Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Taking It Easy

design for the new sign I'm getting from Objectify Homeware

Being a serious artist with a full-time day job is hard work. It's like having two jobs. I already knew that working at an intense pace could take a toll on my mental health. I've burned myself out many times before. But last year it also took a toll on my physical health. I caught a cold that never really went away and then developed into pneumonia. For three days I came to work, even though I was so exhausted that it took me so long to get dressed that I had to take a cab to get there on time. Once I finally saw a doctor and got my shocking diagnosis, I committed myself to 7 days of convalescence.

Since then, I have realized that I've been working too hard. The week before I got sick, I was applying to literary agencies like crazy and not getting enough sleep. And before that, I was studying like crazy for Jeopardy, and before that, I was working on my novel like crazy, and before that, working on commissioned artwork, and before that, I was working on my screenplay like crazy, and all year long, I was applying to art shows like crazy. But all the while it never occurred to me that I could relax and take it easy. I'd hurry to my studio on the second Friday of each month, rushing to get things set up in half an hour, riding a wave of stress and adrenaline, trying to convince myself I work well under pressure. Well maybe I do, but that doesn't mean that I have to.

And so that's why this year I have decided I'm going to take it easy. From now on, unless it's a very, very, very special occasion, my open studios will start at 7 instead of 5 or 6. And as for art shows, I am opting for quality over quantity this year. Last year I think I did some really exciting shows, but at times I felt like I might be spreading myself too thin. I have some big plans for this year, but I don't want to wear myself out executing them. So, as a result, I will not do as many art shows.

One show that I participated in last year paid me to display my artwork and even sent a messenger service to pick it up and return it once the show ended. I'd like to get to the point where that's the rule and not the exception. It would make things so much easier. After all, isn't it hard enough being an artist without also being hard on myself?


  1. Wow, you sound like you are naturally fully of energy! That's great. I know doing too much can run one down, so I wish you peace and rest when and where required. Have a happy New Year!

    1. Thanks so much, Eve! I hope you have a great year, too.

  2. I love the sign! I am awfully impressed with all you are doing - very ambitious - and it sounds like you are definitely due a rest. But I think you are doing it right (even if you may need to work regular rest times into your hectic schedule). The truth is that if you don't do it now, it won't get done.

    In the past I have had the opposite problem from you. I felt there was all the time in the world and I let too much time pass without action. Although I am much more action oriented now (and therefore more stressed!) in the recognition that life does not last forever, I still have a tendency to stop when I am the least bit tired.

    I heard a good interview on the Modern Art Notes podcast with Eric Fischl. If I remember right he says that he tries to get a whole bunch of works done before he commits to a show date and that decreases his stress considerably and increases the quality of his work.

    Great post - great issues. Hope it is the beginning of a great happily and healthily exhausting year!

    1. Very true, Dan. I don't want to put things off either. What you shared about Eric Fischl is interesting. It's similar to what I am doing this year, in that I have set a date for my solo show and am working towards it.


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