This particular topic has been nagging at me for the longest time. I’ve talked about Work at Home Blues when I first started the freelancing life. Now, a few years into this, I’m realizing some important things via introspection and talking to others in the same business. Prolonged time alone is not conducive to creativity.
For as much as I thought at the beginning ‘hey it would be cool to be left alone to work on all these projects’, that just has simply not been the case. I’ve had enough time to sit and think about what really drove my creativity when I was younger and that was being in the presence of like-minded people (artists and otherwise) during my college years. We did plein air painting in class, where we would sit outside and reproduce a drainage ditch in watercolor. Painting outdoors got us out of the monotonous classroom and forced us to think about the colors of the world and how they related to the colors on our palette. The art students and crazy anime club people had a lunch table where we’d all gather, chat, and draw en masse every single day. Talking to other artists got us excited about our ideas, and oh the jokes that pervaded those sacred lunchtime hours!
But college days are done and after those golden years of childhood come to a close, we are left to our own terrible devices. There is no teacher over our shoulder saying ‘today you will continue to study and improve your work!’. There’s no one to drag you outside and make you observe your own world and how it can improve your art. It’s so tempting to stay inside and avoid going out because you’re going to ‘get more work done’ or ‘gas costs money’. I find myself making those excuses on a daily basis and it’s led to a lack of motivation and inspiration more than once.
I feel the most inspired when I have experiences in my life driving me onward. This could be as basic as going to the park or Callaway Gardens to marvel at the simple beauty of nature (♥ the Butterfly House). Or it can be as complicated as animators taking a trip to the Great Wall of China to make sure their project has the authentic feel of ancient Asia in their work (a la the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, whose concept art book I’ve been reading lately). Creativity evolves from energy, experience, and making the unseen connections.
So how do we combat loneliness? Get our hermit butts out of the house! Go to sketch meets. Don’t have one in town? Start one! Facebook and Meetup are great tools for that. If you’re low on funds, try your local park where it’s generally free to go look at some ducks. There’s also the library where you can read books for free and study quietly (surprising how often we forget libraries exist!). Join your local art society, which serves the purpose of getting your pale self out of the house and networking with a more knowledgeable crowd (this can also lead to marketing opportunities, too!).
On the note of joining art societies, I have had my own strategies of avoidance, like thinking that nobody will like me because I’m very much in the fantasy arena while most societies around here specialize in fine art landscapes and folk art. I feel like I won’t fit in, but in my experience so far, people are there because they simply love creating art! You are there to share the love. Most societies will just be happy to have new members to carry on their legacy, as well.
Monotony is a killer of the human spirit. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap! Remember that solitary confinement is considered a form of punishment for a reason.
(Know of any places artists can find local meetups and sketch jams? Share in comments! I’d love to know if there are any in the Newnan, Fayetteville, and Peachtree City, GA area, myself!)