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Too Much: WIN The Creative Struggle with FOCUS

This is where many have faltered in the past: We do too much. Personally, I am just so inspired by the many mediums and subjects to explore. How do other artists only do one thing? I can’t seem to get myself to do it, even though I want to. Do you just hide all your other work or do you not allow yourself to venture away from “your style”? (I really want to know.)

Or perhaps you’re like me. Do you invest time into too many things? Are you spread too thin? Do you ever feel like you already messed up this life and are just waiting for the next one to get it right?

Sometimes I do. But I can’t wait for then next life, there is no guarantee of that, and, honestly, there’s no guarantee of tomorrow either. So we must prioritize and straighten the course. The way to do this is to focus on the most important task first. Usually the most important task is the hardest challenge that you’ve been avoiding. So after reading this, commit, not just a few min’s not just an hour, but HOURS – TODAY and every day after that until its done.

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photo credit: Micah Simmons

 

I made a commitment to my first series, the Atlas Metamorphosis Project a long time ago… 7 years ago actually. I never thought it would take this long but I also didn’t foresee myself finding so much interest in more styles and mediums to explore. I was at a place, back then, where I was happy to find 1 style that was unique. Then I found I was trapped and wanted to branch out. Art is about exploration for me, not about staying in one place my whole life. So I have now found a couple series I like to add to. The problem with that becomes the loss of focus and consistency.

I have found that the most important aspect to our lives is focus. So…

What are you focusing on?

In this day and age multitasking is essential, I get that… but it takes a lot of discipline to focus on one task until completion but that’s really how good things get done.

So I said screw it. I’m not working on any more Iterations paintings, glass Specimens, 3D works or anything until I finish Stage 4 of 4 in the Atlas Metamorphosis. Previously I thought this meant I wouldn’t get much done for a long time but I am very pleasingly surprised at the result.

It’s astonishing, the sheer speed that this has brought to the project. What was projected to take many months has been done in days! At least 2 months turned into less than 2 weeks. It’s more than halfway done with most of that work done in this one week and now it just needs a couple more days.

You wouldn’t believe the rush I get from this. It’s wonderful. It’s FOCUS.

I think everyone can experience this joy if they force themselves into action. You will be surprised how after the first 15 minutes or even an hour or 2, you get over this mental block and all of a sudden the inspiration is there. You also start finding ways to speed up the process in real-time. Stop being so much of a perfectionist and realize after you step back, it looks just as good as if you took your slow-assed time.

photo credit: Micah Simmons

photo credit: Micah Simmons

So I wish you a Good Friday and hope you can use this post as a catalyst to move forth with that project that is clogging your creative pipes. Let me know in the comments what you think, your results, and to all the artists, please share your feedback on this. I really want to know from the artists who don’t have the many series problem: Do you just hide all your other work or do you not allow yourself to venture away from “your style”?

 

18 Comments for : Too Much: WIN The Creative Struggle with FOCUS
  1. Reply

    Vincent,
    You absolutely put my dilemma on paper. I have always been creative in many ways in my life, interested in everything and easily bored. I have a history of taking on too much and not doing well or else not completing projects. I love so many mediums, as evidenced by my addiction to my supplies. I am trying to organize my studio but have so much that it is overwhelming. I do the same thing with my artworks. I have a hard time deciding which medium to focus on and then feel frustrated when something takes too long. I keep telling myself I must focus, but sometimes that feels like restriction in my mind and my mind fights it. I am glad to hear that focus for a person who seems to have the same issues has worked. It is not so frightening and restrictive when you say it is freeing and that you can work even faster. Thank you so much for your words. They have been encouraging to me, and I vow to focus in the months to come and see if it works the same for me. Thanks again…love your work. I have your calendar and really enjoy the monthly works. Have a wonderful weekend. Marilyn Lowry

      • The Fink
      • April 17, 2017
      Reply

      Thank You Marilyn for your personal insight. We are fighting the same internal struggle. I can say this sort of pushing one’s self to decide on a project and commit to manifesting a certain end is very relieving, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.

      Pushing through the first couple hours or even days of this may seem really hard and forced but the hard part is usually just getting started and over the idea of something unwanted. Once I realize, “hey this is actually really what I set out to do anyway” then more thoughts like “wow, look at this, I’m really proud of it!” start getting me more motivated. Finally the super focus turns on and it actually becomes hard to pull away from the job at the end of my artwork shift.

