The Art Biz ep. 111: Focusing on Self-Care to Increase Productivity with Maria Coryell Martin

What are you doing to take care of yourself? To keep up your energy? To maintain a positive mindset?

To balance out the hours in the studio and on the computer?

There it is. The B-word. Balance. I talked about it back in episode 70 with Chris Maynard. Honestly, I don't believe in the relentless pursuit of balance. I believe it's more important to enjoy what you're doing about 75% of the time, whether you're working in the studio, cooking dinner, or exploring a new pastime.

Watercolor painting guillemot eggs artist Maria Coryell Martin | on Art Biz Success
©Maria Coryell-Martin, Black Guillemot Eggs. Watercolor on paper, 21 x 40 inches.

When you love what you're doing, balance between business and pleasure, family and commitments, or your art and marketing is immaterial. You don't care about an even split between those pursuits because you are fulfilled.

But you still have to take care of yourself, and I know this is a challenge.

Who can blame you? You have work to do! You have art to make. There is, if I understand you, an urgency to make the work and get it out there so that you can find the people who respond to it. That's when the circle of creation to communication is complete. That's when you are most fulfilled.

And then you get up the next morning and do it all over again. But you can't if you are unwell. If your body aches from the physically demanding work you do or your shoulders are tense from hunkering over the computer all afternoon, or you are living on caffeine in the morning and a couple of glasses of wine in the evening. If, as the result of any of these scenarios, you aren't sleeping.

In this episode of the podcast I talk with Maria Coryell-Martin, a busy mom with a thriving art career and companion business that supports her family. With all she has going on, Maria makes time for almost-daily swims in cold, open water, healthy eating, and plenty of sleep—all for the sake of keeping up her energy. Listen in to hear how she does it.


  • Maria’s expeditionary art combines her passions for science, art and education. (2:20)

    Watercolor painting icy South george island artist Maria Coryell Martin | on Art Biz success
    ©Maria Coryell-Martin, South George. Watercolor on paper, 24 x 24 inches.
  • The motivation behind splitting Maria’s two artist endeavors. (4:57)
  • An income breakdown from Art Toolkit and Expeditionary Art. (7:44)
  • Maria’s art takes her all over the world. (10:31)
  • “I want to be a capable, useful person in the field.” (14:39)
  • How Maria successfully solicits funds for her expeditions. (17:17)
  • Self-care is the rock for Maria’s sanity. (19:25)
  • The physical aspect of making art requires taking care of your body. (24:06)
  • A typical day for Maria starts with getting enough sleep and swimming in the ocean. (28:21)
  • Monitoring energy levels, controlling what you’re eating, responding to stress. (35:15)
  • Setting boundaries around your time and energy. (40:57)
  • Getting the help you need so you can do your best work. (42:45)
  • The simple first steps for starting self-care today. (46:00)
Watercolor painting Hope Bay artist Maria Coryell Martin | on Art Biz Success
©Maria Coryell-Martin, Tabular, Hope Bay, Antarctica. Watercolor on paper, 21 x 40 inches.


  • Cooper Island Black Guillemot Research
  • The recipe that is the basis for Maria's Lentil Burgers. Here's how she changes this recipe.

    I sauté the mushrooms and onions with other extra things from the fridge (green onions or peppers). I typically double the recipe and use different lentils—or sometimes half lentils and half split peas or garbanzo beans. I add in more miso, sometimes paprika … and, finally, I bake them instead of pan cooking them. I make about 24 at once, and cook them at about 300 or 350 until done (an hour or so) flipping halfway through. I change them up every time I make them—really enjoy them for a mid morning protein snack. I often warm them up in the toaster.

artist Maria Coryell Martin sketching on ice | on Art Biz Success
Maria sketching on ice in Baffin Bay, West Greenland. Photo by Kristin Laidre.

Maria Coryell-Martin Quotes

  • “Ask for what you need. You may not get it, but at least you’ll learn something.”
  • “I’ve developed tools and habits over my life that are my rock for my sanity.”
  • “Work is like a river. You dip your toes in and do what you can and then you take your toes out and it keeps flowing.”
  • “Mistakes are part of everything you do, but you’ve just got to move forward and let mistakes happen.”

About My Guest

artist Maria Coryell Martin | on Art Biz SuccessMaria Coryell-Martin is an expeditionary artist following the tradition of traveling artists as naturalists and educators. She graduated from Carleton College in 2004 and received a Thomas J. Watson fellowship to explore remote regions through art from 2004-2005.

Since then Maria has worked with scientists, local communities, and travelers in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and the Antarctic Peninsula. In the field, Coryell-Martin sketches with ink and watercolor, and collects multimedia recordings to build her palette of place, a record of experience, climate, and color. This led her to create the wildly popular Art Toolkit.

This work became the basis for exhibits of large-scale studio and field paintings, as well as multimedia presentations and hands-on workshops for audiences of all ages to promote observation, scientific inquiry, and environmental awareness.

Follow Maria on Instagram: @expeditionaryart

Follow Art Toolkit on Instagram: @ArtToolkit

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5 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 111: Focusing on Self-Care to Increase Productivity with Maria Coryell Martin”

  1. Enjoyable podcast. Thank you so much Alyson for getting Maria to mention all the people who support her. I think it is an important facet we all need to successfully balance our practices and family responsibilities

  2. Thanks Alyson and Maria. I really enjoyed hearing about Maria’s emphasis on self-care practices, and her Art Toolkit business. Also, I am an enthusiastic swimmer, and this gave me ideas about living closer to natural bodies of water where I can swim. What an incredible way to start your day!

  3. Hi, Alyson! Thank you so much for this episode! I came across this podcast while searching for productivity tips, as I’ve been struggling to find a balance between my daily routine and the things I truly enjoy doing but always end up postponing. I must say, this podcast has been an absolute gem! The insights shared by Maria resonate with me deeply. Setting boundaries around time and energy is crucial, and I couldn’t agree more with the importance of seeking help when needed. It’s refreshing to hear someone emphasize the significance of self-care for maintaining sanity and achieving our best work. Thank you for this enlightening episode!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Hi, Angela. I’m so happy you found the podcast and me. Maria is amazing, and I’m glad her words are meaningful to you. Come back soon!

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