Hanging artwork for a show and preparing for an opening can take a lot out of you. As discussed in my last post I ended up mentally exhausted and needing to withdraw for a few days.
But this morning a strange thing happened - I woke up recharged, brimming once again with ideas and longingly looking towards my studio. I got to wondering what it was that I had done to so swiftly bring back the Muse. After analyzing my week I think I have a recipe that anyone can follow:
1. Catch Up On Sleep
I always push myself to the limit when working towards a show. Last week was no exception. By the time I made it home from the opening I was ready to zonk out hard. I slept a full 11 hours in one night. I've read that getting regular sleep helps fuel creativity and it makes sense. How can you be creative when you haven't spent nearly enough time dreaming?
2. Spend One Day “Vegging”
I've had a long standing tradition of allowing myself one day off after a show. A day where I try to just relax and recoup. The day after an opening I try not to have anything scheduled. No obligations, no social plans, nothing. I'll catch up on a book I want to read, go for a long walk or in this particular instance, finally finish watching the last few episodes of LOST.
3. Visit with Friends and Family
Working towards a show means that I will end up having to say "no" to several invitations to social events for the weeks leading up to the opening. And openings themselves are never a good time for any sort of a lengthy chat. So this week I made a point to spend time catching up with friends and housemates. Finding out what is going on in their lives that I've missed connects me back into my own life. Creativity can be pretty isolating at times so I really try to find balance by being social on my off days.
4. Catch Up On the Household
The things I've put on hold really start to knaw at me by opening night. Things like laundry, dishes and sorting mail just don't seem important when I'm working through layers of fur and feathers. But once I finish and come bleary eyed out of the studio the things I have neglected suddenly can seem overwhelming. The space for creativity will not come back to me until I've tidied up a bit. Good thing that laundry and bill sorting can be done while watching LOST episodes. (Yep... I even multitask when I'm vegging out. Sad... I know.)
5. Process the Show
It may seem like a chore to crop and edit images to update your website immediately with a show but I believe this needs to be done right away for two reasons. It is always good to get fresh content up online as soon as possible of course. But the second reason is that seeing your new work in conjunction with your past work can actually be inspiring. You may see a new thread for a series that you hadn't realized before or you could just be boosted by the satisfaction of seeing all your images polished and up together.
6. Learn Something New
This here is a KEY. If you do nothing else you should at least pursue this one. I'm sure there must be some scientific research about how our brains are hardwired towards learning sparking creativity. It works - it really does. This past weekend I attended an open shop day at IsGood Woodworks which is a local wood shop collective. I learned how to make a mitered frame from reclaimed wood by using a joiner, planer and table saw. I was terrified the whole time but it also was a lot of fun. And I still have all my limbs. Bonus!
7. Doodle In Your Journal
This is one I need to work more on myself. I'm not always the best about sketching. I much prefer to just work larger and direct the wood itself. (If anyone has ever seen a wooden paged journal let me know!) But I have found that spending time just "making a mess" in my journal just about always turns out into something interesting and can often spark an idea. For this past show the largest piece in the show came about because I was drawing a tree doodle for something else. So last ditch if you've gone through all of the above and your Muse still hasn't returned to you... just pick up a sketchbook, journal or bar napkin and start scribbling color, looping lines or sketching scenes! You never know what it's going to spark.