Many artists I talk with struggle to balance time spent on their art with family time. It’s hard to say ‘no’ to your closest people.
I am hugely fortunate in many regards, not least of which is my spouse is very supportive of my artistic career. He is also an artist (a jazz musician) and has taught me a lot about discipline and focusing on what is important to me. He always say “Go!” when I say I’m going to the studio.
Are your family and friends supportive of you as an artist? Do they express pride in your work, and respect what it takes to produce that work? Do they respect your need to create and the boundaries that you’ve put in pace to enable you to create?
We often expect those closest to us to be mind-readers.
Do they know what you want to accomplish, and what you feel you need to reach those goals? Have a non-confrontational chat and tell them! They love you and probably want to support you in achieving your goals, but we have to help them understand what would be most helpful to us.
Have you set boundaries?
Let them know when you plan to be in the studio. Ahead of time, preferably. If you keep regular studio hours, this is easy. This avoids the “but I was thinking we could/would ....”
Once you are in the studio, are you constantly interrupted?
If your studio is at home, try these tips:
- close the door (hopefully you have one)
- put a sign on the door with office hours, or a clock with a note that says “I’m busy, but I’ll be available at 4pm”
- schedule a regular lunch or coffee break that you can spend with them, if appropriate
If your studio is separate from your home:
- let them know your phone is turned off (and turn it off or silence it)
- If people drop by, let them know before you start chatting that you’ve “only got 20 minutes” or “I’m right in the middle of something. Could I call you/meet you for tea at the end of the afternoon?”
- I’m fortunate to have other friendly artists in my studio and studio building. We may drop in, but we always ask if it’s okay, and after 10 minutes, we go back to our easels and start working.
- I encourage friends and other artists who want to visit me in my studio to do so during a monthly open studio afternoon that I have scheduled (First Saturdays). The doors are open to the public, and that afternoon I don’t work on anything that can’t be interrupted.
Sometimes, family is more important.
If you are acting as a caregiver, sometimes that is more important that making our work. However, even in that situation, it cab be very valuable to give ourselves time in the studio so we can ‘come home’ to ourself, and possibly work through some of the feelings that are swirling around us. It’s probably a time to be gentle (no big goals or aggressive deadlines) but studio time is a very potent form of self-care for artists.