, but at the same time, simply by virtue of their breathing the same air with us, they can also be . . .
So every so often, I get away from them.
As a rule, I like being in the hub of things, preferring not to isolate myself from humanity and the dog kingdom, and I'm pretty good at looking people in the eye while maintaining 60 words per minute, but some days I've had enough, and I find that retreating to a public arena allows me an altered working environment and fresh distractions than what I am accustomed to.
I guess you'd say that I write, en plein aire.
Face it, reality is, unless you isolate yourself in a separate building, without phone, without windows, and with a crocodile-infested moat in front of the door, you will be unable to count on blocks and chunks of pristinely quiet uninterrupted time. So Gauguin ran off to Tahiti to get away from it all; he still dealt with . . . um . . . distractions. Someone will call; someone will burst into your inner sanctum; someone will hover outside the door at the edge of your peripheral vision.
How much this happens, however, can be controlled without running off to Tahiti, as long as you assert your right to connect with your inner dictator:
1) Accept that you are an artist, and that you need time and space to create. Once you have gotten this through your own brain, drive it into the brains of the people around you. Tell them, point blank, when you want to be left alone, and for how long. Then pray.
2) If you are trying to make money or a potential living by your art, be extra firm, just like tofu. Although it takes awhile to turn a profit, it won't get done if you don't have a product. Believe in yourself and in what you're doing, and others will follow. But they won't lead the way.
3) Carve out your space. It may not be a separate barn studio, complete with locking doors, like the Norwegian Artist enjoys. (He also deals with goats peering through the window as he works.) It may be a desk in the piano room, eight feet from the front door (Home Office Space -- the Final Frontier). The key thing is that it is YOURS. If you have small children, YOURS may have to be packed away in a cardboard box at the end of every session, but don't feel guilty that you're staking a claim. Just make sure to store it out of reach.
4) Be realistic. If you share living space with anyone other than a goldfish, you will be interrupted. Discuss with the people in your life your expectations and theirs, and communicate. Be willing to give -- and take.
5) Shoot the phone. Honestly, why do so many people choose to carry one of these things around with them everywhere?