Stop Making Art : Deep Thought Thursday

Today's DTT comes via Twitter and @JuliaKirt.

When is it okay to stop making art?


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38 thoughts on “Stop Making Art : Deep Thought Thursday”

  1. To eat, and sleep! No, I know that sometimes it’s really hard to keep up on it, but in those times, I try to set myself smaller goals than usual. It’s okay to take a break, temporarily, but you have to be careful that it doesn’t get away from you. Its harder to keep motivated if you feel like you have to start again, versus capitalizing on the momentum you already have.

    1. I 100 percent agreed Jennifer! For me, I find the momentum keeps me going and doing better consistently. I do take breaks from time to time (a couple of days between pictures or up to a week even on occasion) but I find the constant art making keeps my skills at a higher level than if I take a break and get unmotivated.

    2. I totally agree with you, Lynnette.
      I also agree with Jennifer though. When you have that spark that you don’t want to lose, the only good time to stop creating is during eating and sleeping (and some would say Sleeping is just you preparing to create tomorrow).
      I have stopped creating to have a real job (it’s very fulfilling, but in a completely different way), but I find myself striving to find a creative outlet: dance, music, graphic design, weaving, cooking. So if you take into account everything else that I do that’s not my primary focus but is still creating, I still haven’t stopped. #missingthestudio

    3. I agree!! I find I struggle ab it with feelings of guilt still if i take a day or two from my painting.. I have to learn after pushing myself so hard for a year to establish myself as a portrait artist,To just give myself a break now and the. And feel ok about it..

  2. I consider myself an emotional painter. High or low the work pours out. Steady state that is my recharge period. If it lasts too long I try to force it. These pieces usually are substandard but they have been known to get the emotion flowing. It is an exquisite madness and I am happy for it.

  3. A good farmer knows to leave the earth to rest & replenish every 7th year… I treat myself like that earth, & have forced a rest on that schedule through my whole career…

  4. i think it’s quite okay to give yourself permission to take a break. for me, at times it’s been weeks to even years. life happens…kids, divorce, jobs…one time an artist block. I’ve been steadily creating…almost every day…for over 6 years now. I can’t imagine not doing it but i also realize other things are just as creative and important as drawing for me.

  5. I like to take a break after I have been working towards a deadline for an exhibition or finishing a commission. It could be just a day at home reading a book or a week vacation with the family. I think it’s important to step out of the studio and relax and renew.

  6. Funny you should ask! I’m taking my first intentional break right now and it’s entirely lovely to be unconcerned and unguilty. I’m using this time to putter and play, going into the studio at times to just appreciate it and stay connected in an unsticky way. I plan to dive back into the making with gusto and abandon at the new moon on January 23.

  7. Thankyou for posting this question and these comments! I have just recently started pursuing my dream to be a professional artist, and I have soooo many questions. This blog has been really helpful!

  8. I stop when i can’t find the thread of anything genuinely compelling about the piece I’m working on. For me it’s about actually being interested in what I’m making and if I’m not, it is time to head out into the world and give up on a piece that’s being still born/stillborn.

  9. When it’s time to care for another, like your own mother. Or, when you realize you may have another interest that rivals art- say, music. A break will make me stronger later when I return.

    1. I’m with you, Janice!
      No. If I limit myself to do only “art,” then I will be unhappy because I don’t have that much time to make “art.” In the last year and half, I am MUCH happier because of a simple mental switch. EVERYTHING I do, I try to consider as a creative endeavor. Exploration, curiosity, doodling, etc. can be made a part of almost everything.
      I try to create new art daily – good or bad, small or large. Life has been in my way of doing more than watercolors and pencil art in a sketchbook, 8×5 in. and smaller. I’m with Janice – try to consider bending everything you do as an act of art.
      PS: Thanks for a blog post for me…LOL.

  10. Sari’s comment resonates with me. I suppose that there are many people who have to force themselves to take a break, who prefer not to go fallow and may not feel a need for that rest and reflection. I seem to work in cycles.

  11. There are no rules. It’s OK to do whatever the hell you want to do. There are no SHOULD’s. If you are making art when you are not feelin it … then ask yourself WHY. Go charge up somewhere else. Then come back when you feel like it. Trust the process.

  12. Wow, as a restless soul, I tend to always have to be “doing” something. A goal for 2012 is more time just to be. I spent a night at my moms’ this week away from the internet and we played Parcheesi till two in the morning! I didn’t have the heart to wake her the next morning. Did a few chores and slipped out the door. The feeling of tenderness, giving yourself, your time FULLY left me wanting to make art. Note to self: Living fully and balanced, instead of being a producing machine =s better art and a better life!
    Thanks for the question ; )

  13. Ellene Breedlove Davis

    During the time of a loved ones illness and death, I took time off and wasn’t able to get back to the easel for quite a while. But, when I did return I found peace in painting. To be truthful, my art is much more expressive now than ever before.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Ellene: You should see the documentary film The Woodmens. An excellent story of how the daughter’s suicide greatly affects the mother’s work.

