What activities, passions, or interests do you pursue outside your studio (art related or otherwise)? Do you think they feed your main work or focus? Rebecca and Ross discuss answers submitted on Facebook, as well as their own thoughts on the subject.
PODCAST notes: merging art and life
Ross Intro: A while back Rebecca posed this question on Facebook,
what activities, passions, or interests do you pursue outside your studio (art
related or otherwise)? Do you think they feed your main work or focus?
The answers poured in and today we’re going to take a look at some of
Why I asked this question:
Wanted to say something about the wholeness of our lives as artists; artist is such
a large identity/passion that many of us think only in those terms.
But there will always be crossover influences if our art is about who we are
Also we need to get out of our heads sometimes.
Was going to talk about this from my own perspective but too limited.
Curious about people beyond the usual painting postings on Facebook.
What else are they passionate about?
Huge range of answers… volunteering with various causes …making collections
(fountain pens, found objects, old books) …studying the design of Ferraris…raising
bonsais… …storytelling…environmental causes such as radiation protection,
sustainability, working with the homeless…… physical activities including tennis,
horseback riding , weightlifting, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, croquet,
;pickleball, fencing, various kinds of dance
Influence from professions—psychotherapy, interior design, costuming for stage
Also mentioned: synesthesia, the connection in the mind between one sensory
experience and another/ automatic and totally convincing ( a certain musical note
= a certain color. )
Ross points out that synesthesia can occur naturally, but an also be chemically
induced or a product of stress, experiences which have influenced artists.
Not a voluntary interest but one with implications for art making/ part of the
bigger picture of who we are and how it affects our work.
Also some commonalities in the answers, lots of repeats which I will get to in a
Some people addressed the 2 nd part of my question and some did not—the
connection between these activities and your art.
I assume that other things in life feed people’s work—how much of his happens in
a conscious way?
Could it be helpful to make more direct connections/
Part of making your art personal and unique is mining these passions for ideas
Thinking about personal voice and direction here.
Finding direction and voice is a quest for many people esp starting out
experienced artists might ask themselves, what can I bring into my work
that moves me from the rest of life? New direction and ideas always important.
Connections may be direct or indirect.
Examples of direct connections—from responses
Being in nature: close observation of surroundings, noticing light, detail, feeling a
Physical activity: (weightlifting) relates to being fit for large paintings and maybe
on a subtler level the physicality of moving paint around ….rock climbing—the
practice of in-the-moment intuitive decision making, being totally present.
Writing: using words to expand creative ideas.
Travel—exposure to different cultures and visual experiences used in art work.
Music—influences from rhythm and mood, improvisational music and jazz as
related to intuitive painting, collaboration in playing with others.
Gardening and clay work.
Looking at art in museums, researching materials, taking workshops-- obvious
If you don’t think there is a connection--Ask yourself what intrigues, you about
one of your interests and it may lead directly to some new art idea.
Ex: figure drawing group —challenge of rendering form light/shadow, use of
Ex: collecting stuff—besides enjoying the objects you collect, is there something
about the act of collecting /organizing/arranging that could enter your work?
Ex: birdwatching—movement, patterns, color, delicacy/strength.
Ex: gardening—the cycle of planting, growing, maturing, dying back.
Could your work be enhanced by being open to your interests as a whole?
No need to push, simply set it as an intention.
Summary of the brief and unscientific survey:
Most Often mentioned:
being in nature, hiking in nature
Some kind of music connection—participating or listening
Physical activity, exercise, sports
Some help to slow down, get centered/grounded, connect with inner self, connect
with nature have a meditative aspect – feeding the inner self, being present.
Some are stimulating, energizing—being active, playing music, working with
Some directly related to art in obvious ways –photography, drawing,
experimenting with materials.
Many people mentioned a range, aspects of all of the above –
My takeaway -- our lives are made up of many parts, and art has the potential to
be the expression of the whole not any one thing but that general feeling of
possibility and curiosity, some combination of what we make for ourselves and
what life has served up.