Artist Journey/Artist Journal

What is it we want in our creative lives? Why bother with art? Working as an artist, whether as a full-time vocation, a parttime avocation or an occassional when-I-can-fit-it-in whimsy takes some measure of commitment. It's far easier in this era of consumerism, digital distraction and financial pressure to sit on the sofa or under the covers with one or more devices pouring words, images, sounds, stories and distraction into our brains. Easier, that is, than using our hands and minds to make words, images, stories and sounds of our own. I don't make judgements about the tools used or the media -- paper and pen, digital camera and keyboard, cloth and dye, paint and canvas, tabletop and kitchen stove -- any will do. 

But I do think we all need to keep our creative selves alive and thriving. That some part of us withers and dies without exercise. And that takes a plan. That's why its become a tradition around El Cielo Studio to offer a workshop each January to allow me (and those who come for the facilitated experience) time to reflect, plan and set goals. Make calendars. Imagine what's needed to make it easier to get to the studio. 

I confess, my January calendar-making reminder forms don't often make it through the entire year (but I know one workshop participant who has been a faithful adherent to the format she set last year), but I do know that even a few months of on-target, on-track creative work gets me off to the start I need for the year. GIves me momentum and reminds me to keep at it. Whatever it is.

In preparation for the January 20-21 workshop (see the last post for the full calendar), I thought I'd share one of the exercises that has proven helpful and insightful for the process.

Where I am right now - Make a circular pie chart of your life as you are living it now:

1. Start with a circle on a large piece of paper.

2. Divide the circle into equal wedges for WORK, PLAY, ADVENTURE, CREATIVITY, BODY, MIND SPIRIT. (OR any other set of categories you prefer. (Or make two different circles if that makes more sense to you)

3. Draw, write, collage fast images from magazines, add colors, lines, patterns to each wedge. 

4. Put a dot, star or sticker in each wedge describing how satisfied or how much time and attention you spend in that sector of your life -- the closer to the center, the less satisfied or less time/attention; the closer to the circle edge, the more satisfied, the more time and attention you spend. You might even want to do these as two different dots or stars, if time and attention is not aligned with satisfaction (oftenr the case). Then connect your dots with a bold line. What shape are your dot-driven circles? How wobbly is your life? 

5. On a separate paper, or on the areas of the paper outside the circle, list 5 things you could do in the  coming year to even out your wobbly circles. 

I don't think our lives are always in balance in the short term. I don't even think they should be -- sometimes work or family or adventure takes over. But in the long term, we want satisfaction in each of these areas. And it takes work -- mostly attention --  to keep the wheel round, the circle spinning.