I’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity of life. Art can be chaotic at times, all that rushing around, hunting for your next subject, learning more about painting technique and experimentation (will explain later), and well so much more. Even if I wasn’t an artist, I would probably still have a chaotic mind. I don’t know if it’s some attention deficit disorder, but organizing that lump on my shoulders should come before any painting gets started.
I don’t mindlessly paint, there’s a lot of thought and left brain activity going on. It’s like an ongoing chess match. Half your brain does the thinking and the other half does the creating. Seems fair, right? So how can I simplify the chaos in my head before I start a painting?
For one, as soon as I get up, I meditate. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, it can do a world of good. I need to empty out the garbage going on, start with a fresh clean slate and not have any lingering thoughts that might get in the way of painting, or at least starting one.
I believe if you go into a painting with a negative train of thought, it will show up in your painting. Maybe your colors look dull or the composition isn’t very strong. Lots of times I look at my past work and I can emotionally remember how I was feeling at the time. It’s not full-proof, but most of the time, if I’m in a good mood, the colors start to sing, the composition’s looking good, and maybe I’ll take it to the next level of greatness. It’s not an ego thing, don’t you want to improve your work? I sure do. Why do art if you don’t want to improve as an artist.
So I’m trying new ways to simply my world. I was interested in this movement called “Minimalism”. It started around the time the recession hit, and some new train of thought was introduced. People were hungry to know how to live simply, not be in debt, not spend money on thoughtless garbage (you can insert here). I was interested to.
I bought a few e-books and read them about simplifying your life and business. There were some great ideas. Some of the most radical were to live with under 100 possessions. If I didn’t have all my art supplies and paintings, I would be close to that number I believe. I don’t own any furniture, have a few bags, a simple wardrobe. I even sold crap to make extra money, stuff I wouldn’t use or miss again.
I thought if I could have fewer possessions, I would feel less weighed down by my stuff. It’s true, and I like not having too much. I rent cheaply, own a used car with few repairs needed, I don’t have credit card debt or kids. Even though the Minimalism movement started a few years ago, I actually have been practicing my frugal lifestyle since the late 1990’s, when I first moved cross-country to New Mexico.
So I’m using art in different ways to complement my simple lifestyle. I have always used a limited palette of 3-4 colors. I paint on wood panels, sometimes with canvas. And thick enough I don’t need a frame, they look good on the wall as is. I can fit my paints, brushes and other things in a red knapsack. My french easel can go anywhere, I have always enjoyed that type of easel for portability reasons. But I did many outdoor shows and own outdoor fair equipment. I’m holding onto that for now, unless I sell my work online or do more commissions.
So art can be a more simpler venture if you can organize your own life. I would like to introduce a few of my “minimalist” friends whom I have great respect of their ideals. They’re incredibly intelligent, independent souls who are living their talk. They’re artists in their own right.
- Tammy Strobel (Rowdy Kittens) – Small home and car-free living is just the tip of this Portland, OR resident.
- Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) – One of the original founders of the zen blogging world, leads a simple life even with 6 kids and a wife!
- Everett Bogue (Far Beyond the Stars) – A savvy-minimalist yoga enthusiast who will show you how to live anywhere in the world with few possessions.
- Adam Baker (Man vs. Debt) – He will show you how to sell your crap, pay off your debt and do what you love.
- Chris Guillebeau (The art of non-conformity) – A rebel globe-trekker whom I purchased the book “Art & Money”. Pretty awesome stuff.
- Melissa Dinwiddie (Thriving Artists Project) – I have to mention her, because she has so much info on how to make a living as an artist. She has helped me on my pursuits, and I’m grateful.
So there’s my mega-post, share with a friend, sign up for my newsletter, or just comment on my post. Till next time!