I generally prefer audio books as a background in my studio. I have listened to hundreds of art histories, biographies, mysteries and true crime stories, plowing through series after series. I have always needed a bit of escapism to occupy my inner critic as I work, but lately I prefer silence.
At the beginning of quarantine when life became strange and frightening, I turned once again to meditation (and Ben & Jerry). I had exactly zero success with mediation up to this point, but during the repetitive circumstances of lockdown, I began a modest practice that began to help with my anxiety and focus.
A funny thing has happened after months of meditation. It has crept into my studio! When I am working, I often prefer silence. I am happily conscious of being in the moment and I don’t need to drown out that voice, in fact, I think I may have made friends with my inner critic. Well, more like a friendly acquaintance I chat with, and sometimes tell very nicely to shut up.
Meditation is a process that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But you could try switching up your painting soundtrack or turning it off all together. Maybe In the quiet you can have a nice polite chat with your inner critic too.
January in the studio can be slow. Some artists begin each year by clearing the decks, cleaning and organizing their workspaces. Others are brimming with many new ideas and excited to get back to work after a holiday break but are not sure where to start. When I want to refocus my art practice anytime of the year and I like to create or join an online challenge. This gives me accountability, structure and permission to play. To create an online challenge you only need social media, an idea and a hashtag such as #30in30 or #my2021art. Challenges can be any length 21, 30, 100 or even 365. You could even do it daily for years.
If thats not for you, search for a challenge run by another artist. Sometimes this requires you to sign-up and post your work on a specific site. Using the site you may be able to interact with other artists and give and receive feedback. Months with 30 days such as January and September are popular times for organized challenges. You don't have to limit yourself to the art you practice or even art at all. You could try a new medium, a sketchbook challenge or simply take a photo of your easel day and do a documenting my process challenge.
Whatever you choose, keep it simple and don't worry if you miss a day, just keep going and see what happens.
Over the years I have collected many art practice tips. When I feel tight and off track I use this list to loosen up my painting.