THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Well, hello. This is your hostess, artist Miriam Schulman, and you’re listening to Episode 113 of The Inspiration Place Podcast. I’m so honored that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about how this time is shaping my art practice and the lessons for you on bringing playfulness into your art. So, in today’s episode, you’ll discover why you need to embrace your inner weirdo, why the opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression. So, to lift yourself out of depression, you need to bring playfulness into your life. Finally, why as artists, it’s so important to understand the relationship between stress and creativity.
Now, I want to confess something to you before we get started. I’ve actually been working on this episode for a few weeks. There are thoughts here from a current podcast interview that I was on, ones that I’ve been listening to myself, Brené Brown lessons. The episode was getting longer and longer and not very polished. I was trying to polish it. I said, “You know what? I just got to get into the studio and record it and get that out into the world.” Just like I say to my clients, “Done is better than perfect.” So, if today feels a little bit disjointed, I’m jumping around from topic to topic, that’s why, but there’s so much I wanted to share with you. I wanted to get it out into the world.
So, here’s what’s happening right now, I feel that this pandemic has stirred up so many feelings. I’ve talked about this before, but here’s what’s different. It feels very similar to 9/11. However, I remember when we first went down into lockdown in New York in the middle of March, I was under the naive point of view that it was going to be temporary, that we were going to be out of it in three months or six months. Now, seven months later. I understand we’re only halfway there. Reconciling with that has brought up a lot of feelings. What I’m seeing from artists that I work with, artists that I coach, people that I’m talking to, this is an interesting time. Yeah, it’s a heartbreaking time. It’s a surreal time. Yes, it often sucks.
We do have to acknowledge those feelings, not to have toxic positivity about it. Really important to process those feelings, so you can move through them. However, the light of what I’m seeing right now is how people are evolving, how their art is evolving, how I am evolving, how this is an awakening moment, how this is a redefining moment, how this moment is forcing us to face our own mortality. I know I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but I’m hoping to bring a new angle to this conversation today.
Now, if you rewind 20 years ago, I had a really good job on Wall Street, meaning I made a lot of money. That’s how I defined a really good job. What I was doing was interesting, was intellectually interesting. I was really good at my job. I wasn’t sure I wanted to give that up, because I had a pretty poor childhood. I didn’t have money. I didn’t want to give up that financial freedom. But by 1998, my loans were paid off, things were looking good. It starts to become painfully obvious that something had to change in my life. In 1998, that was shortly after the birth of my daughter, but this isn’t just a story about me as a mother wanting to be home with my kids. It’s a much bigger story than that.
So, I was working at a hedge fund and my hedge fund famously exploded. What does that mean when a hedge fund exploded? It means we lost a lot of money. How much money? Over $4 billion, yeah, that’s billion, billions. If you’re not familiar with hedge funds and all that… I’m assuming most of you, my listeners, are not. … this one event in 1998, the company I worked in actually caused the financial crisis of 1998. During that time, they laid off a lot of people. My bosses considered me “worth keeping”. There was a combination of that, as well as I also came to them and offered to go part time, which essentially amounted to a pay cut, because the truth was nobody was really doing much work then. Our company had blown up.
What was happening is the big banks, the Federal Reserve, sent in the big banks to bail us out, because we were considered too large to fail. They needed to keep our company afloat, because otherwise, we would have taken the entire financial system down with us and caused depression. I’m not overstating. This is actually what happened then. Being in that situation as an employee, what that meant was that they were paying my salary, even though they really didn’t have much for me to do. My immediate supervisor, the partner who was supervising me left. So, nobody was really paying attention that I had nothing to do.
Now, for anyone who thinks that’s a dream job to get paid to do nothing, it really isn’t. It really isn’t. I went into work every day. I put in my FaceTime, but there wasn’t really anything to do to distract me from the fact that I was essentially getting paid to leave my kid at home. Doing nothing is nobody’s life purpose. A year prior to that, 1997, when I was actually doing work for my company, I could focus in on what the day to day of my job was, writing these computer programs for these financial derivative products. I could get involved in what that was and the intellectual process of it, but now, that was stripped away.
All that was happening is I was getting dressed up every day and pretending to work. During the same time, right after my company went under and I was kept on as this kind of skeleton employee, the skeleton crew that was brought in. The reason they kept us on if you’re wondering, even though the company blew up, is they decided they were going to raise money again, they’re going to start a new hedge fund. They wanted me to be part of that new hedge fund. They didn’t know what capacity that was going to be. I was afraid to tell them anybody that I really wasn’t doing anything. I did try to look for more opportunities, but I wasn’t finding it.
