Category: New Work

7 tips I use to get going when feeling unmotivated

Brunette girl with head in hand feeling unmotivated

Are you feeling unmotivated and don’t know how to get going? So was I. My days had settled into a routine. I got up, did the crossword, ate breakfast, then head to my studio, prepared dinner, watched some television, and finally off to bed. With the COVID restrictions on traveling, visiting with friends, or going out for entertainment, I saw a “sameness” with my days. I needed a way on how to get out of my rut. (See my ‘7 tips to getting unstuck’ below.)

I decided to shake things up by changing my art medium. Dusting off the oil paints (which I had rarely touched in over a decade), I considered what I could do. A friend wanted me to paint a yellow rose as a gift from his recently engaged daughter. For me, trying to paint a realistic rose with oils was totally out of my comfort zone!

It was an exciting challenge, and it took a while to get comfortable painting with oils again, but I pushed through. Enjoying the unique qualities of the paint, I reveled in its creamy texture and longer working time. Experimenting with this different medium gave me new ideas for my current mixed media work and reinvigorated my studio practice.

Yellow rose oil painting motivates artist to paint again

“That’s good and well for you, but I’m not an artist. So how does this help me?” you say. The key is to make some changes to your routine. Try one or all seven of my tips to revive and energize you to get going again.

Seven pieces of advice to get you unstuck and motivated

Change your routine by talking to someone new

If you’re only speaking with your family and a few friends, you’re not getting enough stimulation. Try calling up an old friend or connecting via Facebook to cross-country pal. Even striking up a conversion with your grocery store cashier will prompt a change in your routine.

Kindle your curiosity by trying something new

How about that new chocolate cake recipe you’ve wanted to try (and eat)? Or that 500 piece jigsaw puzzle that’s still in the box? Intense focus on a single activity such as cooking or doing puzzles in proven to reduce stress.

Being spontaneous can activate your motivation

Instead of eating lunch while working on your computer, count the birds you see outside your window. If you always take a morning walk, try roller-skating around the neighborhood instead. Make a point to make one small change to your routine each day. Say yes to new experiences!

Exercise outside to enhance creativity

Surrounding yourself with nature has a positive impact on the body and enhances creativity. Psychologists found that backpackers scored 50 percent higher on creativity tests after spending a few days outside without their electronics. Additionally, exercise improves blood flow and memory; it changes the brain to enhance thinking skills.

three roller skaters with old fashion skates

Start a new habit to motivate change

Good habits are the key to staying motivated. Newton’s First Law is ‘objects in motion tend to stay in motion.’ Or more clearly said, once you start, the easier it is to continue moving forward. Habits don’t have to be significant. Consistently completing a small task has the best chance for tremendous results over time. Maybe yoga first thing in the morning. Or reading before bed instead of scrolling on your phone.

Rewarding yourself for positive behavior can motivate you

Reward yourself for your good behavior (like passing on that third glass of wine) and treat yourself that new nail polish you’ve been eyeing instead. Tie your reward to your new consistent habit. Have you been regular in your morning journaling this month? Buy yourself to a fancy fountain pen. Brought your lunch to work every day this week? Put it toward an upcoming vacation you’ve dreamed of going on.

Just making a plan can get you unstuck

Simply having a plan, whether you end up following it, will help you feel confident and inspired. Our brains are scared of the unknown and tend to freeze up without a plan. Imagining the first step will make it easier to move forward. Plus, making a plan will give you something to look forward to and help keep you motivated.

Too stressed to come up with a plan, I’ve got some tips to help you. Read more at How to be creative when stressed or under pressure.

In summary, if you need help getting motivated, try a new recipe, run on a different path, or call a friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Or even pull out the oil paints and give it a go. I’m rooting for you!

You can see more great creativity tips by signing up for my monthly newsletter.  Sure, I could use some tips!

Related posts

5 foolproof tips for a less stressful holiday

How to foster creativity when stressed or under pressure

blond woman looking stressed and under pressure

Do stress and deadline pressures have your creativity freezing up? Let me share six tips that fostered my creativity and got me back to my studio to start painting and having fun again. I hope that will work for you too.

