If you’re an artist, I’m sure you’ve experienced the cycle of isolation and community. I consider it the complete cycle of producing work. You begin by going out into the world and having experiences. You then take what you’ve experienced back to the studio, isolate yourself and work. After a time of experimentation and creation, you find yourself with finished pieces. But after long periods in isolation, you need to refuel the creative hunger, meaning leaving the studio again to travel and reconnect with friends and family. For me, the last few months have been about trying to maintain the rhythm of this cycle. But between preparing for my solo show this fall and working with brands like Facebook and Subaru, I’ve found myself caught in stilted cycles.
On a deep level, moving from isolation to community involves moving from one side of the brain to another. In my essay on dyslexia I made the distinction between needing the left side for verbal learning/making connections with people and needing the right side to work with concepts. This means the busier I become, the more I need to switch back and forth.
This has ultimately meant that I’ve had to hire more help to allow me time to focus a solid 9 hours on painting in the studio. But it also had me thinking of ways to make the transition between modes easier. I’d like to share what I came up with.
Hire the help you need: With certain tasks delegated to others, I have time to work longer and deeper in the studio. This allows me the space to be conceptual for as long as I need to be, and makes the transition back to verbal thinking easier. Surrounding your practice with supportive people makes things run smoothly. I’ve had a lot of success with finding people through my community. That being said, if hiring help isn’t in the budget- I suggest seeking help from your friends with a trade of skills.
Utilize Evernote: My entire studio team has Evernote, the app for taking digital notes. When I’m on a trip or around the city, I can take notes and photos through Evernote and share to the whole team. This helps us brainstorm and prepare for upcoming projects. What we’ve found particularly helpful about Evernote is how it frees the brain from mental lists and clutter. A “note” can be a webpage, photo, voice message, or handwritten “ink” note—which helps us collect and share ideas to brainstorm effectively. I particularly love that I can track our team's progress and project our budget for any given project pretty fast. When a project is done we archive through Evernote—just in case we need our notes in the future.
Find a routine for studio and home: Establish a solid routine for both your studio and your home life. When canvases are prepped, supplies bought and studio cleaned on a schedule you don’t have to make impromptu runs to the supply store or spend unnecessary time cleaning. With a routine for your studio and home you can guarantee larger blocks of time to do the things you need to do. This makes the transition from left to right brain less jolting.
Listen to music: There’s something about letting music blur the lines between left and right brains. If I have meetings in the morning, then I’ll start my work in the studio by listening to music. Right now I’m into Joni Mitchell, Joep Beving and always find myself coming back to Bon Iver. I touched on the power of music to easing into a flow state in this essay.
Wherever you are in the cycle now, I hope these ideas help you make more room for what you need.
A word on partnerships: With the objective of remaining true to my art and lifestyle, I only agree to partnerships with companies I respect. Therefore, I’m thankful for companies like Evernote, who are involved in bettering communities, and support my practice as an artist. I want to be as transparent as possible out of respect for my readers and in accordance with the FTC law of 2013. All content and opinions are my own. For more information on my views please read my open letter regarding partnerships.