Like I said, my grandmother passed away during this time. Before she passed, I had the opportunity to go fly down and visit her on her deathbed. I asked her what we all want to ask people, if they are cogent enough on their deathbed, what she thought the meaning of life was. Her answer to me was to be needed. So, although my company was still paying me, I knew the truth. I wasn’t needed there anymore. So, when I got pregnant, which was really immediately after my grandmother passed away, by the way, with baby number two, I decided to quit that job.
I didn’t quit it right away. Of course, I waited until December when they paid me my holiday bonus, but that was the plan. I did not wait until I gave birth. I didn’t wait until my maternity leave to do it. I figured I had enough in savings to figure out what my next step was going to be. People hearing the story, not everyone has that privilege. I get that, but I had no idea what it was. Now often when I tell the story about how I was on Wall Street and 9/11 happened and then I became a full time artist, I make it sound really succinct, like that was all that happened, because it makes for better storytelling.
But the truth was it really wasn’t obvious to me right away to become an artist, mostly because I had limiting beliefs, ones that I know many of you have that I couldn’t make it as an artist. So, during that maternity leave, I was actually starting to fantasize about going back to a similar job at a similar type of hedge fund or another trading firm. And then 9/11 happened. But when I saw that office building that I used to work at being burned to the ground because they were showing it on television, it was definitely burning the bridges moment. I knew at that moment, “Okay, this is clearly a sign from the universe. You should not go back at all.”
I mean, I know 9/11 didn’t happen because of me, but listen, just like nothing happening now is because of any of us as individuals, but we can make whatever we want mean anything we want in our lives. I tell people not to wait for that big sign from the universe. If you’re feeling stirrings, it’s always better to listen to that voice and take action. Stealing advice from the world of hedge funds and investments, it’s always better to get in on an investment early. Imagine if you had bought Amazon stock back in 1997. So, the earlier you get in on an opportunity and in on an investment, the better.
Which, by the way, reminds me, I just want to interrupt our dialogue for a moment, I wanted to let you know that I am taking applications for 2021 for the Artists Incubator Mastermind Program. So, if you’re lacking a solid strategy or winning mindset, if you’re disappointed with your current art sales, I can help you with that. If you’ve been listening to this podcast, you found these tips helpful, maybe it’s time for you to take the next logical step and come work with me.
The Mastermind Program is not for people who are dipping their toes in, it’s for people who are ready to commit. If that sounds like you and you want to invest in yourself and your art career and join a dynamic community who are doing the same thing, go to schulmanart.com/biz as in B-I-Z to apply now. Those whose application qualifies will get a free strategy call with me and we can discuss how you can make money as an artist in 2021. I would love to chat with you. Go to schulmanart.com/biz. Now back to the show.
This is something that artists deal with all the time is mortality, their mortality. Now, the Dutch had a very strong tradition of using symbols of mortality in their paintings. If you look at Dutch still life, you will often see a skull or rotting fruit. This form of art is called vanitas. It’s a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life. It will depict the futility of pleasure, the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of wealth and symbols of death. Other common vanitas symbols include bubbles, smoke, watches, hour glasses, and even musical instruments. Why musical instruments? Because you only hear the sound while they’re being played. So, it’s about something that’s very temporary and passing.
Now, these are all reminders that none of us are coming out of here. We all have precious time. What living through a pandemic is teaching us, we have actual death around us, as well as the knowledge that so much of what we took for granted last year in 2019 was also temporary. Our way of life is temporary. Many of us are mourning that. I know I am. I miss what I used to do before the pandemic. I miss having lunch in New York City with my friends. I miss traveling. I miss all of that. It’s just breathing on people and giving them hugs. Pandemics, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when my company blew up, these are all big public reminders.
Many of us have more personal reminders. My father passed away when I was only five years old. Growing up that way, knowing that we do not have a choice of how long we’re going to live, my father’s death being a part of my own reality, my whole life, definitely shaped me. I also believe that has made me more sensitive as a person. I don’t like to say to people, “Oh, I wish my father hadn’t died,” or try to imagine what my life would have been like if my father hadn’t died, because I know there is so much about my own story, all the things I talk about, that has made me an artist.