The dilemma of the creative process (for me) is that I impose pressure on myself to make impressive, or at least good, artwork. I worry my paintings must be meaningful and pleasing, and if they aren’t, then self-doubt, fear and discouragement paralyze me from working. This self-reposed pressure was putting a lot of stress on my creativity and keeping me from painting. I needed to adjust my thinking and art practice to break this negative cycle and get me back to the joy of making art.

botanical collage paintings by Kathy Ferguson Art

In many ways, the COVID quarantine has been a positive experience for me. When the virus rates escalated in New York City almost overnight, there was speculation that Manhattan would close its borders and travel outside the borough would be restricted. The thought of getting trapped in a city had me fleeing that very day to Florida with nary an art supply in my suitcase. With no upcoming shows or commissions to finish, and few supplies to work with, I decided to let my self-imposed pressure go and just play around with the limited materials I had available (acrylics and junk mail).

I started small, making simple 6″ x 6″ painted collages. Working on up to 12 paintings at a time, I skipped around between them when I got stuck. I let myself step back and make work that didn’t need to be good. And you know what happened? My creativity came back. I was excited to go to my studio every day and see what would happen next. After finishing forty-two of these “Tidbits” paintings, I was ready to move on to something more substantial.

 

Mounting blue and white collage works on cradled wood panels

Are you feeling stressed or just unmotivated?

First, take a minute to decide how you are really feeling? Are you stressed because your kids are constantly interrupting your workflow, and you have a gallery exhibit coming up that you’re not close to ready for it? Or is it that you are feeling uninspired and lacking in motivation? For these who just need some inspiration, read my advice 7 tips I use to foster creativity when feeling unmotivated to get you up and running again.  The rest of you, keep reading.

6 tips to spark creativity when pressure is weighing you down

So the next time you’re stressed or under pressure, try these other ideas to spark your inspiration and creativity.

Stop forcing creativity

First, stop trying to “make yourself” come up with something creative. Instead of telling yourself, “I must make something great now,” instead let yourself “play around with some ideas.” You need to feel in a safe space of non-judgment and expectation to be open creatively.

Take a break from the problem

Step away for the problem and let your sub-conscience work while you go for a walk, bake a cake, or fold the laundry. The less these activities use your mind, the more available it will be to create new solutions.

illustration of blond girl making a smoothie

Focus on a single idea

While doing one of these activities, do a little brainstorming on a single idea. Go deep and think of every good, bad, and weird idea that you can. Don’t critique these ideas; you are going for quantity. Give your thoughts some space to roam and let creativity work its magic. Breaking it down into small steps will help you chip away at the problem.

Go get inspiration on Pinterest

Are you still stuck? Try looking at other people’s work. I’m not suggesting copying them, but sometimes seeing what others have done will trigger new ideas or approaches to your problem.  

Reach out to another artistic business owner

You don’t have to go it alone. Why not collaborate with another? You can pick their brain or work together. The process of talking through ideas can stimulate new thoughts and take you in a new direction.

Creativity takes time

If all else fails, perhaps you just need time. Give yourself time to mull on it. Studies show that the brain continues working while you’re asleep. A good night’s sleep will do you good. I often wake up the morning after with the answer just waiting for me.

Get more great creativity tips by signing up for my monthly newsletter HERE.

 

 

Drawings in a Time of Social Distancing

Drawing in a time of social distancing poster

How does isolation affect artists and influence their art?  Does it cause stagnation or new works of imagination? Jorge Posada, the curator of the Drawing in a Time of Social Distancing exhibition, sought to answer these questions. “What a line can become is amazing! As a delicate traverse of space, as the delineating edge of form, or as a gathering of energy to shape a visual metaphor, in the hands of an artist, it becomes mesmerizing,” states Jorge.

One hundred thirty-six artists have put their hands to create these lines.  View the new online exhibition hosted by Long Island City Artists on their website, www.licartists.org, from June 12 – August 12, 2020.

A wide variety of approaches to the discipline of drawing are displayed, separated into three basic categories, ​traditional, non-traditional, and interior/exterior​. My ink and watercolor sketch, Irises, is displayed in the traditional category area.

View the Online Exhibition

Do you miss going to galleries and museums?

Stratum mixed media collage NCS National Collage Society

Not to worry. You can take these gallery tours from your couch. Many venues are putting up online shows free to the public to enjoy. I currently have work in the following two online art exhibitions.

National Collage Society’s 23rd Annual Small Format Exhibition

This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the National Collage Society Small Format Exhibit. This Postcard Exhibit is an invitational exhibition comprised of small format 4″ x 6″ postcard-sized collages. The Society defines collage is any artwork created with another layer glued onto the surface.

Click the link to Visit Nat’l Collage Society Exhibit

 

Long Island City Artists’ Spring National Collage Exhibition

One hundred eight of our artists are represented here, in LiC-A’s first online Members’ Exhibition.  Our regular exhibition venues, including the Plaxall Gallery in Long Island City, are shut down temporarily due to the current health situation. So we are using our website to provide a public space in which both artists and visitors can share in the appreciation of these incredibly exceptional and diverse talents of Queens artists.

