What being an artist means to me

It took me a long time to figure it out, but being an artist means everything to me. I fought against this identity. When I finally surrendered, life got a whole lot easier.

If you’ve struggled or fought against your own creative calling, keep going to read the article. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.

Image credit: Hilary Clark – detail view of “Crushed”

The journey…

Being an artist means everything to me. It’s who I am. But I didn’t always know this. In fact, I spent years actively denying it to myself.

Being an artist didn’t feel practical. It wasn’t a logical move. I questioned my ability to make an income. I wondered how I’d ever find the time to make art while working a full time job.

I came up with tons of excuses about why I couldn’t possibly be an artist. I even chose to take another career path in my obstinance, one that was just as distracting to creative thought.

Initially, I thought I’d be a writer, penning New York Times bestselling novels with ease. I’ve always loved to write, beginning with an introduction to poetry writing in the 4th grade, then creative writing classes in high school and college. I write well. I can tell a compelling story. I thought novel writing would be a breeze.

It wasn’t. I found myself resistant to writing, to putting my butt in the seat and fingers to keyboard. I’d get a good start with a plot, then it would die out for lack of imagination on where the characters might go next.

So I decided I wasn’t meant to be a writer, of fiction novels at least, because I told myself I didn’t have what it took to carry a plot line through 300 pages.

From novelist to children’s book writer…

When I gave up on writing novels, I thought, oh, I’ll write children’s books instead – they’re shorter; my imagination can carry a story line through to the end. I love fantastical creatures, so writing books to captivate children felt simple.

And I wrote one – for my niece as a gift for her 5th birthday. And I started another for my nephew that remains unfinished because he grew older and fell out of interest in superheroes.

So then I told myself I wasn’t qualified to write children’s books because I don’t have children of my own.

From writer to life coach…

I set writing aside, pretending I’d given it a good try and pretending it didn’t hurt my heart just a little bit to give up on my lifelong dream to write books. And I went on a quest to find another career.

I found life coaching. I got educated on what it means to be a life coach. I practiced and coached and tapped into all the personal growth I’d done on myself to help others. I found coaching satisfying – when the light bulb goes off for a client can be incredibly joyful.

But it wasn’t creative and it felt very much like it was in the way of what I really wanted to do.

Admitting it…

For over 20 years, I’ve been creating with my sewing machine. I started with traditional lap quilts, then began to make art quilts of my own design, and about 6 years ago, I shifted to what I call textured fiber paintings – densely stitched abstract fiber pieces.

Through my corporate career, through my exploration around being a writer, through my journey to train and practice as a coach, I continued to make my fiber pieces.

That’s all I really wanted to do. In fact, I thought becoming a coach would be the path to allow me more time to create my fiber art. But coaching didn’t. It distracted me instead.

And still I struggled and fought against calling myself an artist.

Then my partner and I moved across country in the middle of a pandemic and something shifted inside me. A door opened and through it, I saw opportunity. I saw that my struggle and fight were exhausting and it was time to surrender.

So I did. I surrendered so I could accept who I really am – an artist. I’m an artist who creates feelings out of fiber and it is everything.

A life of grace, ease, and lightness…

Eckhart Tolle wrote in The Power of Now, “To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness.”

That’s what being an artist feels like to me – a life of grace, ease, and lightness.

From the moment I surrendered to my calling, that of being an artist, everything got simpler. My mind exploded with creative ideas. I began to explore other ways to make art, like drawing and painting, which had previously held little interest because I believed I wouldn’t be any good at them.

My mood shifted from a state of frequent quiet gentle melancholy to one of constant simmering joy.

Most surprising of all, the story line for a novel came to me, complete with characters, the plot path, and easy breezy writing time with my butt in my seat and my fingers on the keyboard.

Being an artist means everything to me. It’s who I am.

But I never would have found this joy if I’d continued resisting what my heart knew.

In closing…

So many of us spend some portion of our lives struggling against what our deepest inner knowing calls us to be and do. I spent most of my adult life in that struggle. And then I stopped resisting and everything became easy.

