7 Ways To Stop Living In The Past Before It Kills Your Future Art Career

Pigment Landscape 3-Wave Copy 2

Marisa D. Aceves. Pigment Landscape 3: Wave

For more digital photography and painting check out my site at acevesart.com

You know that feeling when you desperately want to move forward with your art career, but you just can’t seem to push those nagging insecurities, irrational fears and unsavory past events out of your mind.

“It’s ridiculous,” you tell yourself.

There is no apparent reason why the past should get in the way of the present, but inevitably it does.

Cleverly covering up your pessimistic view of the world, your art and the people in your life, you naively push your discomfort and general dissatisfaction down so that no one sees that you are effected by a crippling career killing enigma that few people understand, yet many experience, getting stuck in the past.

The daily pattern generally begins with comparing your present earnings with those of other artists working in the same medium.

You then bemoan the fact that they have probably finished their series before you have; yours is taking so much time to complete that you are not really sure exactly when it’s going to get done.

 Breathing heavily as you sigh with the passing of each ego deflating thought, you finally begin to give your precious studio time to mentally reliving all the career mistakes you have made and all the negative interactions  you’ve had with past clients, professors, friends family and acquaintances.

Does your future have to look like your past?

Can you ever gain the respect and recognition you want so badly.

Will you ever move beyond the vicious cycle of negativity that keeps you trapped in a way back machine with no exit door in sight?

There is a door that leads to the present, if you choose to dwell here, but you have to make an honest effort to leave past land behind.

Stepping into the present after you have mentally lived in the past is never easy, but by strategically addressing those areas that steal your peace, sleep and overall confidence, you can learn to stay focused on the things that you need to do to make your career happen.

1) Don’t Marinate In The Past, Plan For The Present So You Can Have a Future – There are few things that can make you more anxious then not knowing which activities you need to finish first.  Lack of structure can cause you to feel confused and hurried. As a result, you can’t enjoy the art you love to do or gain the exposure that you desire because you have never made a decision to write down the goals that you wish to reach in each area of your art business. There are some areas you will need to address immediately before you decide to tackle larger more complicated projects. An added bonus to making a list of all of the goals that you will need to meet to give your art business a better chance at success, is that after you reach a goal, you can check it off your list. This will give you a feeling of satisfaction as you can see in real time that you actually are moving forward.

2) Stop Hiding And Go Seek – While you might prefer to spend all of your time creating art, you need to reach out to your local arts community as well as looking for appropriate venues to showcase your art.  It is easy to worry about not having the skills to take the opportunities that you see around you.  Don’t aim for the opportunities for which you are not yet qualified, but do seek out those opportunities that are within or appropriate to you specific level of ability and experience. Remind yourself this will change as you grow in skills and experience.

3) Move It Or Lose The Day To Negativity – An overabundance of negativity can eventually lead to procrastination and inactivity.  Instead of beating up on yourself every time you feel that you are not moving fast enough or planning is taking too long, consider the things that you can get done at the moment.  For instance, if one of your paintings is taking a long time to dry because of stormy weather, you could tweak your artist statement, research current art world trends, or prepare packages to ship to galleries. What you are working on at the moment may not be what you want to be doing, but at least you are taking care of other important areas of your art business.

4) Study Don’t Worry – Spending hours worrying about whether or not you are good enough to have your own art business wastes time. All the worry in the world won’t improve your skills only diligent study and preparation. There is no easy way to do this, but you can encourage yourself by realizing that over time you will improve your style and technique.

5) Meditate On Criticism That Is Constructive Not Destructive – None of us like to be criticized, but when it gets downright nasty, the sting is often hard to forget. While you may not like people telling you how and in what way you need to improve, it’s necessary for growth.  Focus on positive constructive criticism, the kind where the people that are giving the critique have you best interest at heart not the destructive type in which people tear you apart and berate your artwork  just to make themselves feel better. Clearly, in these particular cases it is the art bullies own insecurities that result in vicious behavior.

