by Lori Woodward Simons
As I've mentioned in past blogs, artists are motivated visually—at least I am. It seems our minds follow and are motivated by what we see. So in order to get busy on a painting, I need to remove myself from distractions and put myself in an environment that suits my artistic dreams. When I'm out of the studio and looking at other things that need to get done, it's difficult to become motivated to paint.
One of the ways that I whet my appetite for painting is to just sit in my studio. I see my studio as a kind of painting sanctuary—a place set aside for the sole purpose of creating art. If I can get my body there and my eyes fixed on my work, before I know it my mind gets saturated with visions and imaginations of paintings that I want to make. American Artist just released their special issue on studios. I am looking forward to getting my copy, and although I don't have the space or finances to build a workplace like some of the studios I'll see in the issue, I will certainly gain ideas about how to make my painting space more efficient.
So, how do I motivate myself to paint? First, I move my body (and therefore my mind) to my working space. This space, my studio, needs to be separated from the rest of my home. Once there, If I'm not already working on a painting, I look through my references and magazine tear sheets (yes, I tear out the articles I love and put them in files). My art-library bookshelf is nearby, so I often look through my books until I begin to get the urge to paint. Some artists prefer to plan ahead, but I'm the type that wants to be "led" to paint something that excites me.
It goes without saying that if I'm painting en plein air, I'll find a scene or subject that touches my heart. I'm reminded of something Donald Demers said at a recent workshop I attended: "I never paint anything unless it resonates emotionally with me."The studio, however, is where I enjoy working the most, and the hardest part about getting psyched to paint is getting away from life's worries and distractions and into the solace of my studio. This works best if I designate a time to arrive there. In essence, I'm making a personal appointment with my workspace. Since my mind is sharpest in the morning hours, I usually plan to get myself into that creative space around 10:00 a.m. Once I'm there, the muse automatically follows. The trick is to not allow myself to leave for at least an hour. Even if I just look at books, before I know it, the ideas for paintings will begin to flow, and I'll find myself putting my brush to paper or canvas.
How do you get motivated to paint on a regular basis? Do you have a routine? Perhaps you're working on commissions that must get done whether you feel excited about painting or not. No doubt, some of you have a system in place in which you work with such regularity that you have no need to whet your painting appetite.
Lori Woodward Simons earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from University of Arizona. She has studied watercolor and composition extensively with Sondra Freckelton and Jack Beal. Simons’ work has appeared in several issues of Watercolor, and she is a co-author of the Walter Foster book Watercolor Step by Step. She is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group in Vermont. She resides in New Hampshire with her husband, Brian Simons, a software engineer. Visit her website at
www.loriwords.com and follow her on Twitter here.