If you’ve fought and struggled against what your deepest inner knowing is calling you to be or do, especially if it’s a creative calling, I’m here to tell you it’s time to surrender. In fact, I’m here to help you get there. Part of my definition of myself as an artist includes helping others who’ve struggled to claim that same definition for themselves. I can help you release the resistance and find your state of ease.

I promise you, when you let the struggle go, it will mean everything.

P.S. If you could use help to surrender to your creative calling, get in touch and we’ll set up time to talk about what I call The Hilary Method, my process to help you become more productive and proactive so you can be more creative.

P.P.S. If you liked what you read (or watched if you chose the video), please share with the one person you absolutely know would like it too!

I’m a lazy artist

The other day, I was speaking with a friend and I said, “I’m a lazy artist.” She asked what I meant by that; I thought I’d share what I said with you too.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re too lazy to do the creative thing that calls you, or conversely, you wish you could be lazy but you feel like you’re too busy, keep going to read the article. If you’re rather watch and listen, jump to the video at the end.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

What I mean by lazy…

What I mean when I say I’m a lazy artist is I don’t want to work all the time, 8 or more hours a day and on weekends.

I cherish my down time. I cherish my self-care time. And I cherish my family time.

Because these pockets of time are so important to me, I’ve sometimes felt conflicted about having enough time to make my art, which is also critical to my well-being.

I’m a maker, a creative first and yet, I’m always seeking alignment between my calling and my personal and family needs. So for a while, I fought my laziness.

Doing that, fighting my laziness, backfired on me. I ended up feeling resentful towards the thing I most enjoy doing, being an artist.

So something had to change.

Embracing the lazy…

That change began with a decision to embrace the lazy, to stop trying to be someone I’m not.

Then I took two steps to set myself up for success, which you can do too.

These steps are:

    • Give yourself permission to be yourself
    • Put systems and structure in place to allow you to be productive and proactive

Give yourself permission…

The first step to success as a lazy creative is to give yourself permission to be yourself. Here’s what this looked like for me:

I’m a slow mover in the morning and always have been. But I was pushing myself as an artist and creativity trainer to get up and get moving as if I still had a corporate job. I was forcing myself to get up earlier than I like (around 4:30 AM), to rush through my shower, to shovel down breakfast, and be at my desk or in my studio by 7 AM. This left no time for self-care, which for me is journaling, meditation, and exercise, all of which I know I must do at the start of my day or they won’t happen.

So after deciding to embrace my lazy, I gave myself permission to be myself. I get up at 6 AM and journal for 20 minutes. I eat breakfast and catch up on social media and email. I meditate for 10 minutes, then I go for a 2 mile walk. I come home, I shower, and then I start my work day around 9:30 AM.

I work until I’m done, with the goal of never working past 5 PM, so I can relax before making dinner, and then enjoy down time with my partner in the evening, which includes reading and the occasional show.

Your permission will look different than mine. You’ll need to get clear on what’s important to you so you can choose what your lazy looks like.

Systems and structure…

The second step is to put systems and structure in place so you can be your most productive and proactive in the time you have available to you. Giving yourself permission to be yourself is important. To pull it off, however, this step is critical.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been able to complete my work in less time than others (and my results were stellar, so it’s not like I was cutting corners). What this meant was I accomplished more in four to six hours than others did in eight.

When I remembered this about myself, I realized I could continue to embrace my lazy even as an artist. All I needed to do was set up systems and structure, much like I’d done throughout my corporate career.

I’m a productivity and time management geek. One of my personal mantras is “work smarter, not harder”. I’m an expert at designing solutions and finding efficiencies where others only see obstacles and an endless road. So I decided to apply these skills to my own art career.

One of the most valuable structures I use is time blocking. It allows me to divide my work into similar chunks so I can focus on one thing at a time. I have two full days for administrative work, which includes creating and scheduling my marketing content. I have three full days for making art in my studio. By using time blocking, the pressure fell away to do all the things on all the days. Now, if I want to make art on a Saturday or Sunday, I do it for the joy of it, not because I didn’t have time during the week.

One of the most valuable systems I use is a task app. I use Todoist, where I dump every single to do that pops into my head. Each week, I go through it (I’ve got it organized into work segments) and schedule my work for each day of the following week. I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do on a given day or what topic I’ll write about for my weekly article – I’ve stored it all in Todoist. My lazy artist brain is free to be creative because it’s not loaded down with tasks and projects.

