Do you have things in your life which distract you from art making? I think we all do to some degree. But, when things start to interfere with our ability to create, it may be time to take a step back and access our situation. Are you spending too much time online? Are you bringing home baggage from your day job, making it difficult to focus on creating art? Do you prefer to work in solitude, but have people distracting you often? Are things so hectic at home, that it takes a long time to complete pieces?
For many artists, it may be impossible to completely remove distractions – especially if these distractions are the ones we love the most. But, there are ways to cope, make better use of time and to deal with distractions throughout our day.
Image by Learning Fundamentals
Personally, I have many distractions. I do my blogging at home and painting in my home studio. Throughout my day, I am interrupted several times by my wife and kids. As other creative types will agree, it can be difficult getting back into “the zone” after being interrupted. My kids are always curious about what I am working on, and filled with questions. Of course I love spending time with them, but having my “work” at home has made it difficult to get things done.
So, this is what this post is about – how to cope with distractions as an artist. I am committed to several of these strategies myself – and they are helping me deal with all the distractions at home.
Go somewhere where you will not be distracted.
Maybe go to a park, or bring your sketchbook to a library. Incidentally, regularly visiting a library can be a great way of finding inspiration for artworks.
Also get some ideas from this post: Ideas for Using a Sketchbook
Work at night when everyone is asleep (or when the kids are at school).
I do most of my painting and blogging at night – when everything is quiet. I have no distractions from others and no ringing telephone. As I’m a “night person” anyway, I can get much done in the night-time.
Rent studio space or share a studio.
If you can afford this, it can be one of the best things you can do for your art career. Having your own studio outside of your home will hopefully free you of many of the distractions associated with home. In this way, you can treat your studio as your “regular” job, working there during the same time as most of the working world (9-5). This can possibly have the side benefit of others taking you more seriously as a working artist.
Turn off your computer (and phone).
I know the internet is great for inspiration and coming up with ideas - but while creating art, it can be a BIG distraction. If you are addicted to Facebook, you may be tempted to check updates every few minutes (speaking from experience here).
The best way I know of to deal with online distractions is to turn the computer off while creating art. Schedule time when you go online to promote art, check emails and interact with online friends. Of course, if the bulk of your work is online, you may have to be very disciplined with keeping to your schedule.
Depending on the art you do, this can be beneficial for minimizing distractions. If you create plein air sketches and then work on them in your studio afterwards, consider using your summer for painting plein air. Then, you will leave the winter months for working on these creations. If you like to sketch a lot, do most of this in the summer – then use your sketchbooks as inspiration in the winter months. If you have kids in school, leave the bulk of your work for the fall, winter and spring.
As much of my work has been based on the fishery, I spend much of the fishing season (spring and summer) sketching and photographing. I create the bulk of my work in the winter.
Work with distractions and not against them.
No matter what we do, we will always have distractions. Distractions are a part of life. If you are still continually distracted after trying some of these strategies, try to not stress yourself over it. In this case, try to work with the source of distraction instead of against it.
One thing I love to do is paint with my kids. I place an old table cloth on the kitchen table, and give a blank canvas to each of them. While I am painting, I ask each of them to paint anything they want. (read this post: Watching my Children Drawing)
There is also another way of looking at distractions. Since distractions are a part of life, they can be an opportunity for inspiration. Look at your distractions and see if there is something which can become a part of your art!
What about you? How have you dealt with distractions at home?
Please post your responses below.
Recommended reading: How to Overcome Creative Block