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Welcome back. In this episode, we’re going to look at Putting on the right “hat” can propel you towards your goals as an artist.
Some of you know that I’m a hat person. Always have been. Today we’re going to talk about two figurative hats we wear, and when to wear each to help you through your roadblocks as an artist
Determine whether the situation calls for you to be in objective mode or subjective, shameless cheerleader mode
Or the objective, Vulcan-like attitude of the stoic.
At the start of the third decade of the new millennium, there seems to finally be an acceptance that people actually have feelings, that empathy is a real thing and that it is good.
I’m going to tell you how using both outlooks can be useful, depending on which one is best suited to the situation at hand, to propel you forward toward your goals.
Like Star Trek’s Spock character, whose trademark phrase was “fascinating,” it helps to pause and say that or something similar aloud.
I tend to say, “interesting.” I know, sounds dorky, but over the years I’ve practiced it so much it’s become my go-to reaction to most crises below the level of a zombie apocalypse. Very helpful. And yes, I still say it aloud. Helps you to be calm and do as much as you can instead of losing all chance of moving forward.
What I’ve found is that subjective mode is best for ideas, getting started with a big goal (even at the start of each work session on that goal), and for the immediate aftermath, when you find out if it’s worked or not.
Objective mode is most helpful when planning the goal, evaluating the plan as you go (such as critiques of your painting), and in the later aftermath, when the dust has settled, to help you accept realities and learn for next time.
What does this look like?
Say for example you want to be ready for a solo show on a deadline. The subjective approach is good to have for brainstorming your painting ideas.
Brainstorm (this is your sketchbook in action) and move forward with your best ideas as if the world will think they are the best, too.
When you sit down to map out a schedule for finishing the artwork you need to have completed on time, it's a good time to put on your objective hat. How long does it take you on average to finish a piece of each size? What are your other obligations that can’t be rescheduled or postponed?
Since objectively you could paint anything, you may as well go for painting the cool ideas you have without shooting yourself down or just sucking the air from the room with “well, what’s the difference what you paint?” objective observations.
This is the time for being your own cheerleader.
Put on your favorite music and get lost in the process.
When you stop for those breaks I know you’re taking, try to physically step away, to get some objectivity and some lunch. If it’s a painting or drawing, try turning it upside down while you’re taking your break. Looking at your work from across the room or on your cellphone. And being objective.
Anything weird jumping out at you that shouldn’t be?
Is the composition as strong upside down as right-side-up? It should be.
Go back to your subjective hat, as you get back into your artwork after your break, believing you’re following your chosen purpose.
Switching hats between subjective and objective can keep you moving forward while keeping you on track as you move forward.
When you get to the big opening, keep that subjective cheerleader hat on. Treat yourself as if you would your very best friend, cause you need to love yourself at least that much.
When it wraps, enjoy your achievement, no matter how it turns out. You’ve done the work, it’s okay to enjoy it. If it doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s okay to let yourself feel whatever you feel. Whether you decide your goal was a hit or a flop, this is a great time to seek the company of friends and loved ones. Be gentle with yourself and allow whatever the outcome is to be.
After the dust settles, try on your objective hat again to do an assessment. What went right that you would do again? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time?
You can switch between your subjective and objective hats to generate momentum to get through a goal and reach for another, maybe even bigger one.
You can also use this technique of switching hats in pricing your art and in the "Big Daddy" of them all, setting boundaries.
Let’s start with pricing.
My method is to start out with a list of all the overhead involved in creating a piece of art:
Don’t forget to factor communications with clients into your time spend. This is where it helps to record your time as you make your art.
If the painting was a commission and you did two phone calls, a sitting for a photoshoot, plus two zoom calls or email or even in-person sessions as you went before shipping the finished piece, not the time for each. That all counts too.
There are lots of formulas out there, and I do use one for the objective phase of pricing. My formula uses linear inches. I use them instead of square inches because I find they create a smaller price jump between sizes; at least for 2-D art. If you're a sculptor and fine square inches (or centimeters) works better, go for it. Use the method that works for you.
If you’re a regular listener, you’ve no doubt heard me talk about pricing on the podcast on almost every episode. And it’s great to see what other artists recommend, too. You can find a link to a downloadable PDF of this formula as well as my pricing sheet and any other downloadable mentioned in this episode in the show notes at passionatepainterpodcast.com/episode67
Learning to set boundaries is important for everyone in living a healthy, fulfilled life. It’s also extremely important for artists, as the one thing we often need the most to achieve our dreams is time. Time to create and get our work in front of the people who will love it.
Now, the last area I’ll hit on when wearing your hats is setting boundaries. This one is related to pricing, in that setting a price for your art is a primary way we set a boundary. It declares, “I deserve to be paid for the art I create.”
Boundaries are a big topic that could fill their own entire podcast, so I’m going to give you an example here and list resources for further learning in the show notes.
Have you ever had a friend ask you for advice when they are really torn over something? It’s most likely something they are emotionally invested in, such as, “My sister asked me to petsit her dog again while she’s on vacation, and she knows I have to work late four nights this week and Friday is date night, which I look forward to all week.”
We often have solutions for these things because we aren’t emotionally invested. We are able to be objective and see the unfairness of the request, given the person’s own needs.
We also know that every time the person gives up their boundary, the offender is going to gain a little ground, making it almost certain they’ll encroach on our sacred space again.
Here’s where you put on your objective hat. Forget the relationship for a moment. Step waaaaaay, way back and pretend you are observing the request of “person a” for help from “person B” (that’s you).
If it helps, use the van diagram download I’ve included in the bonus vault to print out and write in the needs of each person. You’ll notice it doesn’t include the subjectives, such as how cute the dog is or how close you are to your sister.
Now think about what you’d tell your best friend if they asked for advice on how to handle a situation like this. It may be very clear to you what THEY should do.
Write down what you’d tell your friend. Now, as with the pricing exercise, put your subjective hat back on and ask yourself how that solution feels. Does it feel expansive, like a Friday at 5 p.m., or contracted, like a Monday at 8 a.m.?
If it’s just way too Monday to go with the advice you’d give a friend, you may need to look into developing stronger boundaries in general? Or, do you just have an issue with this one person?
If this is the first time they’ve asked, and especially if its a last minute request, remember that the way you respond is going to “train” them for next time. I recommend laying down your boundary with love. They may surprise you and be understanding. If they are unreasonable about your boundaries, you’ve got work to do with this particular person.
You’ll either need to retrain them about your boundaries or cut them out of your life as much as is possible.
I’m not a psychologist, so if you find the boundaries thing is a big issue, I recommend you check out Terri Cole’s website, otherwise known as the Boundary Boss, and her book by the same name.
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Please let me know how you approach meeting your goals as an artist by leaving a comment. For those of you whose goals include learning to become a portrait painter, don’t forget to sign up for my email list in the form on this page to get access to my freebie vault of resources, including the ones noted in this episode, you’ll receive a coupon code for $50 off when my new online course, The Portrait code, releases March 10, 2022.
LINKS From Episode 67
Resource Links for Boundaries
Terri Cole (The Boundary Boss) https://www.terricole.com/
Brené Brown: https://brenebrown.com/
Time Tracking Software:
Microsoft Excel: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/excel
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Until next time... Go make something.