Keeping Motivation When Painting Professionally
Updated: Jan 24
One of the things I didn't anticipate when moving from a hobby artist to a professional one is having to keep my motivation--even when inspiration isn't striking. As a hobbyist, I was so used to painting when I wanted and riding the wings of "the muse" that I didn't have to worry about inspiration or being motivated to get to my art studio space. Now that my artistic journey has taken a more serious turn, I don't have the luxury to just paint when I want.
So how do I stay motivated when I'm just not in ~the mood~? Well, there are several ways:
1) I spend some time creating sources. I used to be a huge believer in just picking a random subject, a random color palette, and using my intuition to just shove them all together while I painted. I really loved this technique and it allowed me to have many breakthroughs, but when I'm feeling stuck, this just doesn't cut it. Lately, if I'm feeling stuck, I'll take a picture of a painting I'm working on and put it in Photoshop to tweak it and add different elements. I highly recommend using a royalty free photo service like Pexels for inspiration. You can also just create sources and have them on hand for when you need something to look to.
2) I'll pick something small to do. Any little thing! Maybe it's just picking up a paint brush and painting the sides of a canvas. Maybe it's collaging some things. Or maybe it's just playing around with some inks. Whatever it is, I'll pick something up that sounds even remotely like fun and do it. Once I get started, I'm usually able to jump start my to-do list; however, if I'm not, at least I walk out of my studio accomplishing something.
3) I'll peruse the social media accounts of my favorite artists. I don't know about you, but I get really motivated when I see my favorite artists putting out their best work (or any work...). It gives me so many ideas and I feel so inspired. Sometimes it's just the push I need.
4) I'll focus on another aspect of my business. Look, the fact is professional artists aren't always just creating (to the chagrin of many). We are often solopreneurs, which means we are admins, CEOs, CFOs, marketing execs, social media gurus...the whole gamut. When I'm not feeling it in the studio, there are plenty of other pieces to this operation that I can be working on--and often feel more inspired to do! I find personally that when I'm not feeling motivated in the studio it's because my mind is obsessing over another facet of my business. When that happens, my time is better spent just diving in and getting to work.
5) Finally, I just get started. I know you probably don't want to hear this, but sometimes the issue is that you are too scared or just resistant to a certain part of your creative process. I know for me, I freeze when I get to oils--especially if it's a portrait. I'm afraid of "messing it up", so I'll ignore the piece and get more and more anxious about it. If this is the case for you and it's not about boredom or lack of inspiration, then just get started. It never feels good. Ever. But it will once you are laying down those first few brush strokes and you're doing the thing! I promise!
What are your tips for staying motivated to create? Leave some comments below!