Isolation as an artist

It’s funny really isn’t it, we strive to live the dream as master of our own destiny – artists who work from a studio, producing art that not only fulfils a passion, but actually pays for a lifestyle too. But did we factor in the isolation that it can bring? Some artists relish this and delight in their own company, but others can find this new way of life quite lonely.

I think that it also becomes more apparent in the winter months where the days are shorter. Plus, It’s colder so going out isn’t quite as appealing and the fact that the nights draw in and there’s a general gloom around – those beautiful, Crisp, sunny winter days seem to have been few and far between in the uk this year so far. I think that the lack of sun can certainly add to this feeling. 

So how can we live the dream without feeling so alone?

I have done what every self respecting writer and artist would do – and I have made a list of ideas – with the pro’s and cons….If you have any ideas of your own, then do feel free to leave a comment and share them at the end of this article.

Get a Pet

Not something that everyone can do, depending on their circumstances, but the overwhelming affection and greeting you get when you arrive home is a lovely thing – plus many artist assistants love to keep you company in your studio – whether that’s an actual studio, spare room, corner of the lounge or corner of the sofa – they will want to be by your side (or on your paper)

Listen to a Podcast

It’s a no-brainer isn’t it and it would be remiss of me to not mention the value of listening to a podcast. Now, I don’t need to explain to you about podcasts and the fact there is a huge range of them out there covering every topic you can imagine – you can find mine on iTunes and Spotify and various platforms!

An Alternative to a podcast is an audible book. No one ever feels lonely listening to the likes of Stephen Fry eloquently read Harry Potter…or business and motivational type books can be great to listen to as well. Or one of my personal favourites that I highly recommend is Adam Kay – This is Going to Hurt, you will need a sense of humour for this one!

Watching TV

Which sounds a bit odd if you’re concentrating on your work but I can quite happily work my way through a box set mainly based on just listening to it. I tend to stream it on my tablet, which I have on a goose neck holder – so I can glance at it every now and then. Radio is a good alternative

Online Support

This isn’t so easy because whilst there are a ton of groups out there, filled to the brim with artists looking to chat and share – this is not really conducive to getting any work done. So what I would suggest is that you make a concerted effort to really get to know a couple of those online folk well, check ,out my supportive group on Facebook for artists, and look for people that you feel you’d really get along with in ‘real life’ which then – this leads me on to my next item.

Skype Call

If you fancy chatting away to someone whilst you work, then Skyping them for a natter for an hour or so can really break your day up. It’s just like having a friend in the room there with you. Myself and Jill (my podcast co-host) often speak to each other over Skype for a chat, podcast prep or about the course, and other than when we are recording, we’ll normally be scribbling away with our pastels or paints as we chat. 

We also tend to seek each other out for critiques too – normally via WhatsApp. I know that Jill will tell me if I’m in the throes of creating an absolute shocker – and she’ll also give me valuable advice or offer solutions, in addition to saying something looks great – but only if it does!

I know this is something we are still planning to offer in the Life and Pencils Community group, we’re just figuring out the best way to go about it.

Local Groups or Art Classes

Yes, it is bringing you away from your studio, but a few hours out of the studio and mingling with humans can dissipate those feelings of isolation – even if it’s only for a short while. Going long periods of time on your own will allow those feelings to build, but by breaking it up here and then, it tends to keep those negative feelings away. Plus, if you join an art class, you can brush up on those skills in addition to meeting new, like-minded people.

Work In a Public Space

If you like the feeling of being around people but not having to interact that much, have a chat with a local cafe and see how they would feel about you setting up in there for one (or however many mornings a week). You’d be surprised how agreeable they will be, because an in-house artist gives them an edge to lure people in, they show that they are supporting local business in their community and it’s not costing them a penny.

The advantages to doing something like this are ten-fold for you. You’re out of isolation, so that’s that covered. But you are now exposed to an array of people who will be curious about what you are doing – can you even begin to imagine how much business you could generate from doing something like this? The amount of people who will take a card, visit your online site or page, buy from you directly in the cafe (especially if the cafe was also agreeable to displaying some of your art) because they become 100 times more likely to buy from you when they can see you actually producing the work. It’s an instant feeling of trust, admiration and want.

And of course, once the Spring and Summer arrives, there is so much scope to broadening your social art life, painting in parks or on beaches will allow you to interact with your community and gets you away from the solitude of the studio. Even throwing the windows open, breathing in the air and hearing the birds sing takes the edge off.

So there’s a few ideas to get you going, at the end of the day, loneliness won’t go away unless you are prepared to put yourself out a little bit and try, even if it means putting yourself out of your normal comfort zone – life is far too short to not grab it by the balls and give it a shot!

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