  14. I should stop when I feel the public looking over my shoulder, and I start to consider what would please them rather than what would let me stretch out a little bit more. Not the proper attitude for someone who’s trying to pay the bills with their work, I admit.

  15. When you are no longer enjoying the process and find yourself being productive just to be productive; when you’ve tied yourself up in knots over your expectations about how your work should be. I am on a two-month time out right now because of the above mentioned challenges. I’m been creating and making things, but with absolutely no “reason” or “purpose.” I am struggling to get back to the child who loves to play. We have to take the time to refill our selves and souls. I’ve run dry and need to find the well again.

  16. I would like to quote from the book ‘Art and fear’ by David Bayles and Ted Orland, on the subject of quitting: “Quitting is fundamentally different from stopping. The latter happens all the time. Quitting happens once. Quitting means not starting again – and art is all about starting again…the depth of your need to make things establishes the level of risk in not making them.”
    I agree – art is about starting again, be it every day, or after a period of being away..the point is you that you know, deep down, if you should be working, if you are procrastinating.

  17. When the distractions become too great. I work alone in a quiet studio and during the Holidays, I just can’t work. There’s always someone or someTHING that needs my attention and I find myself going into the studio for the wrong reasons.
    I’ve come to accept the hiatus of November and December and then return in January refreshed and ready to begin a new year.

  18. I’ve painted and/or drawn every day since the start of 2010 – the goal is to reach 1000 days. I’m on day 744 as we speak.
    There are certainly days when I’d love to take a break, though.

  19. Maybe never entirely. I have a painting that I have set aside for 3 years because I didn’t like how it was working. I’ve recently had new ideas for it and a renewed inspiration and I’m starting back with the hopes of finishing.

  20. Loved reading everyone’s thoughts! I resonate with many of you. Having taken a break over the holidays and determined to enjoy it, I am now back in the studio almost everyday (you have to take a day to grocery shop, go to the doctor, etc) and it’s so good to be back. Actually we are in the process of building a house, and it won’t be finished until June 2012…I’m really excited for my new studio, but I am making the best out of the small kitchen table I have for now. My goal is to become a professional working (and well paid) artist, so I have to take my work days seriously and never quit painting altogether.

  21. Joanne Vallee Brunelle

    As long as I am physically able I will make art in one form or another. I will not stop but sometimes there are pauses.

  22. I am not sure if I ever thought about this. It is very unusual (for me) for a day to go by and not have made some kind of art. It might be the way that I am wired but my mind never stops creating. Sometimes I wish it would. If I’m not in my studio painting I am home drawing and painting with inks until the wee hours almost every day.
    Since I am a doodler, it seems that I never stop.
    I do have to agree with Ellene, after my father died I stopped creating. I stopped going to the studio for about 1 month…it was even hard for me to doodle…something that usually come automatically.
    Once I did get back to the studio it was a bit hard at first. The 1st few days I destroyed (melted since I work with wax) everything I made.
    Thank you for making me thing about this Alyson! Love to read everyone’s thoughts!

  23. Time for a reality check, recent grads and art honeymooners.
    Maybe a more interesting question for those of us who have been at this for more than 25 years, would be “when do you let yourself stop making art?” When have you made enough art? When do you let go of the dream that you will somehow rise to the top of your profession? become successful? get critically recognized? pay your bills with your art? When are you ready to move into other endeavors that will be equally fulfilling, but which you have told yourself you could not afford to do because you had to keep hammering away at your ‘art career’? I’ve done the gallery route, the academic route, the arts fellowships route, etc. I’m thinking I will probably need to keep painting, because it helps define who I am, it fulfills something in me. But – let’s all be realistic here- at the end of the road, there will be a large heap of STUFF, because what is marketable/appreciated decorative frou frou and what is truly meaningful art are not often the same entity. Now, everybody is an artist, just cuz they say so?
    My dilemma? I don’t want to burden my offspring with a lot of ‘mom’s paintings’- a legacy of beautiful but never-the-less unsold work. I would rather have a large shredding/burning event. Then be happy that I realized that the world -my community- needed something else from me. Something more tangible? Something less self-indulgent? That’s why I’m a hospice volunteer. I am giving it one more push, but really, it all boils down to a luxury to be able to call oneself an “artist” in a world where millions are working on strategies just to survive.
    I fear we have “dumbed ourselves down” to such an extent that the bar has been set way too low. And too many people are aiming for that bar.

  24. I had stopped creating art for when I started graphic design school. At the time, it was fulfilling my creative instincts. Then it wasn’t. I started working in the industry and gradually my work was being created to satisfy the needs of others. Graphic design is fun, but creating flyers for hardware stores is not creating art. The lack of creating art was the norm. I didnt realize what happened. I no longer considered myself an artist, but the day I realized that, was the day that I realized I was an artist. It took 20 years. I’m trying to be creative every day now. I call myself an artist again. I’m also happier than I’ve been for many years.

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