From December 2nd 2021 to February 25th 2022 I have a room full of paintings at the Jansen art Center in Lynden Washington.
I designed this show with the purpose of teaching other artists some practical tools on how to get motivated and stay motivated for the rest of their lives. If you walk into this show you will see sections of my paintings and drawings with signs in between. The signs contain practical wisdom I’ve learned and put into practice over the past 9+ years to keep me creating every single day.
Below is my recreation of the show for archiving purposes and to hopefully reach a larger audience. Plus, links with a bunch of information are easier to share.
How to get and stay creatively motivated
Are you a painter that doesn’t paint?
Are you a writer that doesn’t write?
Are you a creator that doesn’t create?
I know how you feel. I’ve been there.
“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished?~ Christina Rossetti
Yes; work never begun.”
This exhibition is more than art on a wall. It’s a visual instruction manual for motivation –the antidote for apathy.
Its purpose is to give you some practical tools to get moving and keep your momentum for the rest of your life.
The main works of art are arranged into 4 sections based upon the practical science of motivation: Desire, Focus, Confidence and Willpower.
By using these same tools over the past 9 years, I’ve sculpted an unrelentingly creative life.
The thread moving through the show is a visual representation of me showing up every single day no matter what.
All of the art illustrates my progress from unmotivated to unstoppable.
Let this exhibition motivate you to action. Make it personal. Read and answer the questions.
Then apply what you’ve learned to your own creativity. Be as prolific as you’ve always dreamed.
If I can do it, you can, too.
All motivation begins with desire.
Also called curiosity, interest or drive.
Curiosity is what gets you off the couch and moving.
But one curiosity is not enough to keep you motivated for years.
To get the fuel you need over the long haul you cultivate, align and amplify multiple curiosities together.
Having a stack of curiosities together lead to a burning desire, a driving passion, and a life purpose.
“When we’re curious about a subject, doing the hard work to learn more about that subject doesn’t feel like hard work. It requires effort, for certain, but it feels like play.”~ Steven Kotler
Before you can align multiple curiosities though, you have to find them within yourself.
Make a list of 25 things you’re curious about.
Things that you would enjoy reading a book about, attending a lecture on or speaking with others about.
The purpose of this list is to gain clarity on what is meaningful to you.
Then you can begin to make connections between what you enjoy.
It’s through these connections that we connect with a deeper purpose and eventually motivation flows.
- What are you curious about?
- Make a list of 25 curiosities.
- Find the connections.
You have a list of what your curious about.
You’ve found some connections between those curiosities.
Now it’s time to do the work, and by work I mean play.
But this play time requires focus.
The act of focusing on what we are curious about, even for a few minutes a day, is the foundation of motivation.
Set aside some time daily for your creative work.
Make it a sacred place completely clear of distractions.
Door closed, no cell phone, no interruptions.
Then FOCUS on having fun exploring your curiosities.
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”~ Alexander Graham Bell
Why is focus so important?
Because, distraction and impulsivity are the most common killers of motivation.
Distractions erode your progress and these creative session are all about making progress.
No matter how small.
Daily focus and progress becomes a perpetual motivation machine.
The more you focus and make progress, the more your motivated to focus and make progress.
- When are you most creative daily?
- Can you schedule that time?
- What distractions can you eliminate?
Think about your proudest achievements. The ones that took real effort to accomplish.
These are the achievements that provide deep confidence and trust in yourself.
Now it’s time to build the same confidence in your creative work.
How do you build confidence?
By immersing yourself daily in the intersections between multiple interests.
Even if your having fun and it doesn’t feel like work you’re learning, you’re building expertise and that leads to lasting confidence.
“I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!’”~ W.H. Murray
Your castle of confidence is built with the bricks of action.
The more bricks the larger and more resilient the castle.
But you have to be able to look back and see the castle you’ve built.
You need to track your progress.
Keep it simple.
Start with a big X on the calendar for every day you showed up and did your best.
Line up the X’s and try not to break the streak.
There is nothing more motivating then a full calendar of consistent action.
- Take action today!
- Track your progress
- Review your progress
- Transplant Day / Hospital Day 2
- A Good Foundation
- Yellow Flower
- Travel Test Apple
- Self Portrait
- Pepper on White
- German Hotel
- Paper Ball
- Flowers and Orange
- Peach on Black
- Elevating the Mundane 1
- Satsuma and Vase
A journey begins with the first step.
But it’s still a long journey full of challenges.
To keep us on the path we need to cultivate willpower by making progress towards an achievable goal.
But singular focus on a far off goal can become rumination on a mountain of work.
All that weight will crush your motivation.
Instead, break your goal into smaller chunks.
Create milestones to reach every month and break those into daily micro wins.
Your motivation thrives on progress and making progress daily will keep your motivation burning long into the future.
“It’s the small choices and the small actions that bear us irresistibly toward our destiny!”~ Brian Johnson
My greatest achievements in art have been built on one rule.
30 minutes a day, for the rest of my life, no matter what.
“But I can’t get anything finished in only 30 minutes!”
It’s not about finishing it’s about progress.
Finishing is inevitable if you progress consistently.
The journey to mastery begins with one step.
But the most important is the next step, and the next, and the next…
- What’s a meaningful goal for you?
- How can you break it down?
- What is the next small step you can take today?
The twine and numbered hanging photos of my paintings is a physical representation of the past 3200 plus days of my daily art journey. Originally I had this timeline hung under all the paintings but it was too close to the floor and too distracting from the paintings. We then decided to give it it’s own section and move it over the windows while also adding another sign with wisdom.
The string you’re looking at is a physical representation of a timeline.
Specifically, my timeline over the past 3200 + days with a small selection of work over that time.
I want to show you how as little as 30 minutes a day can develop into true skill and a massive amount of work.
I keep track to see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve progressed.
I keep track to build a stockpile of motivational fuel.
I keep track to build self-efficacy, I believe I can because I’ve done it before.
The concept is easy. Use whatever method you can to track your daily creative habit.
Red X’s on a calendar. Photos with your phone. A Spreadsheet. Daily journal. Online tracking application.
Whichever works best for you!
Start today and keep the streak alive.
Use the memories of past successes as fuel to power you through today’s challenges.
It’s all about moving forward. Patiently, persistently, consistently.
- How can you track your daily creative habit?
- How can you keep the tracking simple?
- What method of tracking will motivate you the most?
( You can see all 3200+ days of art on here. )