Challenging Yourself

Recently I have been pretty busy! I had two art shows in August (solo exhibition and an event at Hachland Hill, which was featured on Business Insider!), I will be in the MBA Art Show this weekend, Frothy Monkey in 12 South in October, Fort Houston's show on October 7th, and just started my part time job at Tinney Contemporary downtown as their new gallery associate, which has been a dream. I’ve already met artists, collectors, curators, other gallery owners, and am making really valuable connections in the art scene here. Not to mention am learning so much from the two incredible women who own and direct the gallery. My dream is to own a studio gallery and I am learning from the best! Now that my weeks are much fuller than they were, I’ve noticed it’s harder to block out studio time. My schedule still lends itself to a pretty decent amount of free time that I need to utilize with painting, but whenever I finish a series, I sometimes procrastinate getting back to painting (or drawing). It’s not because I am at a loss of ideas of things to paint, because my mind and sketchbook are filled with ideas for my next painting, but because it’s kind of scary. After I create a series I am proud of, getting back in the swing of things by starting on something new or different is kind of like going back to square 1. I know musicians experience the same feeling after completing an album or a song, they have a million ideas for songs, but procrastinate getting back to the studio. 

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I think in order to grow creatively, improve your craft, and stay productive you need to constantly challenge yourself. In order to do that experiment with different mediums, subject matters, etc. Something I find beneficial is attending the art crawl here in Nashville every month. Every first Saturday of the month, galleries here open their doors to new exhibits. Being completely surrounded by incredible, local artwork at all the galleries here is simultaneously inspiring and intimidating. I love reading artists’ statements and seeing how some of my favorite artists’ styles or processes change over time. I think in order to stay inspired you need to truly experience the competition, not just see it. Understand why artists use certain mediums, see what textures can be made using certain styles, and watch how people respond to different works. A lot of artists argue that because of Instagram and Facebook and the amount of art that is constantly in our faces now, it’s hard to create something completely organically and not be overly influenced by what others are making. I have a real fear of creating contrived and derivative work, and I want to be clear that there is a line between being inspired and being a fraud. There's also a line between playing to your strengths and still being original, and challenging yourself. I know I’ve talked about it a lot, but I guess it's because it’s something a lot of us struggle with daily; comparing ourselves and what we do or make to what others’ are doing or making. 

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Getting back to my point of experimenting with different mediums and challenging yourself, here are some things that I do! I sometimes give myself assignments that I got in college. I will draw with my eyes closed, or use only one paint color, or change mediums halfway through a painting, or make a painting based on a word, or switch from abstract to attempting photorealism. I also started building my own frames, which was a real challenge at first, but now is incredibly beneficial and a huge money saver! I build them out of Fort Houston, and if you live in Nashville and like making things, this is your place. There are a million ways to challenge yourself. This isn’t news to anyone creative, but I think once you are depending on your creative pursuits financially, it’s easy to fall into patterns of making the same thing or using the same style because you know it sells and it’s comfortable. I’d love to hear about what other creatives, who maybe even read this blog, think about this. What do you do to challenge your work? What role does social media play in what you create? I am always eager to hear from other artists and creatives and start some conversations. Working from home and in a solo studio can be pretty lonely so feel free to reach out to this loner artist with any thoughts you have!

Oh, hey! Speaking of other creatives, my parents and brother run a pasta sauce company called Grandads Gravy. In case you haven’t tried it, it’s delicious. 2017 Ordering is OPEN through tonight (September 11, 2017) at midnight! So get those orders in and help support a local business that is close to my heart. Order Here >>

P.S. (Last thing I promise) Just a reminder that if you are at all interested in collaborating with me and want to send me something you are passionate about, whether it’s your own art website, small business, products you use, recipes etc. Email me! I’d love to help support any creative endeavors anyone has and am always looking for blog content. K gr8, T Out.