The Duty of an Artist

America Martin, artist, duty, create, hope, light, art, dream

The life of an artist is often romanticized but the truth is that it’s full of uncertainties and doubts.  Sometimes we wonder about purpose.  Sometimes we doubt the direction the creative path is taking.  Sometimes we ask, “What’s the point?”  Sometimes we wonder if it’s worth it or if anyone cares.

While reading the autumn addition of Where Women Create (a beautiful magazine about and for artists), I read a quote by artist America Martin that struck me with such truth that I had to read it again and again.  And I wanted to share it with you.

She said,

Being able to live as a working artist is my most significant personal achievement, but “success” and “disappointment” are what I call “outside terms,” which cannot be let into the arena of being an artist. Those words represent intentions that mar and are counter to the true purpose of being an artist. For any true love there is neither success nor disappointment.  When you really love something, I believe there is only duty.  The artist’s duty is to make his or her art, to do it any way he or she can, small or large scale.  When you do what you love most, it is like a small light of hope for other hearts; it creates encouragement.  It creates a community, a tribe of others who dare to dream.

Wow.  The truth in those words took my breath away.

Your art matters.  It matters to you first, but it matters to those around you who have a dream, even if you don’t know it.  They have a passion.  They have a desire.  They have a longing that is yet unfulfilled.  And they see you doing what you love.  You are an artist because you create art.  Without art, the light of who you are fades.  The artist is nothing without her art.

Your art is beautiful.  But what’s more beautiful is the beauty of a realized artist.  You have no idea who you are inspiring.  No matter what your perceived level of success is in the business of art, you have a duty to continue.  Full time, part time.  Large scale, small scale.  You and your art, your persistence and your perseverance may be the thread of hope on which someone else’s dream hangs.  You become his or her motivation and inspiration.  You. The artist.

Don’t stop.  Don’t waver.  Don’t doubt.  You have a duty to create.

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Beat Procrastination with Work That Matters – Words of Wisdom

work that matters, procrastination, motivation, complete, finish

work that matters, procrastination, motivation, complete, finish

Unfinished projects. It’s a common theme among creatives.  You have grand ideas, longing desires, spikes of energy, but often fail to finish.  Something comes up.  Doubt creeps in.  The enthusiasm leaves.  The project is left hanging in a state of limbo like so many others in your past.

We often blame our lack of drive on procrastination.  It’s a big word that seems to cover a multitude of inner struggles.  It also lets us off the hook mentally.  After all, some people are just born organized.  Some poor souls are procrastinators by nature.

Procrastination happens due to a variety of factors.  Being “born that way” isn’t one of them.  Most often, it’s a lack of motivation.  The reason to finish isn’t there anymore.  You’ve lost interest.  You don’t care about it as much as you told yourself.

When you don’t have a big enough reason to finish, you won’t.  Now, your reason may be different than someone else’s, but whatever gets you fired up and puts you in motion is reason enough.  Maybe it’s money.  Maybe it’s freedom.  Maybe it’s the thought of making a difference or becoming famous.  There is no right or wrong reason to be creative.  Whatever your motivation is, it’s yours.

However, you may talk yourself into a motivating reason that’s not right for you.  If you’ve tried to convince yourself that money is the reason you must work on a project, but really what you want is fulfilling work, money will never be enough to get you through to the end.

Don’t talk yourself into a reason that doesn’t ring true with you. Stay true to yourself.  No matter what.

We all have a boxes, files, or attics full of unfinished works.  Creative skeletons in our closet.  It wouldn’t hurt to go through them one more time and figure out why you put it down. What was the hang-up?  If you find a project just don’t resonate with you, let it go, find a new home for it, paint over it, or toss it out.

Don’t let unfinished projects make you feel guilty or take up space in your mind or studio anymore.  Work on the things that set you on fire and put you in motion.  Because that’s what you’re supposed to be doing anyway.

What sort of work sets you on fire and gives you enough motivation to finish?  What projects are you going to let go?  I’d love for you to share in the comments.


If you want more tips on how to beat procrastination, join my list of email friends!  I’ll share some more insight with you in a monthly letter direct to your inbox.

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All You Ever Wanted – Words of Wisdom

have it all, busy, crazy, life, creative, time,

have it all, busy, crazy, life, creative, time,

A Praise for the Creatively Wrecked

You are a genius.

You, who write in 3 journals at once.

You have a journal for ideas, one for notes, and one to document your life.

Your most excellent, extraordinary, ordinary, hectic, busy, boring life.

You write articles and clean toilets.

You create beauties from scraps of yarn and fold laundry like a pro.

You create lesson plans and school your children at your dining table,

While cooking dinner, making jam, and playing phone counselor.

You shun hairspray and adorn extremely sensible shoes.

Or, more often, no shoes.

Shoes mean going out. There’s no time for that.

