You can’t open Instagram these days without seeing picture-perfect studio spaces where other artists create their masterpieces. What that picture isn’t showing you is how they came to own that space. Maybe they worked their buns off for it? Maybe it became available through loss in another area of their life? Maybe they just got lucky? You don’t know.
But you take what you see and use it to put yourself down anyway. What you see is that they have the ideal space and you don’t.
Beginner creatives dreaming of starting something often equate this to the fact that they can’t start painting, drawing, sculpting (insert particular craft here).
It’s fine to acknowledge that this is what the ‘perfect feed’ elicits in you initially, but you don’t have to let that be the end of the thought. Social Media shouldn’t get that finite an effect on you and your beautiful creative dreams are not that easily snuffed out. Really not.
I had that mindset too for the longest time. Here’s how I overcame it.
Big trees don’t start out as big trees
It dawned on me that an oak tree doesn’t just appear large and grandiose out of nowhere, lush with many green leaves in the centre of a perfectly manicured lawn and cute squirrels running up its trunk. It begins as a tiny little seed, stowed in a hard AF shell with a funny hat, buried way deep down in some dark, earthy mud for who knows how long. So I embraced my tiny acorn status and decided to flex my painting muscles right where I was planted, in my self-perceived mud (it wasn’t – Social Media just made me feel that way). And of course, minus the funny hat.
3 things you can learn from my creative studio journey
I wanted to share with you the various iterations of my painting spaces in hopes that it would inspire you to begin creating where ever it is you are now planted in your life.
The goal is never to suddenly appear at the end of the big picture. The goal is to enjoy all the many small steps of grafting on your way to building the creative life of your dreams.
1. Starting small reduces the creative pressure
About 2 years ago my “studio space” was a coffee table in my bedroom next to the desk where I did my content writing work (which was also my dressing table). I sat on the floor on a pillow and painted by the window light. If you had plopped me into my “dream studio space” I would very likely have felt unworthy. Feeling like I wasn’t a ‘real artist’ who hadn’t YET earned the right to be there could have put a serious block on my creative confidence. There’s a reason we bake cupcakes before attempting wedding cakes. Think of a small studio as your creativity cupcake.
Starting small eased the pressure and allowed me to grow slow
KEY TAKE AWAY: All you need to start creating is a flat surface and somewhere to sit your butt. Make use with what you have.
2. Distractions are first a curse, then a blessing
From the bedroom, I moved into the lounge space. [If you’re asking why I didn’t start there first; I had decided to renovate my kitchen in order to Airbnb the second room to create a side income to support the creative journey]. At this stage, my entire studio was a desk in my open plan lounge kitchen. I contended with many disturbances because that’s what was required. Other people enjoying the lounge space, cooking noise, music of not my choosing, television shows, pets wanting to go in and come out – and the worst of it all – the constant pile of dishes glaring at me from across the room.
But in order to give yourself to the creative process, you have to learn that commitment means averting your gaze and fickle attention span from other things.
There will ALWAYS be distractions in life. Sitting down to paint is a choice.
KEY TAKE AWAY: You choose to give focus to your creative pursuit in spite of all the imperfections and distractions of the moment, not because they don’t exist.
Learning how to not attach to them and, for the moment, letting them just ‘be’ there, will show you that you don’t need ‘the perfect studio space to get creative’.
3. Creating in the less than optimal fuels your drive for better
There was an ideal space on our property but due to a complex string of life scenarios, it required MASSIVE decluttering and sorting before you can even move in there, let alone, create. It was something we as a family had been putting off for yonks. But, working in that cramped, distraction hot zone in my lounge was just the sort of consistent discomfort I needed to motivate me to make shit happen.
While I had managed to contend and create amid the distraction and messy kitchen and home clutter, I eventually lost the plot and a fiery beast with the energy to move the seemingly insurmountable room of clutter awoke within me. So the massive outside studio renovation began. It took about 2 months of weekend grafting to sort, drive away, donate, fix, properly store etc – a task I previously couldn’t find the gumption for.
When you prioritise your creativity, regardless of the conditions, it rewards you with the energy you need to move bigger obstacles.
Now, this is the space I paint in. It’s still not large by any stretch, still mostly the size of that same desk with some added shelves. But it’s a dedicated space for painting that I’m all too grateful to have access to.
KEY TAKE AWAY: You will never be fully primed in the present for the environment you believe you’re destined for. You get there by beginning where you are.
The discomfort is how you begin to make the waves to traverse big seas.
Here’s my best nature guided tip
Put a plant by the space you want to start creating in. It has a way of helping you feel like there’s intention there. And plants grow slow too, so you’ll be in good company,
Start where you are with what you have and embrace being the little seed in a nut with a funny hat. But please start. Your creative journey can’t begin unless you do.
Aren’t you curious to see how your tree will grow? I’m excited for you.
If my studio journey thus far has ignited a spark in you to begin but you still feel a little stuck, drop me a comment and let’s figure out a creative solution. I’d love to help you get creative in whatever space you have available to you.
If you found this article helpful or think it might inspire a friend who’s feeling creatively stuck, please share it. I’m sure they’d be grateful to you for thinking of them.