These are just two examples of the systems and structures I use. There are loads more out there to choose from, which means what I use might not be right for you.

In closing…

I’m a lazy artist. But by granting myself permission to be myself and then putting systems and structures in place that allow me to be my most productive, proactive, and creative, I’ve found success.

If this is something that calls to you, I can help. I work with people just like you who feel too lazy to do the creative thing that calls, or conversely, feel too busy. I work with you to grant yourself permission to be yourself and then train you on the systems and structures that’ll be most effective for your situation. Whether you want to insert creative time into your day, or you just want to be more productive and proactive at work, creativity training can help.

P.S. If you could use help to embrace your lazy, get in touch and we’ll set up time to talk about what I call The Hilary Method, my process to help you become more productive and proactive so you can be more creative.

P.P.S. If you liked what you read (or watched if you chose the video), please share with the one person you absolutely know would like it too!

Studio Update: April 2020

I missed a studio update in March but I had a great reason.  At the end of February, my partner received a job offer that required relocation from Chicago, Illinois to West Palm Beach, Florida.  March was spent preparing for and executing the move.  Thankfully, his new employer included payment for this relocation as part of his job offer so we purged and someone else packed, loaded, and shipped.  We’ve settled into our new home (renting for a while) and he’s going to work daily.  He works in construction, which is an essential business during the corona virus pandemic.

View from the back porch at the old house. Brrr!
View from the back porch at the new house. Yay!

I already worked from home for myself as a Leadership Trainer and Coach, so I just shifted to a new room in a new house.  However, the cross country move in the middle of a shelter-in-place pandemic also shifted my thinking about that business.  The whole reason I wanted to work for myself was to have the freedom to make more art.  And yet, building a business requires a great deal of time.  Art making didn’t go up.  And that hurt my heart.  I’m processing what it is I really want to do with my training and coaching business.  In the meantime, I’m upping my creative making time and I’m back in the studio.

When I’m not in the studio working on my latest textured fiber painting and not working on my coaching business, I’m mapping out a plan to build an art business, as opposed to or in addition to, the coaching business (that’s part of what I’m processing).  I’ve started writing a novel.  I’m developing digital wall art using messages I receive from my meditations.  I’m considering creating wall art from my poetry and from famous poets.  I may offer embroidered pieces with inspirational statements.  I’m absolutely going to create a guided journal to help inspire personal growth.  I’m brainstorming a LOT of art ideas and I’m thinking about how and where I want to offer them for sale.  I’ll keep you posted here and on social media (if we’re not connected on Facebook or Instagram, let’s fix that, OK?)  Links to each are here:

Facebook (Personal)
Facebook (Art Page – Hilary Clark Studios)
Instagram

For now, my big project is my latest textured fiber painting, (Feeling) Isolated.  The other day, I realized my textured fiber painting Feeling series has been built off the empathy hits I get from the Global Human Collective when it’s time to choose a feeling for the next piece.  For example, I made Grief in the first couple months of this year; a feeling that was sitting deep inside the Collective and which has risen to prominence during these #quarantimes.  Now I’m making Isolated (which is a pretty obvious connection 😊).

Isolated – Canvas
(c) Hilary Clark
Isolated – Mono Print
(c) Hilary Clark
Isolated – Progress
(c) Hilary Clark

Watch this space for news about my art business decisions, updates on new work, and musings on living a creative life.

Next up: I’ll continue work on Isolated.  Full reveal expected in May.  And I’ll continue to brainstorm and create other offerings.

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Info about my Feelings series: I interpret my random abstract doodles as emotions.  The guiding point is the outer boundary of the doodle.  The boundary evokes the feeling and is based on the empathetic connection I feel to the Global Human Collective.  From there, I contemplate how to bring that particular feeling alive in fiber to reflect the emotion most prevalent within the Collective at the time the feeling is chosen.

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My art is my work and the majority is for sale.  Please visit my Gallery to view the items for sale.  If you’re interested in purchasing any of my creations, please contact me via this site.

Thanks for visiting my studio!