You have guest posts to write, photos to edit, and crafts to sell.

Your website needs updating, you missed the webinar, you have 200 unread emails.

You have self-imposed adult homework to do.

You love it. You know you do.

You creative genius, you.

You’re creating flyers, advertising seminars, and designing sales funnels.

There’s that agricultural fair to go to, the reenactment to see, and exhibit at the Capitol.

You have choir practice, church service, and Sunday naps.

The wisdom of the world sits on your bookshelf.  You must find time to read just one more.

You’re a wiz with a hot glue gun and make all your gifts by hand.

You make your bread from scratch and raise chickens.

You wonder why you can’t fit in that drawing class or keep the kitchen table cleaned off.

The days fly by and you wonder how you could waste so much time.

After all, the bed still isn’t made and you barely got a shower today.

That e-course you were going to write is still only an idea in the back of your mind,

And a few notes in your idea journal.

The dishes are done, the floor is swept, the menu planned.

Groceries, banking, and errands on Friday.

You have appointments and volunteer work this week.

You read about minimalism and dream of empty rooms.

So you box up some excess, but let it set in your living room.

You creative genius, you.  Life is so dull.

Why can’t you keep up? Move forward? Reach the dream?

How could you get so little done in a day?

You should exercise more.  Call home. Send out thank-you cards.

Your to-do list only gets longer as the back-log gets bigger.

Simplify. Say no.  Clear your plate.

Say no to what?

The kids? The housework? Helping? Reading? Creating?

You wanted it all. You got it. It’s all good. Keep it.

Don’t call yourself lazy one more time.

You’re creative.  And we love you for it.

You have creative, mommy, homeschooling, housewife superpowers.

You creative genius, you.

You may feel like you never get anything done.  You may only see the opportunity cost when you spend your time.  If you spend your time housekeeping, you could have been creating something.  When you spend your time creating, you should have been doing housekeeping.

You do.  That’s all.  And that’s a lot.

Be so thankful that you have so much to be thankful for.

I’d rather be creatively wrecked than bored.

What do you spend your days doing?  Do you feel like you should always be spending your time doing something else?  Leave your comment here.

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Edit Your Life – Words of Wisdom

Masterpiece, life, simplify, mental clutter, clutter, distraction, obstacle

Masterpiece, life, simplify, mental clutter, clutter, distraction, obstacle

In a small house, it’s easy to go from clean to cluttered in just a few minutes.  When things get left out of place or something new comes into the house that doesn’t yet have a place, the flow of traffic becomes hindered.  Suddenly you’re reaching around, tripping on, and stepping over things that are in the way.  It’s only okay for a short while.  Then it’s down-right annoying.

I have a couple of pear trees on the property.  They were loaded down with pears this year.  I’ve seen entire crops of pears lost to crows, turkeys, and wind storms.  I was determined to harvest my pears this year before they were lost. With the help of some friends, we relieved those two pear trees of nearly 300 lbs of fruit.  And stacked it all up in my kitchen.  

I’ve given away a bunch already but after 5 days there are still boxes of fruit stacked in my kitchen.  There isn’t anywhere else to put them until they finish ripening and I can preserve them.  They block the cabinets, are in the direct path to the trash can, and leave very little space to get through to the basement and garage.  I bump into them countless times a day.

There are things in your life that you bump up against constantly too.  Maybe it isn’t physical clutter.  Maybe it’s mental clutter.  There’s that thing that irritates you but you keep working around it and trying to ignore it.  Some unfinished business perhaps.  It’s become a bottle neck that hinders the flow of everything else in your life.  Every time you think of something you want to do or accomplish, that thing gets in the way.

Nothing else can happen until it’s put away.  

These things have to be addressed.  They don’t go away on their own.  In fact, if it’s left too long, it will begin to rot into a mess and stink up your attitude.  Not only will it affect your life but it will have an impact on those who share your space.

The task may seem daunting.  It might be a big project and a long process.  Putting away 300 lbs of pears is going to be a big job.  But once they are canned, frozen, dried, or given away, I won’t have to think of them again.

Get your hands on that obstacle in your life.  Pick it up, process it, put it away, let it go, or find someone to take it.  Just take care of business.  Decide that today is the last day you ever bump into that heap of stuff again.  And then make it happen.

Take note of the things you mentally bump into every day.  Then edit your life accordingly.  Life will never be smooth sailing, but you have the ability to move the obstacles.  You don’t have to become frustrated or hindered by them.  Your life is your masterpiece.  Build it the way you want it.

Have you ever had to face an obstacle that hindered your personal progress?  What did it feel like when it was finally put away?  You can share your comments here.

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Believe in Magic – Words of Wisdom

magic, perseverance, art, create, success, show up, work, simple, passion

magic, perseverance, art, create, success, show up, work, simple, passionYou know what the problem is with your life?  You want to go after your passions but you refuse to believe in yourself.