To regret anything that’s happened in my past, even working on Wall Street, by the way, to regret any of it is to reject something that now has shaped me as a person, because all those things that have happened to me, all those things that have happened to you, all the good things and the bad things both have shaped you as a person. So, all those things have made me who I am including the death of my father at a young age. All these things have made us who we are including the pandemic. So, to wish it hasn’t happened is to wish we aren’t who we are.
Now, this time we’re living through is also shaping us, but we do have some choices in the way it shapes us. It’s a choice. Either you choose how you spend your time, how you spend your day, how you choose your thoughts, or let life choose for you. You can make a change in any point in your life in your thinking and in your actions. Don’t fool yourself that it will be easier to make changes in the future. Oh, I can do that after my kids are out of my house or after I retire, whatever you choosing to insert into that after sentence, because after your kids leave the house, who’s going to care for your aging parents or your partner? You see, in our youth, we feel all these restrictions. Perhaps we’re doing what our parents want or what we feel society expects of us.
As we get older, we feel that those restrictions get swapped for responsibilities. I know and I recognize, and I acknowledge that for a woman, this game is not rigged in our favor. Yet, we do get to choose what we do with every day that we’re alive. We do get to make that choice every single day. What am I going to do today? How am I going to live my day? What am I going to think about today? It’s really empowering to live your life that way, believing you’re in the driver’s seat, making these choices for yourself. It’s really disempowering to do the opposite and to let some of those choices be made for you to fail ahead of time by not trying. The only way you fail is when you give up on your dreams.
Now, I do recognize that there is much that isn’t possible right now, but that’s not a helpful thought. A more powerful thought is what has this time now made possible for me. For example, yeah, we don’t have as many in-person opportunities to sell our art as we did last year, but the online market has expanded exponentially. Why? Because the whole world has gone indoors and shut down. One thing I also want to acknowledge because it’s so important that we give ourselves some grace around this and the only way to heal it and to make ourselves stronger is to acknowledge it. That is creativity is affected by our thoughts and feelings. The pandemic certainly might have zapped your creativity. I want to acknowledge that.
You can’t be thinking, “Oh, okay, we’re going to write a book and go make some paintings and clean out our closets.” That kind of energy, that might have worked the first few weeks of March and April, but burnout can happen really fast running on that kind of surge capacity. It can be a challenge I think for many of us who are used to filling our creative wells in different ways. Those ways aren’t available now.
We also more importantly need to acknowledge that there’s a biological basis for feeling stuck in your creativity. Stress is one of the most significant factors that can dampen creativity. Creativity is intricately dependent upon your mental capacity. When we feel stressed out, that affects our mental capacity. So, to stay creative, we need to keep ourselves calm. We need to keep ourselves relaxed. As artists, it’s very important to understand the relationship between stress and creativity. This can create a paradox when you are used to using your art to help you relax.
What I thought would be helpful to you is I want to share a strategy that I am using right now that is helping me. I’m going to get to that in a moment, but what I want to also let you know is that I am not superhuman. I’m not immune to these stresses around us. In fact, I’ve actually never been more in touch with my pain and my emotions than I have been during the last six, seven months. So, the art that I have been doing, it has been deeper felt. Part of this I admit is, because I’m no longer on my medication. My doctor decided I didn’t need to be on it anymore. I don’t know why she thought that was a good idea during a pandemic to take me off but here we go.
Now, I find myself actually feeling my feelings a lot more than I used to, I’m getting lumped up and I’m crying during dumb movies. I’m crying during commercials, but it actually feels good to me to be more in touch with my emotions than I was six months ago. Back in February, I was living a little more on the surface. Now I feel like everything that I’m doing, everything, I’m feeling more. I don’t think it’s just because I weaned myself off the medication. I think it’s also a lot of it has to do with, because I’m spending so much time in the cave, meaning I’m at home, but I’m spending so much time in the cave.
I’m more sensitive. I feel my emotions more now, because most of the time everything is homeostasis. There’s not much rippling me. So, anything that ripples that water, I’m going to notice it and I’m going to feel it. Pre-pandemic, life is moving really fast. Actually, I don’t know if you remember, I got sick a lot. I was sick in December. I was sick in February. I’m pretty sure I had COVID in March. I think I was one of the first people to get it in New York and back in March. If you go back to listen to my podcast, you can hear it. When things shut down, it was nice at first having things go slower.