Click the link to Visit LiC-A Spring Exhibit

Ocean Tidbit Kathy Ferguson collage mixed media
Ocean Tidbit, 1 of 9, 6″ x 6″, mixed media

 

Just a pigment of my imagination

Botanical hide and seek, cold wax CWM mixed media painting, 10" x 10", white checkboard pattern over colorful background
It’s weird how some paintings come into being.  The artwork below is one such painting. It came about through three unrelated experiments into a single, colorful work of art.

One:  I offload my leftover paints onto sheets of paper instead of throwing them out. Sometimes, I can use these paints in my collage work. This particular paper was a total mess, and I couldn’t think of any way to use it.

Two:  I needed to do a transfer test to judge paper translucency. I used this messy paper for the background paper. Now it was doubly a mess.

Three: I’ve wanted to experiment with cold-wax medium. It’s different from encaustic wax, which must be used in a melted form, as it stays usable at room temperature. I needed an acrylic background to experiment on, so I grabbed this paper again.

After using masking tape to create a grid pattern, I filled in every other square with white tinted CWM. Next, I practiced removing and drawing into it. Suddenly, from all the chaos I saw order and interest. I’m as surprised as you are!

Moral of the story: Don’t throw away your failed paintings and experiments.  You might find the perfect use for them one day!

Checking in on you. Are you safe and healthy?

I am writing to check-in and see how everyone is faring in their remote corners of the globe, and hoping that you are safe and well.

I’m currently sheltering in Florida with my hubby, where I’m fortunate to be able to walk and bike outside. I fill my days with art-making, cooking, reading, and enjoying game nights with friends and family (via Zoom).

As the situation has me unable to truly focus, I’m making a little bit of everything. In my studio, I have half-finished oil paintings, acrylic doodles, watercolor sketches, and cold-wax experiments. While they patiently wait for me to get back to them, I am happy to share at least one completed effort here.

There is a lot of disparity of quarantine experiences across the world, and I am genuinely grateful that we are one of the lucky families in these uncertain times. Those of you are doing essential services, you are the true heroes. You have not gone unnoticed, and we cannot thank you enough for your courage and commitment to others. Thank you.

Developing final art from a digital sketch

landscape water iPad procreateThis spring, I used my iPad, and the app Procreate to develop some painting ideas for a commissioned beach-themed artwork. Painting digitally is helpful because you can work with the client to try out different ideas without actually applying paint to canvas.  You can easily go back and remove the changes with just a click of a button.  In this sketch, using the client’s comments, I lightened and softened the large areas on the right.  Then I add more tan and reduced the darker areas. I thought you might like to see how the final painting turned out. To the left is the revised digital sketch.

The final painting “Nantucket Summer” is now happily hanging in my client’s home on Nantucket Island.

 

Have you ever wanted to see your art published in a magazine?

Colorful Kathy Ferguson artwork published art on magazine of Wild Apple Wall Decor

Of course!  I dreamed of getting my artwork published in a magazine but always thought of it as a long shot.  And making the cover?  Impossible.

So, I was surprised and thrilled to have my artworks, Jeweled Forest One and Two, featured on the cover of Wild Apple‘s Art Decor February 2019 Issue.  Wild Apple Graphics is my B2B art publisher and licensor.  These two original paintings are still available if you’re interested. See them in detail on my website.

A spread of art magazine publications
A spread of art magazines that might be a good fit for publishing your artwork

How to get your work published in magazines

“Congratulations,” you say.  “But how can I make this dream happen for me?”  There are lots of ways to get your artwork published, both online and print magazines. The key is to start with a MEDIA KIT.

The first step to getting your artwork published in magazines is to assemble a compelling media kit. This kit is a digital portfolio that will allow magazines to take a quick look at your artwork and profile. It’s a glance at your best and most relevant pieces. The media kit should contain two things, artwork images and a text introduction.

Collect your Artwork Images for magazine publication

10-15 images of your work. Make sure the pictures are high-quality, with no background or frames—just images of the artwork themselves. Lighting must be professional and uniform, so there is no skewing of the colors. It’s a bonus to include photos of artworks hanging in-situ, in beautifully decorated rooms to help show the size and proportions of your work.

Ideal file dimensions for web viewing (and quick load time) are JPEGs at 72 dpi – 2000px max – less than 1.5MB. 

write a Text Introduction to that will interest writers

Though you are a visual artist, images are not enough. Magazines and bloggers want to know more about your background and the inspiration behind your artwork. 