      We are all different in when the breakthrough happens but I don’t think the “block” can last more than a couple days because after that, you see all the progress you made from not spreading to thin, and having time and attention to the one thing that you decided is most important to finish first.

      I greatly appreciate your kind words and glad you are enjoying the calendar too! Do let us know how it goes.

        • Marilyn Lowry
        • April 17, 2017
        Reply

        Thanks for your reply, Vincent! I’ll let you know how i progress!
        Best,
        Marilyn

  2. Reply

    Vincent, It depends on the creator. Some people have an affinity for one style and that is where they make their bread and butter. Others have an innate need to explore media and work in as many styles as possible. In my own art I have to do both watercolors and heavy brush and ink, and fine line drawing with a rollerball, and abstractions, and referential work, and pure figurative art. It depends on the mood. The brain nags and tells you what to do first, but many people do not listen to their own heads. Don’t know if this all applies. For the past year I have been dedicated to writing, not art-making. ( http://rxttbooks.blogspot.com/ )

      • The Fink
      • November 1, 2017
      Reply

      Perhaps one just needs to decide on what they have an affinity for, if one is ever to find their calling. Would that be defined as what you enjoy the most?

      Writing is definitely an art. I see your focus on writing as a perfect example of finding your voice in the world. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  3. Reply

    I needed to read this, I am currently in a huge transition from starting artist to branching the divisions between my corporate design and artistic endeavors. It’s overwhelming and scary because of Its a completely new tactic, that is more entrepreneurial than my previous efforts.
    After reading this, I’ve pretty much decided that its time to get my second site past its draft stage and manifested into reality.

      • The Fink
      • November 1, 2017
      Reply

      That’s great to see this was helpful for you. Feel free to link your site in the comments when it’s up. I’d love to take a gander.

  4. Reply

    I’m venturing into the unknown, while still keeping a toehold onto the known. Why not do both?!

      • The Fink
      • November 1, 2017
      Reply

      that sounds great! I just have been doing like 5 styles for like 5 years now… it’s time to cancel a few out, but I still haven’t. Maybe I never will. Maybe it’s just part of who I am. I like to think I can change who I am and be a better, more focused artist, and maybe, just maybe I’ll get somewhere with it! Thanks for commenting Heather! Looking forward to seeing what you create next…

  5. Reply

    I was literally talking to my husband about this 15 minutes ago I’m so spread out so many different mediums the mosaics that I love and do but don’t want to be trapped pet say in what do I do to organize, focus and get anything done. Any other inspirations or thought are more than welcome thank you. This did help so much.

      • The Fink
      • November 1, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Lenora, sorry (to you and everyone) for these very late replies. I obviously haven’t focused on the website as much as I have other projects this year…

      I have that same fear of feeling trapped in a style as well. If you’re like me though, it’s safe to focus as much as you can while allowing some other projects to exist in the background. Maybe we need not completely close the door on anything but just assert our power over the situation to put more energy in the one particular series that we know is doing better than the others. Setting specific hours for each project on a weekly calendar might help delegate time to what’s important. I need to do this more, myself. It seems when I put things on the calendar they actually happen… even if a little late!

      I’d love to hear any updates on your series. Hope you found some balance over the months.

    • Robert McBride
    • June 7, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you Vincent for putting yourself out there. I think most artist struggle with this dilema. For me, it is the emotional connection that is at the root of my art. If I feel this connection, sometimes it comes though in my paintings and becomes an indicator of what I should paint. The other thing is that you are in a learning curve. You are on a journey and other artist are there to point way they can’t make the journey with you, you must do that alone. Your art pieces are like your children, some ugly some beautiful some ready for the world some still need help. push on, go down this trail and that, but stay focused on what makes your heart beat. Good Luck

    • Robert McBride
    • June 7, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you Vincent for putting yourself out there. I think most artist struggle with this dilema. For me, it is the emotional connection that is at the root of my art. If I feel this connection, sometimes it comes though in my paintings and becomes an indicator of what I should paint. The other thing is that you are in a learning curve. You are on a journey and other artist are there to point way they can’t make the journey with you, you must do that alone. Your art pieces are like your children, some ugly some beautiful some ready for the world some still need help. push on, go down this trail and that, but stay focused on what makes your heart beat. Good Luck

      • The Fink
      • November 1, 2017
      Reply

      I agree. Your heart has to be in it or you will give up on it eventually.

