Tag: studio

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!

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Comparing a London portrait painter’s work to mine from ten years ago

Portrait Painted by London artist, Nick Bashall

Portrait painting in London by Nick Bashall
2019 portrait painting of my husband by Nick Bashall

While walking through Chelsea on an art tour, I got to meet one of Englands’ leading portrait painters, Nick Bashall.  This meeting led to the exciting opportunity to watch this London portrait painter do a live demo.

Chelsea was renowned as the epicenter of Swinging London in the 1960-70s and was home to artists, musicians, and models. Though today it’s a more sedate upscale neighborhood, we were lucky enough to find one artist that still calls Chelsea home. Nick Bashall, a talented portrait painter who has painted British royalty graciously offered to do a head-sketch of my husband during our visit.

It was magical how he transformed paint into living flesh right before our eyes (my hubby also got to watch through a well-positioned mirror.) Nick talked about how important it was to paint from life instead of photographs to capture the essence of a subject truly. The shiny areas in the photo are because the oil paint was still very wet. Nicky’s finished sketch on the left.

Portrait Painted by Colorado artist, Kathy Ferguson

2009 portrait painting of David Ferguson by wife, Kathy Ferguson
2009 portrait painting of David Ferguson by wife, Kathy Ferguson

While getting my MFA, I took several figurative and portrait drawing classes. I always worked from photographs as I couldn’t coerce others to sit for me for hours at a time. Watching him work while we watched makes me even more impressed with his talent. If you ever get the chance, I’d highly recommend getting a portrait painted by Nick Bashall.

 

I created this earlier portrait painting of my husband around 2009. He still doesn’t think he ever looked like this, which is one reason I stopped doing portraits.  The model always thinks they look younger, thinner, or less wrinkled.  I couldn’t take the pressure to create the likeness they saw in their heads.

How does my student work compare to a famous London portrait painter? My husband is still a handsome devil ten years later, isn’t he? Or should we call him a silver fox now?

Interested in seeing more of my artwork and learn about my life as a professional artist?  Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter.

How to make a small studio space feel bigger

Wall easel paper bird studio & design

I am so excited about my new wall easel from Paper Bird Studio & Design (aka Tueller Easel Company) custom built for me by Jason Tueller. To maximize the space in my smallish Colorado studio, I opted for this amazing wall easel. It’s over 100″ long and I can put up to four canvases (or one huge canvas) on it at once! It is a great way to open up some floor space and still have lots of painting surface to work on. I’ve temporarily mounted some old family photos on it to try out the canvas holders.

Five tips for moving your art studio

5 tips for moving your studio, Moving van filled to the brim with boxes

Moving your art studio can be an overwhelming task. I have moved my art studio many times over the years, and I would love to share five tips I’ve learned along the way.

Tip #1:  Before moving, get rid of as much as possible

The first step to moving your studio belongings is to reduce them as much as possible. The less you own, the easier the move becomes. I’ve found the longer I’m in a location, the more stuff I accumulate. After a while, my piles of stuff become overwhelming and make my studio mostly unusable. Throughout many moves, I’ve forced myself to become more selective about what I keep to help reduce the clutter.

I start by ridding myself of a lot of my old paintings. I am happy to say my work has improved over the years, and much of my prior art isn’t up to my current standards. Now, I only save the professional pieces that I’m not embarrassed to show anyone, plus a handful of earlier pictures of which I’m particularly fond. As a result, I have a pretty streamlined collection of my work (with just enough old stuff for that museum retrospective I plan to have when I’m 90). So what to do with this work you’re not keeping?

  • Have a moving sale offering your older work at a good discount. Someone gets your art at a reduced price, and you have lightened your moving load—win/win.
  • Gift your work to friends, charities, and other places (hospitals, retirement communities, etc.) that might like some free artwork to hang on their walls.
  • Take a photo (so you’ll have a record), then throw it away.  Or have a bonfire party where you and your artist friends can purge your unwanted artwork as a cathartic way to start anew.

Next, I cull the materials I don’t use. During my MFA, I experimented with all kinds of mediums that I’ve never used since. I went through and sorted what I use from what I was keeping out of some mistaken thought that I might use them one day. Ground pumice, carborundum grit, silkscreens, linoleum tiles, & rabbit skin glue (I’m a vegetarian for heaven’s sake!) Yep…time to give that stuff away to some other supply hoarding artist ;).

Tip #2:  Buy plenty of high-quality packing materials

Unless you’ve got money to burn, packing your art supplies yourself will save you a bundle.  Plus, sorting through your possessions will let you purge unneeded supplies as you go. (See tip #1 about reducing your mass of supplies).