A simple, compelling story is what you should be providing. Don’t use art-talk or excessive detail. The language should be approachable and straightforward. Include information about previous, current, and future work, as well as your important achievements and exhibitions. Avoid long lists; this is not your resume. Keep the text short and captivating (300-500 words), covering the key aspects of your artist persona: Who, what, why, when, how.

Submit your text in an unformatted, editable form like plain text (not a pdf or standard word document), and include your contact information and social media links.

 

Published Kathy Ferguson article in Art Haben magazine
The first page in an article about my artwork in Art Haben’s Magazine’s biennial issue
Correctly format your Magazine Submission documents

Magazines and bloggers have a tremendous need for quality content but don’t have the time to write it all. If you can provide writers with quality content, you have a good chance of getting published. However, even quality content isn’t enough to get you published if not delivered in the correct format. If they have to contact you to get a photo file or editable text document, they will likely discard your work in favor of someone else. Time is money, and editors have none to spare.

The simpler your work is to publish, the more likely you’ll see it in print. Send your images as individual JPG’s and your text in an editable document without formatting (like plain text).

Once you have the artwork images and artist press text:

  1. Place these files into an online folder on GOOGLE DRIVE or DROPBOX.
  2. Set the privacy setting of your media kit folder to PUBLIC. 
  3. Copy the share link for this folder. That is the link that you will send to the magazines/bloggers. It allows them to browse the images and text without needing to download anything.

With your materials prepared, it’s time to analyze the right magazines for your work and how to approach them. Don’t have a list, check out this list of art magazines to get you started.

A feature about Kathy Ferguson Artwork published in the magazine Not Random Art
A page from an article about my artwork in the magazine “Not Random Art.’
Step 1: Research Art Magazines and Writers who will be interested in publishing your artwork

Doing research will help target your efforts towards magazines/blogs where you are a good fit and could be published.

  1. Narrow down those magazines where you can see a good fit with your style of artwork.
  2. Make a list of the writers that are actively publishing content. Magazines can have a large team of contributors, and it’s useful if you contact one of them personally rather than going through the magazine’s direct contact email.
  3. Search these writers’ latest articles and evaluate which one would be the best fit to contact about your work.
  4. Look for their email or social media link and start a conversation. Comment on a recent article that they shared. (Generally, only personal contact with writers will get you published. Bulk emails rarely gain results.)
Step 2: Delivery your Media Kit to the Magazine Writer for Publication
  1. Now it’s time to send your material for publication. Write a short and direct email telling a little bit about the project that you want to get published and why you think it’s a good fit for the publication. Don’t forget to include the link to the download folder with the images and text.
  2. Once published, be sure to share on your newsletter, social media sites, and blog. I like to personally mail copies of any articles with a note to my VIP collectors.

Magazines and blogs can be powerful channels to gain new followers and get valuable visibility. Just remember the formula: Quality content delivered correctly to the right magazine, equals new followers.

Are you interested in learning more about my work and my life as a professional artist?  Sign up to receive my Studio Insider newsletter in your email box which features lots of great art, fun stories, and creativity tips to enjoy.

Related Posts

 

 

Let’s speed things up!

Multiple works in progress

One suggestion to working faster and looser is to on start multiple paintings at one time. I use the same paper size and color palette to work up four different versions. That way, I can just move from painting to painting, adding a little here and there, letting it evolve more naturally. Everything is a little less important or precious so I don’t get as frustrated when a painting isn’t working out. I just move on to the next one and come back later with a fresh perspective.

The Year of the Pig

Pig paintings
The Year of the Pig

If you follow the lunar New Year, you know that 2019 is the Year of the Pig. The Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, NY) is hosting a really fun exhibition, the Red Envelope Show, that opened last night. This exhibition is an homage to the red celebration envelopes the Chinese community distributes during the Lunar New Year. As this is the Year of the Pig, I painted some cute portraits of pigs just peeking up from the bottom of six envelopes. There are almost 1,000 envelopes on display (and for sale) illustrated by myself, other professional artists, and local school children. Many envelopes (including mine) include a special gift inside the envelope for only the buyer to see. Don’t wait to see the show as it closes on Jan. 27. A special thank you to Bert Chau of @grumpybert who curated the exhibition. ⠀#redenvelopeshow

Opening Reception: SAT, JAN 5, 5-7 PM⠀
Gallery Dates: SAT, JAN 5 – SUN, JAN 27⠀
Gallery Hours: SAT & SUN 12-5 PM; weekdays.