Women artists think they need to do everything and do everything well. You take on the troubles of friends and family and rarely say no to a request for help. Even though you are committed to your art practice you let others’ needs replace your own.
We know that artists require space and time and freedom. Yet the painters Elizabeth Murray and Kara Walker were able to have children as well as remarkable art careers. Agnes Martin eventually had to retreat into her singular self in order to produce great art. These artists teach us that there is no one model for combining creativity with a full personal life.
Be clear with yourself about your needs, and own them without apology. Let the people in your life know what you’re trying to accomplish, and then talk with them honestly about the support you need.
Start making conscious choices about how you manage your time. An artist I know recently decided to hide her cell phone in the garage for long periods every day so that it didn’t constantly distract her. Another decided to “unsubscribe” to a number of commitments that no longer made sense to him.
Sometimes your choices are symbolic. A young artist in Vermont, eight months pregnant with her first child, set up a corner of her living room as a new studio space, even though it would be months before she was ready to work there. Her choice gave her a daily visual reminder of the future she intended to create.
To shape a life and career as an artist means that you sometimes have to say no to other demands, even though you may disappoint people you care about. Be consistent, be clear, be kind, then let go of the guilt and claim yourself.
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
As an artist coach, I bring a unique combination of business knowledge, art world experience, and professional coaching skill to my practice.