There is a process in achieving success.  You have to create it.

You will never become a writer if you don’t write.  You won’t become a painter if you won’t paint.  You’ll never record an album if you don’t have the courage to sing.  You’ll never be anything if you don’t show up.

We try to make things complicated sometimes.  We want the answer to the question of life to be complex yet easy to accomplish.  Alas.  The opposite is true.  Achieving success is very simple.  And it’s hard work. That’s all it takes.  Simple? Yes.  Easy? No.

Success doesn’t fall into your lap.  Fulfillment isn’t served on a platter. If you want to create a life of meaning and purpose you have to run, stretch, and push yourself to progress. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort.  And then come back and do it again.

That’s where the magic happens.  In showing up time after time.

Imagine you have to do as many push-ups as you possibly can right now.  Suppose you can only do 5.  What if you did 5 push-ups every day for a few days?  All of a sudden you’d be able to do 10 push-ups.  And if you continued to do 10 push-ups every day, suddenly you’d be able to do 20.

It’s magic!

Actually, it’s work.  The magic is in your perseverance and belief in yourself.  Don’t go looking for the easy way out or complicate the process.  Just show up.  And show up again.  The magic will follow.

Do you believe in yourself enough to show up?  What are you going to do this week?  I’d love to see your comments.

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Terrified? Good.

art, show, share, create, easy, fear, progress, emotion

art, show, share, create, easy, fear, progress, emotionYou keep waiting for it to get easier.  The writing.  The expression.  The honesty with yourself.  The accepting of who you really are.

You show up, day after day and do the hard things.  You feel with all your heart.  You work with all your might.  You do the next right thing.

Show up.  Create.  Share.  Repeat.

It should get easier, right?

The process eventually becomes routine.  But sharing is always scary.

Art is just one way of baring one’s soul.  It may be with words, music, or color.  But art is more than just sharing thoughts and ideas.  Art shares emotion.  Raw and unrefined emotion.

There’s no way to tame your art.  If you try, it becomes watered down and unappealing.  Like iced tea left in the sun too long.

Art that resonates with people has a shared emotion with the observer.  It portrays a deep emotion that can’t be explained without an experience.   Real, raw, emotional art strikes a chord of understanding, empathy, and insight.

There’s nothing easy about being real.  Real means vulnerable.

That’s scary.  Your human nature is to protect yourself from harm and painful experiences.  So you hide and try to blend in with the scenery.  But your spiritual nature is to be whole and understood.  And so, there is a constant war of revealing your soul and hiding your heart.

It takes both soul and heart to make art.

I don’t believe it ever gets easier.  It just becomes a necessity.  Like breathing.  The artist must create and connect.

Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid.  It means you do it afraid.

Be strong and courageous.  Don’t give up.

Show up. Create. Share. Repeat.

What are you doing every day to show up and do the next right thing?  Do you find it easier to share your art as you become better at it?  Share your comments here.

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How Can I Get Over It? – Words of Wisdom

get over it, bother, trouble, let it go

get over it, bother, trouble, let it goSomething is troubling you.  Your spirit is vexed.  Your mind is cluttered.  There’s this thing that you just can’t get let go.  Just when you think you’ve got it figured out and laid it to rest, it rears up again.

Those same old feelings of frustration and aggravation come at you again.  It bothers you.  And the fact that it bothers you bothers you also.

Why can’t you just get over it??

It’s easy to hide behind phrases like, “Let it go” and “I don’t care.”  But you do care and you can’t let it go.  Saying these phrases only shows that it hurts you deep inside and you can’t stop thinking about it.

But you should care.  And, why doesn’t it bother everyone??

Some situations don’t have an answer.  They just don’t.  I wish you could fix it.  I wish it would work out right.  I wish truth and justice always had their way.  But that’s not always the case.

So, how do you get over it?

Get out from under it.

You have to take the high road.  Get your thoughts above the negativity.  Think of lighter, happier, glorious things and let the junk slide off your back.

The negative feelings of aggravation and frustration are restrictive.  They narrow your focus until you can’t see beyond what’s troubling you.  They also affect your expressions, your posture, and your speech.

Here’s a trick.  When you notice your thoughts lingering on troubles, change your position.  Roll your shoulders back. Open your palms up.  Breathe deep.  Let your thoughts go higher.  Soar above the trouble.  Leave the heaviness on the ground.

Look up!  

You don’t have to get over it as in forget about it or pretend it’s all okay.  But you do have to get your mind above the problems.  It doesn’t go away, but the scenery is lovelier.  It’s peaceful above the turmoil.

You can chose to find the sunny side.  And the sun is always shining above the clouds.

Are you struggling with something that just won’t leave you alone?  What ways have you tried to get over it? Comment here.

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