When things are moving more slowly, you have time to pay attention. And then you have time to face some things that you weren’t paying attention to for a long time. It’s like when my company fell apart and I was still going into work, but I wasn’t doing anything. Now I was paying attention to my thoughts about, “Is this really my life purpose?”, because I could have decided to just go and find another financial company to work for. I could have done that choice, but I was listening to my thoughts. I was very tuned in to what I was thinking because everything had slowed down. That’s true for everyone right now. Everything is slowed down. The veil has been lifted. There were so many moments of clarity that both myself and my husband have recognized.
This moment was true, especially June and July. Relationships, and I’m not talking about the relationship between my husband and I. We’re actually really good, but us as a couple have relationships with our synagogue, with other people, with other institutions. We realized, “Oh, wait, this isn’t working for us anymore.” Actually, this hasn’t been working for a long time. The veil was lifted off of that. I think a lot of people are feeling that right now.
By the way, anything I’m talking about, I really do want to hear from you. If you go to schulmanartart.com/113 and you scroll down, there is a place for me to see comments about what you think about what I’m talking about. I’d love to hear from you. Even if you disagree with me, I do want to hear from you. I’d like to hear what you think. What I’m sharing with you right now, I know there’s a lot of people who do feel they’re noticing, “Oh, this isn’t working for me anymore.” In fact, the numbers show that within Wuhan, as soon as they’re locked down was lifted, the divorce rate skyrocketed.
Now, I don’t think that was necessarily only because people are in quarantine and they’re fighting more. It’s more that they now pay attention to what has always been there like, “Okay, this is how it is. Yeah, and it’s been like this for a long time.” That’s why this moment in time is very similar to what I went through with my job blowing up, also of 9/11. In these moments of crises, where not only do you feel your own mortality, but the veil’s lifted.
You’re able to see more clearly what’s working for you in your life, what isn’t working for you. Maybe it’s because you’re no longer going to do the commute you always hated. Maybe you’re not going to go back to that job you never liked, whatever it was. You ask yourself, “Some things aren’t possible now, but what is possible for me now?” So those are the questions that I’m inviting you to ask yourself.
Now, I wanted to circle back to what I said about how June and July felt very pivotal. I think it’s because it was at that time, when in March, in the middle of March, at least in my country, there were many of us, myself included, who had the feeling, “This is temporary. This is just going to be for a few months. We’ll be out of it by the summer.” You may have been telling yourselves, “I’ll wait until this is over, then you’ll have your open studio or whatever.” So, when June or July came, you had to start thinking differently about it. The recognition sunken that this was the new normal. Like I said, now I’m recording this in October.
I don’t even think we’re going to be out of this for another six months. That’s not to paint the doom and gloom, I think we’ll be fully out of it in another six months, but I really want to share the strategies that I’m using right now to get back into my art. Because like I said earlier, I know that it’s difficult for us artists. I’m hearing it from a lot of artists in my community that they had trouble working on their commissions. They had trouble working on their art. They were not feeling creative. They were feeling burnt out. They were feeling stuck. All of that is normal. It’s normal, but there are ways we can deal with that. That is what I want to share and offer with you right now.
So, I came across a quote by Stuart Brown, actually, Brené Brown shared it on her podcast. I think this is something she talks about not just in her podcast, but also in The Gifts of Imperfection. Stuart Brown is the author of Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Here’s the quote, “The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.” Stuart Brown defines play as time spent without purpose.
Let’s unpack this for a moment and what that means for us as artists. So, basically, the opposite of depression is creation, it’s play, playful creation. In other words, in order to get out of being depressed, we can basically paint our way out of this pandemic. If you’re not a painter, whatever it is that your art is, just insert it in there. That’s something that I think is resonating a lot. It’s resonating with people who come to me for art classes and want to learn to paint. They’re finding a lot of comfort and ease through their artwork. But as an artist who paints for a living, that might be different way for you to think about things, to think about your art as play instead of work.
I remember a while ago, my business coach at the time was very strong in saying that we should never say, “Oh, I’m going to play in my studio.” That makes us seem less serious as artists. Now I’m deciding at this point in time to reject that advice fully, because here’s the strategy I want to share with you. Now when I go to work on a commission, now I’m talking 2020, I’m not saying to myself, “I’m going to go work on my commission.” It feels so heavy to me to say that.
