Open thread-Finding balance between life and art

The Juggler by Teresa Dresden
The Juggler by Teresa Dresden

Today I was having a conversation with artist Cynthia Fedor (@cynthiaisgr8) and writer Lon S Cohen (@obilon) on Twitter  about how artists can balance a 9-to-5 career with their creative needs. You needn’t have a second job to feel unbalanced. Juggling your family and social obligations, as well as the very real work behind marketing and selling your own art, often leaves precious little time for actual creation.

We came up with a few basics I think you’ll find helpful for any artistic pursuit:

  • Make art a priority.  Make a daily (or weekly) date with your art. Physically write it down on your actual calendar (or iCal of Google Calendar) and treat it just like you would a dentist’s appointment, i.e.  Don’t. Skip. It.
  • Make creation a routine you can’t live without.  Keeping on a dental theme, make creating art as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth.  Even if it’s only 1 hour a day in the mornings before the kids wake up. Those hours add up!
  • Find a way to transition from task-oriented to creativity mode to make the most of your allotted time.  For me, it’s putting on Sigur Ros, music that cues my brain that it’s time to create. Writer Lon Cohen likes to walk to help his brain switch gears between creativity and other obligations. Your mental cue to create might be different, but whatever you choose, routines and artistic preparation rituals can make all the difference.
  • Allow yourself to create without excuses…or guilt.  (This is one I have to remind myself of regularly.) When you’re busy with everything else, it’s easy to let your art fall by the wayside. It’s also easy to put off your art because you have other obligations weighing upon you and art feels too much like a guilty pleasure. You’re an artist not because it’s the most lucrative career choice in this economy. You’re likely an artist because it’s part of your DNA.  Let that inner artist out, guilt-free. You’ll thank yourself.

What are we missing? We’d love to hear your strategies for finding balance between the obligations in your life and your art in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “Open thread-Finding balance between life and art

  1. I especially like that third tip. I find it so difficult to get my brain to switch gears. It’s something I really need to work on – thanks!

  2. Great Post! I like the part about creating routines that signal your brain that it is time to create.
    I have a commercial digital art business that keeps me busy every day for at least 8 hours a day. I find the hardest thing is finding time for my own artwork that is not client driven. I find I do best when I am taking classes, because I know at least one day a week I can devote a few hours to my glass mosaics, and getting out of the digital studio helps the hands want to work in a new way.

    I really think that when you do it right art & life are impossible to separate from one another. I have not worked on a mosaic in a few weeks, but I created an amazing stir fry meal this week, and I am going to go see Joan Baez tonight, and I have been keeping up with my art blog, and the Scotties are wearing dapper bandannas today. Oh and we added a new Bonsai plant to the dining room this month. Embracing art & life as one thing is not an excuse to be lazy, but instead an invitation to celebrate the hundreds of small creative pursuits you enjoy every day. So many artists are living and breathing art and all they can see is their undone project lists.

    1. As someone who works full-time and raises two pre-schoolers full-time, time for creating fine-art sometimes falls by the wayside. But I totally agree that just embracing the creativity in every task goes a long way to keeping the soul fed.

  3. Personally, I think balance may be over rated. I like all of the suggestions above and believe they are good advice. However when i hear someone say they are looking for balance, I know immeaditely that they have way to many things on their plate to begin with. Keeping all the balls up in the air is a disservice to all of them. I much prefer to view all the aspects of my life as passions. Passion by it’s very nature knows no balance. I think that if there truly is a balance to be found is may lie in the act of really defining passions and spending yourself weary on the exploration of only the best of the best. Worn out sure, but with a smile on your sleeping face!

  4. I thought about what I wrote last night when I went to bed, and I think that I could have conveyed my thought better than in the last post. Balance as I understand it, and I do have so little of it! Is simply the ability to live in the moment. I also think that art is most creative when I am able to to that. I feel passionate about many things but I have to have the ability and freedom to pursue, and fully enjoy the present “passion” before I move on or look back. I did neglect to say that Family is first and foremost passion and when I can incorporate family with art, which is what Rebbeca was getting at I think, then I am over the top and fully engaged! That to me is balance. But like it or not it usually comes down to choices doesn’t it. Hopefully they will be my choices, and not dictates of the daily demand.

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