The key to making the packing go quickly and smoothly is to NOT skimp on packing materials. Don’t use old, worn shipping boxes as they are generally too thin to protect your supplies. Instead, purchase heavy-duty cardboard boxes, packing paper, and bubble wrap. Don’t overpack your boxes, cramming your materials together without padding. Instead, wrap your supplies well, and add extra padding around the bottom, sides, and top of the box. If it’s important enough to transport, it’s important enough to pack it well. Home Depot has very affordable supplies, and you can return any unused purchases, so buy more than you need to eliminate unnecessary extra trips to the store.

 

5 tips for moving your studio, stacks of packing boxes and easel

Tip #3:  Hire qualified movers to do the lifting

I have personally loaded, moved, and unloaded my studio by myself several times. It’s time-consuming, back-breaking, and I end up with lots of bruises and smashed fingers.

I’ve realized that it’s better to leave the physical lifting and loading to the professionals. It may seem expensive, but I’ve never once regretted the added expense. With pros moving my stuff, I don’t run the risk of injuring myself trying to carry studio furniture that weighs more than I do down a flight (or three) of stairs. Plus, movers are faster than I ever could hope to be at the job. Seriously. During this recent move, they had ALL my stuff, including a massive table, two flat files, and a heavy wooden easel loaded in the truck in less than 30 minutes!

Tip #4:  Handle moving your fragile artwork and breakable supplies yourself

If you are moving locally, move your most fragile stuff yourself. I have pastel sticks that break if you sneeze on them and unframed paper works that need special care. I prefer not to let the movers handle these more delicate items. Instead, these things come with me in my car to my studio’s new location. I can treat them with child gloves, and if anything gets damaged, at least it was by my hands. Somehow, it makes damaged work more comfortable to bear.

Tip #5:  Don’t ask the movers to move your chemicals

Most movers won’t deal with your chemicals. Plus, the last thing you want is for a container of turpentine to suddenly start leaking in a box. It would expose the crew to harmful fumes, it’s flammable, and could potentially damage your property stacked up around it. So what to do instead? If heading out of town, get rid of as much as possible to another artist or hazardous waste site. If you are moving locally, make a separate trip using your car. While not exactly the most optimal thing having a box of chemicals packed in your vehicle, it’s probably no more dangerous than your full gas tank. Seal everything in plastic bags, packed with copious amounts of packing materials, and drive carefully.

These are five tips for moving your studio. Do you have a few more to share with the rest of us? Please share them in the comments section.

 

My New Art Studio: Before and After

Art studio remodel

I moved into a new art studio a couple of months ago. It has lovely wood floors, but I found them too dark for an art studio. I also worried about damaging them (I’m just renting the space). I found an easy, affordable solution by covering most of the floor with cream-colored carpet tiles from FLOR in my new studio space, plus adding an inexpensive area rug from Home Depot for some color.

Before art studio remodelCovering the studio’s brown wood floor makes the space so much brighter.  Plus, I don’t have to worry about getting paint on the floor.  I can easily lift the individual tiles up, rinse them off in the kitchen sink, and then stick them back down when they are dry.  Or more likely, I’ll just leave the paint on them and consider it part of the decor!  Drop by and visit so you can see for yourself!

What would you do with an extra hour a day?

Moving truck photo

 

An opportunity arose to move from my Long Island City studio into a studio just down the block from my current apartment in Greenwich Village. It shortens my roundtrip commute from over an hour to 5 minutes!  I will miss my artist friends from my old studio building but not the subway commute.

What would you do if you discovered an extra hour in your day? Take up yoga? Sleep more? Learn to knit? I am going to use it to make more art. Leave your comments below. I am interested in everyone’s answers.

In the next month’s newsletter, I will show you my new studio space and some original artwork in progress. Stay tuned!

 

My art is in MoMA!

MoMA PS1 Studio Visit

Okay, that a huge exaggeration. However, I am showcased in MoMA’s PS1 Studio Visit. This is a web initiative by MoMA that offers virtual presentations of artists’ studios. Emerging artists working in the five boroughs and greater New York area are invited to upload video or still images of their studios and work. Artists’ submissions will be present on the website for at least one month.  Studio Visit serves as an online artistic hub and give viewers a look at some exciting new work while examining the varied artistic practices located within the New York City area.  Come check it out at http://momaps1.org/studio-visit/

Inside Studio

MOVING DAY!

I just moved into a larger studio space (in the same building) and it’s chaos here! I realized I need to paint the flat files (which purchased from the previous tenant) before I can use them. But then I realized that I can’t spray paint anything until I get everything under plastic, which I can’t do until I unpack. Which I can’t do until I paint the wooden storage loft so I can store everything on it. So it’s off to Home Depot to get gallons of paint and get started.

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