So, what I’m saying to myself and I’m not even saying this to myself, I’m actually saying it out loud to my family, makes it feel more real when you say something out loud. So, I’m saying to them, “Hey, I’m going up to my studio right now to splash some paint around.” Now, I’m not really splashing my paint around, but I love using this phrase, because it has brought lightness to my art, a playfulness. By playfulness, it’s an attitude that I’m not bringing to my art. It’s keeping me at the studio tables, inviting me into that play. It’s such a better invitation. It’s allowed me to think about my art in a more experimental way, in a way I have not given myself permission to do for a long time.
So, if you follow my art on Instagram or anywhere else, you see my art… By the way, if you’re not following me, I’m @schulmanart. That’s Schulman with C, in case you didn’t know, S-C-H-U-L-M-A-N-A-R-T. I do more or less realistic watercolor, but what I found myself doing, which was so playful and fun, I have this portrait I’m working on right now. It’s a commission of two girls. I’m using violet. I’m using lavender, not just in the background, but as the under painting in the brown eyes. Now when I finished the painting, I don’t think the parents are going to say, “Why did you paint the eyes purple?” I mean, it’s there, but it’s not there kind of idea. But I love what I’m doing with it.
I also made a decision not to film it for social media. It’s a powerful shift for me. One of the things that was keeping me away from my table was the idea that everything I was creating was for consumption of other people. So, this is a commission I’m being paid to do, but it was so freeing to decide, “No, I can paint this however I want. No one has to watch me do it.” I don’t have to sell a video of this afterwards. I don’t even have to post a speed video afterwards. I can just pretend this is just for me.
So, the best part right now is that I’m learning to embrace… There’s just no other way of putting it. I’m learning to embrace my inner weirdo. I want you to know that if this resonates with you. If you feel weird, because you are weird, your art will exist in a much more powerful way when you learn to be comfortable with your own weirdness.
One thing I hear over and over again from artists who come to me who are looking to join the Incubator Program is that I just want to paint what I want to paint. They’re unhappy because they’re not creating the art in the way they want. You can call it weird, you can call it something else. I’m choosing to call it weird today, just because I’m enjoying that word. So, they want to be weird. Here’s what I want you to know, my friend, you do not have to give up your weirdness to create art. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
You have to give into your weirdness to create art and embrace your weirdness and go to that place that is different than everyone else and create art that is different and not care what other people think and not get mad or upset or be resentful. Just embrace that weirdness on every level, because the best art in the world is produced by us weirdos. The best art in the world is much more than just a pretty picture.
Having struggled with depression myself, I already confessed to you I was on medication for many years. It was 10 years. Yeah, 10 years, not that I wasn’t depressed before those 10 years. When I think of my own depression, it’s like staring into a void, which feels very much the opposite of creation. Creation is building something new. The void is like nothing, like real nothingness, just black. Now, I was talking about this recently on a podcast. I was asked if I thought more people are turning to art because they were told that art would heal them. I don’t think that is actually what’s happening. I don’t think anyone’s being told that and following those instructions.
I think it’s kind of more like nobody tells you that you’re hungry. You just start craving things. When you’re hungry, your body tells you. I think for a lot of people, they are craving creativity and play. So, what I’m seeing is not only have my enrollment numbers for my art classes been up, but what I found really exciting was that during the classes that I had in May 2020, I offered my Watercolor Portrait Academy, I noticed the participation was much richer than it had been in the past.
Because in the past, what I would notice is a lot of people would sign up for a class and they knew they had lifetime access. So, some people would be enthusiastic and do it all right away, but other people being like, “Okay, I can get to this later.” But that’s not what I was seeing this summer with my classes. What I saw were that my students were more energized, more involved than ever before, really using this time to become better artists. That was true whether they had been painting for a long time or they hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since college. I absolutely loved seeing that.
Here, I’m jumping a little bit. This is what I was telling you about the beginning, I wrote down so many thoughts. I just had to make sure I got them out to you and discuss them with you while they were still relevant. Before the pandemic, we were so distracted. Life moves so quickly, just the noise of life. And then being forced to slow down, to stay put, and our movements are restricted. Maybe it lets some of that base intuition come back.
Maybe you’re starting to listen to your own voice again, because before your creative whispers, maybe they were buried under a couple levels of this noise. Because that’s exactly what happened to me when my hedge fund blew up in 1998. I still had to go to work. I still had to put in seven hours sitting at my desk, trying to look busy. I wasn’t. I was just thinking about my life. It’s like that for now for a lot of us.
