2020 was a rollercoaster of a year. With trying to figure out how to adjust to living through a world-wide pandemic, I am sure each and everyone of us learned new things about ourselves that we didn’t know before, I know I sure did. At the beginning of 2021, I wrote a post about what I learned from 2020 as an artist (artists I discovered, what I learned from others that helped me, and art supplies I discovered too), and things I wanted to keep doing in 2021. Here is a link to last year’s post for those of you who didn’t get to read it. what-ive-learned-from-2020-as-an-artist-and-what-i-want-to-keep-doing-in-2021.html This year (2022), I decided to write another post about what I learned from 2021 as an artist and what I hope to continue doing in 2022.
The first half of 2021, I spent my time in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. I was able to experience many things that helped me grow as an artist like volunteering at the Rahr-West West Art Museum and selling my art for the first time at the Manitowoc Farmer’s Market. I also tried to enter my art into several exhibitions inside and outside of America and took on a few watercolor commissions. During my time in Manitowoc I felt a huge sense of growth as an artist. I finally had put myself out there as an artist and it was fascinating to see what opportunities I came across.
Volunteering at the Rahr-West Art museum in Manitowoc, I was able to create an online tour of the museum for second grade students at local schools in Manitowoc (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jCwoMQq8vo), help move their sculptures, ceramics, and doll collection into new acid free boxes, and see what it’s like to prepare for an exhibition at a museum. I was able to experience many things, things that I would have never thought could be possible. Plus, I was able to use my love of art to help out the local community.
Growing & Learning
OPPORTUNITIES to Share
The second half of 2021, I moved back to my hometown in Pewaukee. During this time, one of my undergraduate professors (Professor Kristin Gjerdset at Wisconsin Lutheran College) invited me to talk to a group of students in her nature journaling class about my life after graduating from WLC and what its like to be a graduate student. It was the first time I had ever had this opportunity to speak in front of others about myself as an artist. Although I was quite nervous to speak in front of a group of students, it was also so much fun to talk about something that means the world to me.
Even though it seems like 2021 was full of huge accomplishments and wonderful experiences, I did go through a rough patch at the end of the year. Although I had been doing many things related to art like attending figure drawing sessions, sketching and reading about art, I still felt like my main focus of painting watercolor landscapes and my attitude towards painting changed a lot (and not necessarily for the better). That’s why in this post, I want to focus some of my points on what I learned about myself when overcoming fear, negative self-talk, and resistance when creating art.
So, let’s jump into it! Here are 5 main things I learned from 2021!
1. Don’t let fear stop you from making art
At the end of 2021, I was absolutely plagued with constant negative self-talk and fear. It was really getting to me after a month, because I wasn’t creating anything I was proud of and constantly comparing myself to other artists. I started giving in to my fears, procrastinating, and tried to find every reason possible not to pick up that paint brush. I was thinking too much about useless things that wouldn’t help me. Sound familiar? I am 100% percent certain we all go through it. It’s easy for me to tell you to not let fear stop you from creating art, but let me get into detail about what I learned from other artists and creatives about overcoming fear and what’s worked for me.
Last year, an artist that I started following on instagram (Michelle Wooderson) posted a few book recommendations for anyone whose been procrastinating or feeling resistance to their art. The books were “The War of Art” and “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield. So far, thanks to the local library I have been able to read “The War of Art” and “The Artist’s Journey” by this author…and let me tell you…there is so much useful information and inspiration in Pressfield’s books and they are very easy to read. For anyone who is struggling along on their artist’s journey or needing some motivation, these are a group of fantastic books to read.
Here are some of my notes on the artist’s journey. For me, taking notes is useful because it not only keeps me focused while reading but I can go back to these at any moment for encouragement and wisdom. I even have some sticky notes on my desk with the words self-motivate, self-validate, self-reinforce, and self-evaluate since I work at home and I am by myself most of the time. Whenever I read these sticky notes it also helps keep me motivated and doing these things every time I sit down to work.
In the end, it’s up to you whether you let fear stop you from reaching your full potential as an artist. But trust me, if you keep on going you are going to be on your journey towards self-discovery. You are going to find your muse, find your voice, and become who you were meant to be.
As Pressfield writes…its up to you. YOU decide. Do it or don’t do it.
Steven Pressfield’s Books on Amazon:
2. Listen to Podcasts
I know I talked about this last year, but listening to podcasts is a great way to learn about other artists or from other artists, to learn about art history, receive a creative pep talk, or just have something to listen to while on a walk or driving somewhere. This last year I discovered some new podcasts and favorites that I would like to share with you.
3. Routine is Important
This year, I discovered having a routine definitely makes a difference. It makes you more productive, less likely to procrastinate, and gives you a sense of accomplishment each day. This might look different for each of us and might change depending on our schedules, but for me having a routine is important.
Last year, I was looking for ways to enhance my productivity and change up my routine a little bit. I discovered Nathaniel Drew’s videos on YouTube last year and he has some interesting one’s where he tries out different famous people in history’s routines. Some examples of these are Picasso, Da Vinci, and Maya Angelo. Check out the links below. Maybe try one out?
4. Join Groups & Activities
I’ve noticed that joining a group of people who are doing the same thing as you can be inspiring, motivating, and open up new opportunities for you. Last year, I joined a group called Wisconsin Visual Artists (WVA for short), a group that seeks to connect, educate, and empower local Wisconsin Artists. The South-East section, which I am apart of, meets every first Wednesday of the month on Zoom. The first time I joined, they had local Wisconsin Artist, Harold E. Hansen give a talk about his artwork and career as an Artist. Other meetings we’ve talked about current opportunities to exhibit or monthly challenges the group gives its artists. Again, for me it's a great way to connect with other Artists and see what opportunities I can join in Wisconsin.
If you are looking for other groups to join, there is also a great app I discovered last year called Meetup. There are a wide variety of different groups that you can join in your local area. I have not been able to go to a meet up yet, but there are a number of different art groups on the app that I have joined that meet on a regular basis. Some of these groups also meet online, which makes it more easy to join some of these groups.
5. Take advantage of resources at your local library
Although there are so many great resources on the internet, the library is still a great place to go with it’s wide variety of resources, even for artists. Last year, I discovered this amazing magazine at the library called Artists Magazine, which comes out bi-monthly. Since discovering this magazine, I have discovered many inspiring artists, and helpful tips and tricks to help me along on my journey as an Artist. For me, when I first read through previous editions of this magazine, I was also able to discover many other possible ways that I could document my travel sketches and studies like the pictures below.
So, there you have it! These are 5 things that I did as an Artist in 2021 and what I would like to keep doing in 2022. I hope these things can also inspire you and help you in 2022. First off, don’t let fear stop you from making art. Be creative and share it with the world. Have fun and do what brings you joy. Second, listen to podcasts. They are full of so much wonderful wisdom but also can be a way to look at things from a different prospective. They can also be a wonderful companion when you go on a walk! Next, don’t forget that routine is important. Even if you are not a routine kind of person, how are you going to prepare yourself each time before you create? Second to last, join groups and activities in your local community. There are so many groups that can help you grow and can be a source of inspiration. Lastly, take advantage of the resources at your local library. There are so many fascinating magazines and books at the library for the artist in you. Thanks for reading and wish you all the best in 2022!
Until next time,