Artists with a passion for their work rarely have a life outside it. Their lives revolve around the studio, creating better pieces, auditioning what they’ve created, and mostly being out there because of their work. Because how else do you want to become well-known without putting yourself out there? And this devotion to work only goes on to affect them in all other areas of their lives.
Are you an artist whose family complains they rarely see you? Your kids say they don’t have enough of you, or you feel you’re not where you should be in life because you place more emphasis on working than socializing and networking? How can you balance work and other aspects of your life as an artist?
Finding a balance can be tasking, especially if you’ve lived your life one way or if you’ve always used your art as an escape. The trials to see what works for you, the feeling of losing control of what you’ve always known, the jarring feeling that comes with leaving your comfort zone, and other things like that might make you hesitant to find a balance.
Ways to keep a balanced artist life are as follows:
Face the fears that are keeping you handicapped
What part of living outside of your studio scares you the most? Is it having to mingle with people and triggering your anxiety because you hate crowds? Or the fear of being called a freak because you don’t dress or act how people expect you to act? Is it because you fear getting attached to people and having them leave eventually?
Vincent Van Gogh, a posthumously famous painter, lived a tragic life and turned to art as a form of escapism. All his life he was rejected by the ones he loved, shamed for his mental state, and forced time and again to give up his dream–to be a priest.
Are you like Van Gogh? Have you been rejected and shamed in the past and now you’re tentative to go on to the world and live? Remember this line from a poem by Eric Hanson: “What if I fall? ‘Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?’”
A step at a time
You don’t have to see the whole way, as long as you can see the next step. If you’ve been on your own for a long time such that you now know what to expect from yourself and life to a large extent, living life outside of your studio will be hard. You’d want to know how everything will go so you don’t trigger your anxiety and life doesn’t knock you down.
Just like when you’re allowing a painting to lead you, allow life to lead you. Understand that the next stroke matters more than the whole painting. A stroke at a time will give you the painting you desire, but when you fret about how you want the painting to come out, you become overwhelmed and unable to take the first step.
Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. Old habits die hard
When you decide to create a balance, it would be difficult. Some days you’ll unconsciously slip into your old habit of not setting time for lunch or deciding to spend the night at the studio because you’re impatient to see how the painting you’re working on will turn out. That’s okay. Old habits die hard but, set boundaries.
“I am going to eat lunch at 2 pm every day while I’m at the studio, no matter how intrigued I am by what I’m working on.” “I will leave the studio by 7 pm every day. So I’ll set my timer for6 pm, giving myself enough time to get ready.” “I will be at the studio Mondays to Thursdays, the weekend will be for catching up with friends and family members.”
Boundaries like that. You can research apps that help you keep track of your promises to ourself and how you’re fulfilling them. If you don’t get it after the first two weeks, don’t give up. Change is hard, but it’s the only thing that is constant.