Update to the update: I got process — do you?

Last time, I promised to talk about my new process that allows me to work on all my art practices and projects without overwhelm (including blogging). With my new work process, I don’t have to choose one arting thing over another…and I still get to do it all! And like I said yesterday, this Work Process so damn GOOD (for me, at least) that I need to share…

 But first, the back story

Forest page

I completely understand why the forest is such an archetypal setting for being lost. I was there once. Wandering around, not creating much, but always hearing a sort of shouting in the distance, “Over here! Over here!”

Thank goodness I finally started to follow the sound of the voice—my Inner Artist.

I finally pushed through the brush (brandishing paintbrush, pens, scissors, glue) into a wide open clearing.

(Does everyone have such cinematic moments in their imaginations?)

For the longest time I just took off in the bright light. I jumped in and just created what I felt like. I adopted art journaling as my anchor practice because it is such a great platform to explore, practice, and play, and then I started to dabble with some of the other stuff I wanted to create: watercolor, sketching, weaving, assemblage, collage, photography, writing, blogging, art challenges, jewelry making, online classes online, local classes…but I never got too far into any one of them, as you can imagine.

Because I had become lost in another way.

All this free creating was fun and absolutely essential as I reconnected with my inner artist, but soon lack of direction and growing overwhelm took over. As I talked about yesterday, I consistently neglected this blog, choosing "to art" instead, but also feeling a sort of paralysis much of the time:

Should I work in my art journal—or sketch? Journal—or blog? Blog or work on a project? Which project? Which skills should I work on? What medium now?

I think all art makers face this dilemma at some point. Whether we create as a hobby or for livelihood, whether we have more time or less to devote to it, arting is essentially self directed. We get to choose what we make and how we do it—and if we make at all. We clear our own path.

Which is another way to say I badly needed a process that would take me through this new stretch of forest.

 And that’s when the magic happened

So I’m making a background in my art journal one day and in the back of my mind I’m thinking about what kind of process might help. As often happens (so much about arting is unconscious), for some inexplicable reason I’m suddenly painting flowers and it’s like, why? But I go with it. Then, again for some reason I don’t understand, I feel like I need to add four containers. So I tape four pockets onto the page. Hmmm, I think, I do have four distinct arting containers that each hold some part of my arting goals...

AJ - Four containers

And before I know it I’m creating tags to put in pockets and writing notes about what that container holds for me. Here's what I came up with:

Art Journaling will always be my anchor practice. I do it (and love it) because it’s where I play and learn and practice and gain so much insight (like now) without judgment or striving.

Container AJ

Out of practice, I hope, will grow completed projects. Like most of us, I have a LOT of things I want to make, which can be easily overwhelming so I came up with this one rule:

Container projects

I can start anything I want, take any class I wanted, but I have to pick one project at a time if I have any hope of working in the other containers, too.

Sketching Practice. I want to improve my drawing skills because (now that I know anyone can do it, even me) I like to draw and I know it’s a fundamental, a skill for anything else I make. But I often don’t practice enough and this is a definite area in need of growth.

Container sketch

Finally, blogging. As I talked about yesterday, I couldn’t seem to fold blogging into my arting practice. But I’ve come to understand that it is absolutely an important container for my art making—sometimes I think of it as field notes for both myself and other creatives.

Container blog

So after I created all these containers and their contents, I stoodd back and I saw that they look like pots with flowers growing inside them (abstractly, at least to me). That’s exactly what I’m doing, I thought. I am growing my art—which had me hurrying over to the watercolors to finish my page...

Growing art page

growing art collage

So that was the first step— I came to real clarity about what I want to do in my arting practice—but I hadn't yet solved the last piece of my dilemma which was, of course, how...

Hmmm, I thought, I've got all these pots—but how can I tend to them all?

 And that’s when I heard from that quiet voice (who no longer seems to be shouting from a distance):

You don’t have to choose between them…if you create a different relationship with time. Cycle through the pots.

 Choir singing, as I said yesterday, paradigm shift.

I immediately got to it—and cycling works beautifully! I’m so much less conflicted.

How, again?

 My (New) Work Process

I simply I cycle through my containers. In order:

 Art journal.

Project (just one!).

Sketching practice.


 Then I repeat the cycle.

Simple, right? So simple I can't believe I didn't see it sooner!

Now I know from one session to the next which “pot” to work in. One key is that I can take as much time as I want or have  (minutes, hours or days) before moving to the next pot—and I can but I don’t have to finish what I’m working on. That is, I’m free to leave and pick up where I left off when I get to that pot again (after cycling through the others).

Repeat: I can and do cycle through these four pots as time permits— over days or even weeks, if necessary. This is not a daily to do list (I have been known to try).

When I do turn to the next pot, then I either continue where I’d left off the last time I was there, or begin something new. Easy! (Although beginning something new is never exactly easy—but at least the process ensures I do it (no skipping allowed).

 The cycling process removes the burden of choosing between pots because it ensures that I regularly do get to each of them over time—no more neglected pots!

If you feel like you have too many things you want to create and feel like you're always struggling with finding time to do it all...

Why not try my process?


1. First identity your "pots".  Try journaling about the kinds of projects and practices you want to work on--and most importantly, WHY. (If we don't know why something is important to us, then why would we do it?)

2. Then, set up a cycling order through your pots.

3. Finally, start on the first one and start cycling through them,. Come back to #1 after you completed the round. Repeat.

And let me know how it works for you, okay?

I for one am happy to report (field note) that this forest is a magical place filled with wildflowers...