6) Eat Your Humble Pie, But Don’t Undervalue Your Abilities- One of the quickest ways to become resentful is to undervalue you abilities and your artwork.  When you make a practice of constantly giving away or undercharging for you work, people will get the impression that you don’t place much value on what you do. Unscrupulous people will gleefully take advantage, while nicer folks will scratch their heads in disbelief and then either forget about what you do or question your credibility.

7) Take A Realistic Not Surrealistic Perspective On The Things That Are Holding You Back- If you are prone to negativity, you probably catch yourself blowing everyday frustrations our of proportion. Throughout the course of your career, you will always find some things that you will need to work on. Make an honest effort to view these daily frustrations and occasional setbacks as they really are not as you feel they are. When you learn to separate your feelings from the actual events that are taking place, you can then come up with a plan to work on and eventually overcome these areas of difficulty.

 The past is called the past because it happened before this moment; it is not happening in this moment unless you decide you want to live there. While the past, although sometimes miserable, is familiar, the present offers new chances to establish better more productive practices that can change the way you function and view your role as an artist.

What Is Your Artistic Legacy?

Grandmother's House 1st Bedroom

 

Marisa D. Aceves. Grandmother’s House: 1st Bedroom. digital photography

Years from now…legacy

article by Marisa D. Aceves

For the last three months our minds, hearts, and lives have been tied up in preparing Eloisa’s house for sale.

Although things have slowed down considerably, I have still managed to find solace in faithfully recording some small treasures and a few rooms that remind me of my grandmother’s love.

We will make the long trip to her house again this coming week, but the journey will be a bittersweet one.

Potential buyers will traipse through the long corridor with its’ gold linoleum floors, gradually making their way through the living room, bedroom, kitchen and bath.

Eloisa was not her house; it was only a place she occupied for a certain period of time.

She has been gone for fourteen years, yet our memories of her remain.

It is not as though she sat up one day and announced that she was going to have a wonderful life and endear herself to many of the people that she came into contact with, but that is exactly what she did and all within the small, intimate confines of a typical Texas neighborhood.

The world may find the existence of an ordinary housewife boring even inconsequential.

“There’s not much of a story to tell”, they’d say under their breath preferring to read and write about flamboyant, drunken playwrights or headstrong, oversexed politicians.

There is a story to tell.

While the majority of the world may lack the imagination to see the overlooked beauty and profoundness of everyday occurrences, my grandmother knew that it is a series of small moments that make up our lives not just a couple of huge, game changing events.

If we can maintain a constant attitude of gratefulness for each and every second we are blessed to experience, we will never lose the child-like sense of wonder that leads to happiness.

She grew up sheltered from the persistent pessimism of her day.

Simple swatches of left-over wrapping paper were saved fastidiously, but not out of fear that she would not have enough of the everyday necessities we often take for granted.

“Someone else will need them!,” she would say as she carefully cut the small pieces of tape that sealed her latest birthday present, gently folding the paper into a neat rectangle for a neighbors future use.

Whenever someone was hungry, she always had beans, buttery tortillas and pinched star cookies ready to take home.

My grandmother lived her life for others; the majority of the things she did or said revolved around what was best for them.

She never judged you because you had problems; she would always pray for you and give you a big hug when you were ready to leave.

Eloisa’s legacy was a life of unconditional love and acceptance; it was a life steeped in spiritual simplicity.

Our legacy might be a different one than my grandmother’s, but all of us have an intense longing to be loved and remembered.

We want to know that somehow in this crazy, unpredictable world we made a difference.

What is your artistic legacy?

Is your work a way of life?

Does it illustrate your dreams, fears, and hopes?

What does it reveal about the way you view yourself and others?

Will you make a name for yourself and die lonely, or will you end this life with gratitude surrounded by friends and family?

Can you really have it all or do you believe you must sacrifice everything for your art?

These are questions only you can answer?

Perhaps your legacy will be based on a mantra you invent when you’re sixteen years old or maybe like Eloisa you will simply live an artful life that speaks for itself.