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"In the Studio"
An Interview with Artist Cecilia Swatton

(This interview is continued from the March 20 2009 Artellagram...)

Artella: I have a lot of creative ideas and big dreams but I stop myself because I think it's just too late in life to try to follow them. What advice do you have for getting over this mindset?

Cecilia: If you still have a pulse, it's not too late.

It might not be possible at this stage to eat the whole enchilada; in that case, I would encourage eating parts of it. To take an example from my writing experience: It may be too late to research and write a string of novels each the length of War and Peace, but it isn't too late to enrich daily life through journaling or through writing memoirs, one page at a time, day by day.

Artella: What do you do to overcome or get past artistic blocks?

Cecilia: I think one way to overcome artistic block is to read books on artmaking; another is to visit art shows which can now be done via the Internet, enabling artists in remote areas to view a wide array of exciting art. And when it's financially feasible, attending hands-on workshops is, for me, even more stimulating. Art workshops of all kinds are advertised on the Web. Even if the workshop facilitator turns out a disappointment, the experience itself is still well worthwhile because of the opportunity to mix with, and learn from, fellow artists.

I often have the opposite of a creativity block. I have so many ideas all at once; I can never do just one. But I never get anything completed when multiple projects are demanding consideration. Do you have this problem and how do you handle it?

Artella: Do you plan ahead when you're creating, or does your art unfold more spontaneously?

Cecilia: I thrive on spontaneity, yet I know some artists who make preliminary sketches and/or notes in journals that they carry at all times. I think each of us needs to experiment to discover whatever works best for the individual.

Like many other artists, I'm barraged with more ideas than I could possibly execute in one lifetime. I seldom make notes or preliminary sketches of these ideas because, once I've done this, the energy dissipates so as result, some ideas seem to float away, although I'm sure they are hanging around somewhere in the back of my head. If it's meant to be, an important one will come back to the front of my head when the time is right.

I don't necessarily stick with my original idea, once I've entered the process of artmaking.

For me, artmaking is a spiritual experience. I see it as a way of reaching a quiet inner space, a space where hides the innocent part of me, the inner child ... a space where the Holy Spirit is welcome. I feel it's the Holy Spirit who gently guides me when the artmaking process 'takes over.'

I've heard many artists describe this artmaking experience as being 'in the zone' where time passes unnoticed and the soul flies free.

I'm usually working on several pieces at one time, rotating my attention to each in its turn. This is a necessity because paint and other media need drying time, and a hair drier isn't always the answer. There is an added benefit: working on several at one time helps me avoid over-working any one piece. As for their importance, I don't rank any particular one above the others unless I have a deadline for a specific project looming on my horizon.

Artella: I never seem to find the TIME to make art. How do you find the time, and what tips can you offer for busy people to help them find time for creativity? What is your daily routine? Do you create art every day?

Cecilia: I create every day: artmaking comes first, and fills the morning. I use afternoons for the dull necessities of life, like grocery-shopping. While my daughter still lived here at home and I worked at an outside job to help with her college expenses, I followed the same routine. In those days I had less time for artmaking and, although I made my time-sacrifices willingly, I nevertheless felt tremendous frustration.

Since artmaking has high priority, I often have to say 'no' to good things. I watch very little TV (not to imply that TV-watching is necessarily a good thing!) I spend very little time on the phone. And so on.

Artella: Is it important to be in a good mood when you're creating?

Cecilia: It happens at times that I begin a session of artmaking in a bad mood. Losing myself in the process of artmaking almost always lifts my spirits. If it doesn't, then so be it. If I were content all the time, I would be like a (spoiled, pampered) housecat not a human being.

Artella: How do you find your "voice" in your own art journey?

Cecilia: I believe that each of us has a unique voice and that we must give ourselves permission to freely explore and experiment. Over time, exploration and experimentation allow that unique voice to develop and emerge.

Some people were told, as children, 'You can't draw' or 'You aren't doing it 'right' with the result that they've reached adulthood hamstrung, afraid to loosen up enough for exploration and experimentation. For these people I highly recommend the books The Right to Write or The Artist's Way, both by Julia Cameron. The first book addresses writing but applies to all creative endeavors.

I feel that it's vital to be true to oneself in artmaking and that when art is created with this mindset, it naturally finds buyers or at least satisfied viewers.

See Cecilia's wonderful products in The Shoppes of Artella, here.

Want more artist interviews from Artella? Take a look at our eBooks Artist Profiles Assembled and Artist Profiles Assembled, Vol 2, and look at the "Ask the Artist" column every single day in The Artella Daily Muse, our daily online creativity newspaper.

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