Artists aren’t lazy; our creativity is challenged constantly and our mind is running to escape from reality.
Creativity is a nonstop process in which the mind of an artist is at work all the time. From the time we wake up to maybe 4 in the morning, we are thinking up new ideas and constantly challenging our imaginations and ourselves. This can sometime lead to mental fatigue for the artist, causing them to retract themselves from society to recover and recollect themselves. But what separates the good artists from the bad is that the good artists know when to get back to work, compared to those who would rather stay down and quit.
I once read a story about a man who ran 5 miles with Bruce Lee. The man struggled to keep up with Bruce Lee and at one point he was going to give up, saying that he felt like he was going to have a heart attack and die. In response Lee simply said, “Then die.” His reply motivated the man to finish the 5-mile run and afterwards the man asked Lee why he said that. Bruce Lee explained, “If you put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”
What Bruce Lee said can be related back to the life of an artist. Drawing is very much the same as running the 5 miles; learning means changing, and that hurts at times. You might be able to achieve more than you think if you keep trying and constantly work to improving yourself. I know some artists who like to spend their time closing their eyes to let their brains work in imagining and creating new ways to draw before putting the idea down on their medium of choice. This method doesn’t make these artists lazy as you would assume; these artists are just doing more mental work than physical work at that moment. But once these artists have a clear idea of what they want to create, they will work almost nonstop until completion in fear of forgetting the idea or losing their source of inspiration.
Drawing professionally or as a hobby both requires concentration, focus and attention to detail. These traits often lead us to hunch over and get in real close to our work which can lead to us being tense and stressed if more managed correctly and can cause artists to quit. Especially if a person is a professional artist, there is more pressure on that person than there is for a person who is just doing art as a hobby. Drawing is something that you’re learning, rather than something that you’re trained and skillful at, it is the learning aspect that causes the fatigue, and not the drawing itself. You are challenging your brain to be used in a different way which can be hard on the artist’s mentality and can lead to the artist in being tired. But there are solutions in preventing artist fatigue and from quitting halfway. Here are some helpful tips in working smart based on my own personal experience:
1. Take regular breaks — Sitting for long periods of time, especially in front of a monitor if you are a digital artist, can cause high levels of fatigue to the body. Be sure to take short breaks in between working to recollect yourself. Get off your ass and move around, eat a snack or do some light exercises to energize your body. These breaks can help your tired brain to think of new ways or a renewed perspective in working on your art.
2. Try making art while standing — When people are sitting, they are only using one half of their bodies while the other half isn’t doing anything. This means half of your body isn’t getting the amount of oxygen needed to function effectively. It is much harder to be sleepy if you are making art while standing. Move around from time to time to keep your body active which in turn keeps your brain activity active.
3. Be mindful of how you’re making art — Like tip #2, learning to control how you’re making art is important. I’ve learned that the amount of grip you use while drawing can play a part in how tired you can get. Relaxing your arm will result in a better posture for your body. Also by mastering the control of your grip while drawing you can lessen the strain on your arm muscles and joints, thus avoiding those annoying hand-cramps.
4. Understanding your bio-rhythms — We as humans are all different in some sort of way. This also means that our bodies tend to function better at different times of the day. Figure out if you are more of a morning person or a night person and aim to do your artworks during that time when you are more active. I’m more of a night person so I tend to get more work done during the night than I do during the day. Just be sure not to over-exert yourself during the time you aren’t active because you are then burning the candle at both ends, and that never produce good works.