      The only problem I have is when it comes to making a living with art. Many artists are motivated by different things but I’m one of the brain damaged people who wanted to make their passion their profession. It’s great for the most part but there is conflict.

      A LOT.

      Like right now, I’m delaying on some client work cause sometimes my heart just wants to sit on the beach with a cold beer. Its those times I have to force it back into reality and find a way to be constructive.

  6. Reply

    The funny thing about this entire exchange between the time you originally posted this blog post, to the first time I read it, to the time I am currently posting my comment is exactly what you’re talking about in this post. I am proud of you finding flow. Flow is that effortless submersion into a task at hand that both entertain your focus as well as entertains one’s sense of progress.

    I find I am in a position of building my foundation which is the whole reason for the delay. Being an artist (much like yourself) of various forms, the priority of projects tend to take the wheel of focus. That relentless focus is what has delayed this comment from happening until now.

    To answer your question directly, my style is my top priority. I submerge myself into cultivating said style to my satisfaction. I find my style is found and perfected within myself. Consequently, this makes me somewhat of a hermit at times but the product of that focused energy creates art that reflects my style completely and to my satisfaction. However, due to the building of both my art as well as infrastructure, my focus doesn’t allow me to complete one piece of the puzzle and not every supporting element which surrounds it.

    I find my projects at the moment span throughout not only my art but my professional/personal life. I feel most at peace with constant progress, balance, and positive energy. That balance requires multi-tasking to be an innate part of the focus. I feel my focus doesn’t stop at one piece of art as much as the balance between all aspects of my life and expression. The balance between all things to ensure unified progress is where my focus thrives. I define singular tasks within that progress as steps within a project.

    Like minds flock together bro. Glad to have you and Mrs. Fink in my circle.

      • The Fink
      • November 1, 2017
      Reply

      Wow. So many good points, I have a hard time deciding what I want to respond to…

      You pointed out that you are working on your style to your own liking first and that is probably the most important part. Do you have a hard time building you foundation on specific rules? Are you keeping it consistent in one body of work or are you allowing many styles to blossom? Is that possible for you or are you someone with one idea in mind of what your art should be?

      Thanks for your thoughts Michael!

  7. Reply

    I love this discussion, and your posts, Vincent, are always spot on. I think I can boil down the basic issue with me and that is not wanting to commit. It means being boxed in, limited , and restricted to me. I always love doing something different…experimenting with something new, but I find that I either lose focus and wind up with a scatter shot approach, and then I am frustrated because I can’t perfect any one area…plus I have a million supplies to sort thru.
    I realize what I need to do, but like a petulant child sometimes, I don’t want to do what I know is best. So…that being said…I am getting to work on my present medium and trying not to think that the grass may be greener in another medium. I need to discover my freedom within instead of looking elsewhere. It is basically a psychological issue…controlling myself now without waiting for another lifetime to expand

      • The Fink
      • November 1, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks Marilyn.

      One caveat I can add to this is that, since I knew years ago I couldn’t just do one medium, I read about how some people are more “conceptual artists” in that they are free to explore any medium as long as they stick to their concept imagery. This is the one thing I have going for me. I use Sacred Geometry (and sometimes beetles) as my concept imagery in almost everything. It works pretty good except for the series I started before my Geometry series (the one we’re commenting on. It just doesn’t seem to fit with my paintings). So I’m still working at bringing it all together, but perhaps that might help for you to think more about your concept and style and just bring that to whatever medium suits you at the moment. In this way, everything will be consistent. In theory.

      The problem I run into is each medium seems to bring out a different voice/style and I tend to get away from the bigger picture of consistent looking art. So I’m still taming this beast. Until then, I will continue to work in segregated series and only show one at a time outside of my studio.

      Finally, I have to point out that one of the reliefs I felt when working on this piece is that, since it’s part of my older series, I am that much closer to completing what I set out to do. I only have one more masterpiece after this to do and my commitment to this series is done. I never have to look back after that last piece is done. So it felt good to get closer to closure. I hope when I’m done with it some kind of sign from the heavens will come and let me know if I should focus on it (and leave something else), put it on the back-burner, abandon it…or maybe I can then adapt it to fit my painting series of “Iterations” with more sacred geometric symbols.

      The key, I think, is staying on concept.

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