Painting to Feel Rich

by JoAnne McFarland in Ways to Stay Motivated
I love the feeling making art gave me as a kid! I was mesmerized from the first moment I saw the paint colors and smelled the linseed oil. I loved setting up the wooden easel and the white painting panel, choosing my brushes, and figuring out what to paint.

Need Versus Want

In order to have this feeling as an adult, I’ve had to give up some things—having lots of living space, a car, cable tv, eating out a lot and going to clubs, vacations! I exist in long periods of solitude where nothing much seems to  happen.

Decide What to Keep

I’m very well
organized. I only keep a few things: enough dishes for myself and a few
friends, just as much food as I can eat in a couple of days,
comfortable, simple clothes, and a small library of beloved books (mostly
poetry). This way I don’t need to spend too much time keeping things in order.

The Rhythm of Creating

There is a rhythm to painting that you can find. It is very musical, in the sense that it is psychically soothing. I practice every day, so that my body can just do what it needs to do when my mind is stumped, when reason will not suffice. I move through time like I’m playing scales, a series of routines—the same path to the studio, the same music in the background while I work, the same place for lunch. I look for interruptions—the new person who says hi, jambalaya added to the cafe’s menu, and use that ‘derailment’ as a seed into a fresh way of seeing.

 Ways to Find Balance

Whenever I show my art, or publish a book, my goal is to make enough money to cover my expenses. I contact collectors who’ve supported me through the years, and offer them previews and special deals. I hold open studios a couple of times a year, and participate in readings. A flexible combination of outreach, time in the studio, and publication have allowed me to keep going.