It’s like we were on this train and now the train is stopped. We’re forced to get off the train. Train stops is, “Okay, get out of this village. Walk around for a while.” That’s how life feels like. We can’t get back on that train. We’re here. Now whether that village is the metaphorical village of your mind, of your thoughts, I don’t know what it is for you. We’re here. Like I said earlier, I feel more in touch with my emotions, with my whole sensory process. I’m more tuned in than I have ever been before.
But here’s what’s been really interesting to me. I know everyone responds differently and has different cravings. For me, I do have my own art practice. Am I making more art? No, I’m not making more art, but my art is changing. I’m not just doing more art though, I feel that I’m expressing myself differently than I was six months, a year ago. So, like I said, I’m more playful with my art, I’m doing more writing than I was before. It’s not that I’ve given up on painting. I just haven’t increased my painting. I’m increasing my creative expression within everything that I did before.
So, let me be clear, it’s not that I have more time than I had before. If anything, much of that alone time I need to be creative has been cut short. I have a lot of demands. I work from home. My family members are home. My 20-year-old is not in college. He’s living at home, taking classes. He comes in. He talks to me about his newly hatched plans. He wants to discuss them. My daughter is practicing her cello right next door. She also wants to come in and talk to me. She’s been home most of the time since March. I definitely don’t have more time. I definitely don’t have any more time than anybody else, but I feel that I have more to say. That’s the idea of the craving for me. I’m putting my ideas out there. I’m less worried about being judged. In fact, I’m embracing it.
I created a stir over on my Facebook page recently when I posted a watercolor painting of a housefly. I know a lot of my audience was upset with me, because they understood the subtle political innuendos that I was making. Maybe that wasn’t in alignment with how they felt, but here’s the thing. This is the part that I found offensive. You can think what you want politically, I can think what I want, but to say an artist should not express themselves. Hey, that’s not cool. True art is not just about pretty pictures. Artists should be able to express all parts of themselves. Art does not just exist on a two-dimensional surface and not mean anything. That is the kind of art that really nobody wants. If you’re wondering why people aren’t buying your art, that could be why.
So, I lost a lot of followers that day and subscribers that day. That’s okay with me, because the truth is while there were many people who chose to stop following me, there were others who decided to follow me harder, because they saw something in themselves, not necessarily because I had the same political views as they did. But maybe they saw here was somebody who was brave enough to share their views, to express themselves. That’s a big shift for me. Last year, if I posted something like that, I may have retreated. I may have taken it down. Oh, no, I can’t offend anybody.
I think that criticism used to feel like an attack. Whereas now when that happens, I feel like, “Oh, that’s interesting. They think differently than me, okay.” And then it’s up to me to decide whether or not to take on insight or to leave it by the side, because it might not be valid for me. For people who felt that I should not be sharing my views, I’m rejecting that. I fully reject the idea that artists shouldn’t express themselves or hide parts of themselves, because they are afraid that others may not agree with them.
That does not feel honest and authentic to me. That doesn’t feel like a true artist to me. Oh, this part, you can see because it’s pretty. This part, you shouldn’t see because it’s less pretty. Mm-mm (negative). I’m not on that anymore. That’s not the train I want to get back on. When people criticize you, you have to decide for yourself, “Is it true? Does it matter? Do you even care?” It’s very freeing to be on the other side of that and just say, “Hey, that doesn’t matter to me.”
So, are people being told they need to paint more? No, but I know that people are craving self-expression. Nobody’s telling me to pay more. No one’s telling me to express myself more. I’m not telling even myself to do it. I’m just craving it. I would say it’s more than a craving. I say being an artist is not just a craving, but it’s a calling. You really don’t feel sometimes as an artist that you have a choice. You just have to do it. Where the choice comes in is are you going to do it for a living? Am I going to do this full time? Am I going to lean into this, or am I just interested in making pretty pictures? I know many artists feel that they’re going to create their art no matter what.
With my art students, I’m very practical. I teach you the skills you need. It’s about a set of tools and techniques. Here’s what you can do to create paintings. You can use this to create paintings in your own style. These are the techniques and tools. Here’s the step by step. Here’s how you can learn them. When it comes to the artists who come to me looking to build their art careers, it’s similar. It’s a strategy. Here’s the step by step, here’s how you create an email campaign, here’s what you put into it, but so much about both groups of people is about managing all that mind drama. That’s where the work comes in.
