Motivation Part 1 - Alice Harpel

Posted on | Thursday, October 20, 2011 | No Comments

Being an artist is not like a regular 9-5 job. How many times have you gone to your studio or work space and sat there with a blank stare? This aspect of our work becomes a challenge when it comes to finding the motivation to trying to create new art on a regular basis. 

For this blog, rather than talk about my process of painting or my techniques for painting, I am focusing on what gets me motivated to paint on those days when nothing seems to come to mind or at those times when I feel less than enthusiastic about what I am creating. The ideas presented in this article are some of my ideas but many, if not most, are thoughts that I have read on other artists’ blogs, on, etc.

Needed for motivation: a challenge, a process, and a feeling of progress. 

The Challenge: 
  • We, as artists, must always add new work to our collections. As artists, we must be ready to leave our comfort zones because we can become bored if we create only what  makes us comfortable.  
  • Do not indulge in self-limiting painting. Do not make excuses for yourself as to why you cannot do a particular painting etc.
  • Never quit when you are frustrated - “success” is just around the corner. 
  • Make yourself accountable by making a commitment to enter a new art competition. Deadlines for art festivals/competitions may cause us to paint something different and at a faster, more productive rate. Indiana has many opportunities, not to mention the many online competitions listed on the internet. 
The Process:
  • The process should be easy, simple and without thinking, such as how we might set up our studios or work spaces. 
  • We should pay attention to those around us. Avoid negative people or people who only see art one way. Don’t let others outside your world give your paralysis. That will surely stifle creativity. Give yourself permission to not listen to those people.
  • Spending time in your studio will increase your productivity. Organizing your studio or workspace can be motivating. 
  • Set up your supplies for the next day. It will be easier to begin a project.
  • Do set goals--short, intermediate, and long term goals. This way you will know when you arrive. But just set one goal, not too many at a time. 
  • Put yourself in a frame of mind to create by “dressing” the part. Put on your favorite painting clothes.
  • Join a support group like a local art group. Search for Indianapolis or Lafayette to join other groups. You might try something different like a marketing group. 
  • Invite your neighborhood to your studio. People love to see where you work.
  • Take a workshop or class. And it can be on a topic that is related to art such as social media marketing, framing, etc. View free online videos such as those “snippets” on 
  • Host an “art exchange”. Bring work in a “brown bag or wrapper” and exchange with fellow artist.
  • Dare to dream big dreams. 
  • Create an art idea journal/notebook or bulletin board of ideas. Keep an art diary of things that inspire you. This becomes your “treasure chest” of ideas.
  • When is your “prime time” for creating?  Pay attention to your energy level. When do you paint your best? 
  • Reframe your art, maybe leaning to a more contemporary look. Give your art a new angle which can lead to a whole new series for your collection. 
  • Check the progression of the artists that you admire. Check their blogs. 
Check back for Part 2 of Motivation where process is continued as well as a feeling of progress. 

Alice Harpel is a studio artist at Athens of Indiana Arts Studios & Gallery
Stop in to see her work on the upper level of the gallery.


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