Archive for habits

Finding ways to keep working

"Walking Away" by John Andro AvendañoWhen you’re young and starting out as an artist, you don’t fully understand the choices you have. It’s as if your mind is trapped in an invisible box. The box is preventing you from gaining more understanding about yourself. Part of the box is made by society, and part of it in your own making. Sometimes you just go in circles thinking about what you can’t do, or presume you can’t do. You don’t know there’s a way out. You have to figure out ways to keep working. A large part of the work is gaining more understanding within yourself, and knowing you already possess the traits that you need to do the work. You just have to learn to apply them. Getting better as an artist is a combination of searching, asking, learning, and working. And the younger you can develop those habits, the better. When I meet with young artists, what I do is share my story. Over time, I’ve discovered all this information. I’m talking about information that’s been around for thousands of years. In the best case scenario, I help people find things they didn’t even know they were looking for. Maybe I can guide them to something that will be just the right thing for them to hear. The key to what will open their particular door. When you see a light turn on in someone’s eyes, and they have an ah-ha moment, it feels good. It’s like when you talk to people involved in the business world. They want to know what the secret of being successful in business is. Business is buying something for two dollars and selling it for three. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon or have a degree in business. You have to possess the desire to be good at it. Being successful is about learning how to speak with people, share yourself with people, and motivate people to get involved with your process.

Making timeless art

"Reclining Nude" by John Andro AvendañoI think if an artist has actually done the work and knows themselves, then they can make something that is real. They are ready to begin making art that reaches for timelessness. They may not get there every time, but they can reach for it. They are involved enough in their own process to sidestep using trickery. They are ready to make art that will truly connect with people on a deeper level. It all comes back to being real with your vision and your emotions. And that’s hard. It is an important part of the difficult work of being an artist. For example, you can look at Picasso’s Blue Period, and say it now looks dated. With Cubism, he left it early, since there was nothing left for him to do in that form. It was a plastic concept. He knew when he’d reached the end of it. Once he started to really relax, and drew and painted his kids and his immediate friends, those pieces are timeless works. You want to keep developing that natural and childlike connection with what you’re trying to create. In no matter what time period you’re living in. Develop the work habits that get your own ideas and emotions into the work. Don’t paint in your head. Paint on the canvas, or whatever medium you choose. Paint every day. As you work, your soul starts whispering to you. And you need to listen to it. That’s where timeless art comes from. The connection to your own life force, and reacting to the universe we live in.

Get into the habit of making art

"Mont Saite-Victoire" by John Andro AvendanoCreating art has to become a habit. I’m not a political artist, and I not an activist artist. I’m really dealing with my own sensibilities. My life doesn’t have a lot of grief. I’m not very susceptible to outside drama. Which is good. You have to stay steady and true to yourself to stay on track creatively. When I can help people, I’m there. But people have to take responsibility for their own choices and their own unique direction. Ultimately, each person has to do it for themselves. Figure out what you want to create, and start creating it. At this point in time, making art is about habits, and creating positive habits and sticking to them. It’s something I work on every day. For me there are only two real emotions. You’re either happy or you’re sad. If you’re sad, figure out what’s causing it, and start changing your situation. If you’re happy, keep on doing what you’re doing. Do even more of it. It’s easier to focus and do good work when you’re energized. Stay focused and develop the working habits that allow you to create new art, or finish artwork you’ve started. People get distracted by negative emotions. They get stuck in being angry or jealous, or something. The main thing is to stay with the basics. Figure out if you’re feeling happy or sad, and use those emotions to get into your work.

Don’t make excuses. Make art. Every day.

a-work-in-progressMaking art comes down to routine and habit. And that gets formed over many years. You have to get in the habit of getting up in the morning and starting. After you take care of  your emails or phone calls that you have to do, you have a cup of coffee, and then stand in front of your easel or sit at your table and start creating something. It doesn’t really matter what. Once you begin the process it takes off on its own. I get up around 7:00 a.m., have coffee, respond to emails, and start work about 9:00 a.m. I’ll stop at 1:00 p.m. and have lunch, then take care of more business. I’m back working in my studio by 4:00 p.m. And I’ll work until 3:00 a.m. There’s a dinner in there somewhere, but it’s not necessarily at the same time. There’s no mystery to it. If you want to create art, you have to work; you develop the habit. It’s about creating every day. Persistence matters. Not giving up matters. If you’re sick, you grab a piece of paper and do some drawing in bed. If you’re sick and throwing up, you grab some paper and draw in between times of being sick. If your leg is going to be amputated, get it amputated and then go back and make good art. There is no excuse, if you’re healthy and want to make art. There have been artists who were going blind and kept making art. Artists with no hands who painted with their feet. If they could do it, you can do it. Stop making excuses and make art.