That whole thing that I was talking about, worrying about being criticized, worrying about being rejected, worrying about expressing yourself and people disagreeing with you, that’s the biggest work that you can do. That’s what’s going to help you evolve into the next version of yourself. That’s where you can get uncomfortable and do something that feels really scary. Anytime we do anything, whether it’s artwork, whether it’s sending out an email or it’s posting a picture on social media and it feels uncomfortable because there’s risk evolved, our brains are going to feel uncomfortable.
Our brains can’t tell the difference between getting eaten by a tiger or maybe someone’s not going to like my artwork, not going to like me, not going to agree with something that I’m expressing. Anytime we do something that feels risky, our brains will have fear, which will make us come up with doubts, which will give us reasons, reasons meaning thoughts, which may not be true thoughts. Your inner critic will kick in. The imposter syndrome will kick in. Those doubts are the brain’s mechanism for keeping us safe, from keeping us eaten by tigers and sharks or trolls on social media, those doubts kick in.
That’s when you get confused. That’s when you don’t send out as many emails. That’s when you don’t create as much art, because those doubt and fears are going to lead to confusion and overwhelm. That’s going to keep you stuck. That’s what leads to people getting stuck. Whether that’s creatively or in your business, it all starts with managing that fear, that fear. The fear that leads to doubt. The doubt that leads to confusion and overwhelm. The confusion and overwhelm that leads to procrastination, poor time management.
Because whenever you’re confused or overwhelmed, if you don’t know what to do next, you’re not going to do anything. It’s huge that overwhelm. It’s the number one emotion people share with me when they come to me looking for coaching that they either lack confidence or they feel overwhelmed, and sometimes it’s both. But that is something that it’s fixable. That’s the drug that I can deal with you, the confidence drug. That’s why so much of my podcast is about your mindset. Of course, I share specific strategies about selling art.
Of course, people who like to paint for fun, that may not resonate with you either. But when I talk about inner critic, imposter syndrome, I know it actually which is both my audience who wants to paint for fun and people who want to sell their art, because it all comes from the same place. That same fear of failing, the same fear of not being able to handle success, the same fear of both the inner critic and the outer critic. Many people have a cocktail of all these things. I know a lot of my strength and my confidence has come from the resilience I have created because my father did pass away when I was five. So, this isn’t my first rodeo. It’s that resilience factor. What’s the worst thing that could happen to me now? I’ve already walked in the coal.
I’ve actually found that the older I get, the more resilience I am creating for myself. I have seen that actually with some of my older clients that they do come over that hump and they have more resilience than some of my younger clients. But no matter your age, the trick is getting past that fear. It’s not about getting rid of the fear. The fear will be there. It’s not like instantly you’re all successful, everything’s great. But if you start having small wins, celebrating your wins, you will build the momentum. That momentum is what builds your confidence and that momentum, and the confidence is what builds your results, which is monumental.
Sometimes I think we’re looking for this big Hollywood moment where everything’s come together and now, we’re in a gallery or museum, but usually it’s not that single thing. Usually, it’s the journey. It’s not being bold. It’s about learning to ask for what you want. That’s how you’re going to get opportunities.
Okay, so I’ve shared a lot with you today. I’ve included links in the show notes, schulmanart.com/113. Don’t forget, if you like this episode, you have to check out the Artist Incubator Mastermind Program, my private coaching program for artists who want to be brave, who want to do bigger things with their art, and take it to the next level. It is by application only. I limit the number of spots of people who can work with me in the mastermind.
You can apply by going to schulmanart.com/biz. That’s biz as in the letter B, letter I, letter Z. If your application qualifies you, you get a free strategy session with me, and you’ll get my eyes on your art business. We’ll discuss the steps you need to take to reach your goals and thrive. That’s whether you join the program or not, you get that with me absolutely free. So, we said a lot here today.
Next week, we have on the one and only Eric Maisel. He is a returning guest. He’s going to be talking about the power of daily practice. Trust me, you’re not going to want to miss it. Make sure you hit the subscribe or follow button in your podcast app. If you’re feeling extra generous, please leave me a review. We’ve now made it so much easier for you to leave a review. Just hop on over to schulmanart.com/review-podcast. By the way, if you pop your Instagram handle at the end of that review, I’ll give you a shout out over on my IG stories. Alright guys, thanks so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place, next week. Make it a great one.
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