Welcome to a new week. Are you ready to delve into part two of: making a commitment to listen as a way to cultivate inspiration as artists? If you missed part one, read it here.
First of all, this is hard at anytime. But especially during busier times in our lives, listening takes incredible amounts of intention. Whether it’s our schedules or simply the things coming at us (advertisements, cultural noise, etc.), listening is not for the faint of heart.
But—listen we must, if we want to grow. Here’s the focus this week: listening to the voices and work (others have produced) that has gone before you. There is no shame in this. In fact, it’s more shameful not to listen to those who have created before us. This is like any conversation we want to enter in life, it’s best to listen before we just start talking. Because, if we want others to listen to our tales, to our inspiration, to our art then we must become listeners—it will show if we aren’t.
Don’t be afraid of this. A common refrain among artists is “I don’t want to study (others) because I am afraid I will lose my own voice.” There is only one you in the entire universe, the more you work in applying yourself to your craft, including knowing the arena you enter, the less you have to fear. Believe more in the purposefulness of who you have been created to be than in the possibility that can be lost. It will be lost quicker by our lack of intention and attention than it will by careful listening. The more you apply the knowledge of others in your art, the more you are able to express yourself.
Here’s how Raynna and I state it in Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration: “I commit to listening to the work, the conversation I join, and to those who know me, believing there’s a bigger purpose as an artist than I might know on my own.” It was a challenge to compact so many big ideas into one sentence, the most important however is the underlying reason: we are born for a purpose—I’ve dismissed this truth in the past, but that just resulted in a loss of time. So let’s do the hard work of believing it now until it’s not so hard anymore. Anyone up for taking that challenge—believing your importance enough to listen to others?
Have a great weekend everyone. Create, be happy, keep creating,
Subscribe to get the free one page PDF: Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration. My wife and I have packed it full for you.
Please share this with anyone else you think may be encouraged by these kind of updates. Thanks!
In Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration I talk about three specific areas we need to have our ears turned on:
1) Listening to the work,
2) Listening to the work of the genre you want to join. Think of it like a conversation already in process at a gathering. When you walk up to join you shouldn’t just start talking without first listening. And last, but definitely not least,
3) Listening to those who know you, and by that I mean, care about you as well.
All three of these needs have one big truth they rest firmly atop and that is this; there’s a bigger purpose to being an artist than we know on our own.
As I come into another work week I’m turning my thoughts towards the first kind of listening I note above, the work of listening to the work. What does it mean to listen to the work?
Listening to the work is what happens when you are no longer an artist or a writer or an anything because it’s “cool” but rather because you were created to do it, for a purpose that’s bigger than yourself. In many ways, this work goes on behind the scenes of the work of the everyday.
”We must work everyday, whether we feel like it or not, otherwise when it comes time to get out of the way and listen to the work, we will not be able to heed it.” —Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
Listening to the work is more than a singular, isolated event, it’s a continual cultivation/action. In the same way a farmer can’t harvest his field without the prior work of ground preparation and sowing seeds, neither can we as artists listen to our work, if there is no body of work to listen to. I don’t mean published, polished or completed works, I simply mean work, practice, actual doing-ness in physical reality, not only our “one days”.
We have all wanted inspiration to come down out of the sky and, it does, regularly. Think of it like rain. How much better is it for rain to fall on ground turned, prepared and with seeds in it, than unturned and unprepared? Growing as an artist means understanding our own part in this process, grasping the reality that inspiration can be cultivated. I’m not speaking of manufacturing something—that would be the opposite of listening/receiving. I’m speaking of preparing yourself to be inspired. I’m speaking of being found ready and faithful. When the rain comes, make sure your ground is ready.
I shared these words last week from Diana Pavlac Glyer, “…creativity itself is a messy business. We want to think of it as linear and efficient, but in actuality, it is full of false starts, dead ends, long hours, setbacks, discouragement, and frustrations. Knowing that it works this way can help us be more patient with our own untidy processes.” I believe it can also strengthen our perseverance knowing that all of these challenges, common to artists of every flavor, eventually lead us to a place of being able to listen to the work. It helps me.
What do you do if you can’t hear anything? Don’t give up. Don’t give in to self-hate. The hard fought battles are the worthy ones, right? Right.
Giveaway time! Thanks to everyone who jumped on board with me this week! If you haven’t got your copy of my one page PDF, Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration, subscribe to my blog here and it’s yours. I’ll be unpacking it here for the next few months, and I hope it will be a big encouragement to you.
As for the giveaway of the first chapter of my western fairytale comic Adventures of Tomy and Jon book and a MrJayMyers Color Me coloring book, here are the winners:
If I haven’t contacted you personally yet, I’ll be in touch soon to get those to you. Thanks everyone! I enjoyed that.
More Recent Art:
I’ve been continuously using my new Derwent Watercolor Colored Pencils this week, and really, really like them. You can use them dry, but mixing them with water results in a highly blendable, vibrant ink. There’s 36 in this set for $23.76, from Amazon, which I wanted to tell you about because it ended up being the best deal at the end of a hunt for me including going to Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon as well as Dick Blick’s .
In my search, however, I also came across these other Derwent Colored Pencils (not watercolor) and a 24 pack this time, but marked down by 61% it’s regular price. I have always found Derwent to make a quality tool, so I wanted to mention these to any of you who use colored pencils as a medium of choice or if you know someone else who does. Colored pencils get expensive but these are going for more than half off right now. Normally $51.99, they are currently only $20.30, and Prime if you’ve got that. Good deal on good pencils.
I always want to disclose to you that I do use affiliate links on the products I recommend but never at any extra cost to you and never just to make money. I’ll only recommend products I believe in. Thanks for your trust. My full disclosure policy is here if interested.
Have a great week everyone. Create, be happy, keep creating,
Don’t forget to subscribe to get the free one page PDF: Thirteen Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration. My wife and I have packed it full for you.
Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!