Present Possibility (Lessons From 100 Self Portraits) – EP 289

Are you present when working in your art studio? Where is your mental focus when engaged in art-making? On this episode, I’m going to share how much presence and staying in the moment have impacted my self-portrait journey so far. We’ll also dive into slowing down to speed up and the power of baby steps. You don’t want to miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:42] Studio check-in and the concept blowing my mind right now
  • [2:25] Overcoming obligation in your studio
  • [8:57] What presence can do for your art practice and learning how to slow down
  • [21:55] The power of baby steps

Think intentional thoughts

I know it’s going to be a rough day when I walk into my studio with any flavor of the thought that this is something I HAVE to do. If I don’t intentionally try to notice those feelings and consciously decide I don’t ever want to be in a position where I’m not recognizing my own power, my mind will run rampant. I talk all the time about the need for a managed mind and curated thoughts, but nothing has made the importance of this concept clearer to me than the 100 Self-Portraits Challenge I’ve been posting to Instagram. Rather than relying on external motivators to accomplish this feat, I have committed to constantly reminding myself that I wanted to do this to explore the depths of my creativity and any negative mindsets can be put on the shelf.

Start where you are

I’ve learned to approach every new painting with the mindset that this is the first and last time I’m going to do this self-portrait. It allows me to start exactly where I am instead of looking back to the past at all the other portraits I’ve done before. We often use the past as a lens to determine what we’re going to paint in the future, but if we’re constantly looking back, we’ll never be able to move forward. We’ll be stuck making some version of the same thing over and over again. That’s why it’s so important to stay in the moment while you’re painting and stop comparing previous works to anything you’re doing now. Every painting should be a new experience for the artist. We need fresh eyes to grow, evolve, and make out-of-the-box decisions that defy our preconceived notions about what is possible for our current painting.

One step at a time

Another concept I talk about all the time that has become even more real through these self-portraits is the power of baby steps. When starting a new project, take it one step at a time. Small, incremental achievements compound into massive results if we have the patience for it. Rather than letting these portraits be an open-ended goal, I made decisions early on about how I would do the project and what the parameters and constraints needed to be. I intentionally made it easy on myself by ensuring that I was constantly taking baby steps. I set time constraints, and on days when I’m doing limited or single-stroke portraits, I’m also prepping my next canvas, making marks, and putting down layers on surfaces I know I will use later. This allows me to come back to what I’ve already done with a fresh perspective and a quick place to start.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

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