It's tempting isn't it? To imagine that once you've done that incredible course, bought some enticing new paint or got a REAL studio, your art will be everything you've dreamed of...
But will it?
"...art is about exploring our condition here on this planet, asking questions about life, and to travel is the same thing. To travel is to be curious about where the road goes and what one might discover."
Today I share snippets of two experiences of making art on the move - mine and those of travelling botanical illustrator, Jess Shepherd.
I hope these experiences will change your perspective on what's essential for making your art, as powerfully as they have changed ours.
The question of space...
Jess: I certainly find it difficult adapting to new spaces, especially in how I'm able to arrange things around me and cope with new noises and climates.
However, I like the challenge of having to adapt.
I feel the release of expectations on myself and on my work so I become more fluid and willing to take risks on paper.
When I was in the jungle everything I painted/drew was in the moment and became less precious. I liked that, but I also hated it.
Me: I waited years to have a studio of my own. And then I gave it up to return to a semi-nomadic life.
It was scary.
Would I still continue to make art without my beloved art studio?
Would my carefully-cultivated routine of (almost) daily art-making stand up in the face of new and unfamiliar environments?
Even if I felt motivated to make art, would I cope with just a small table to work on after having an entire floor at my disposal?
Funny isn't it how our biggest fears often turn out to be completely unfounded?
My regular creative practice is much more solidly-established than I gave myself credit for.
Once we got settled into our temporary home, I got straight back on my creative horse and clipped along at a nice speed.
I set up my worktable in the living room right opposite the sofa. It just felt right there somehow.
Rather than being inhibiting to my creativity usually done behind closed doors, this arrangement proved to be stimulating. I see my work all the time so I can't ignore it!
The subconscious impact of my surroundings never ceases to surprise me. My new environment found its way into my work as it always does.
But to be honest, working so small does drive me a bit crazy.
Yet if necessity is the mother of invention, then limitation is surely the father of creativity?
That's why my future plans include pieces that fold out from a small footprint to a large wall-hanging size. Lightweight and easy to ship to a storage place or to a client.
CJ: I'm not exactly a pack-rat but a mixed-media artist needs her media! How much of all those shelves and racks into could I feasibly fit into a few small boxes? What should I choose?
Turns out my 'must have' equipment list is not half as big as I thought. (Although my addiction to matt medium is more serious than I imagined!)
Apart from this, what I need are
I also like to take:
Jess: I take the minimum.
My watercolour paints (my favourite pans only).
All my brushes, pencils, rubbers, a camera and chargers.
1. Travelling workspace seen from the bed of Jess Shepherd!
2. Climbing plants (Hedera sp., Lonicera sp., Passiflora caerulea and Phaseolus sp.) © J.R.Shepherd 2011. Watercolour on Paper, 42cm x 29.7cm.
3. London Plane Tree (Platanus × acerifolia) © J.R.Shepherd 2015. Watercolour on paper, 76cm x 56cm
Let there be light...
Jess: I pack my blue light lamp as back up in case where I'm going the lighting is bad or tungsten based.
For me, it is the difference in light that affects my work the most. The light changes from country to country and from sea to city to field. This inevitably effects the end product.
In the UK my work I feel that my work is softer, and even softer still in polluted cities.
CJ: This time my IKEA standard lamp helped enormously. It can be unscrewed into three pieces for transportation. I might consider a second.
But lighting for photographing my work is a whole different ball game. One I've been needing to get to grips with for a while. I've got a portable studio lighting kit on my Amazon wish list. It's pretty inexpensive given the potential benefits.
CJ: I need a lightweight, folding worktable at least while I'm travelling overland. I put a drawing board on top of it.
Temporarily I can get away with the aluminium picnic table that's always in our van but it's going to make picnics a tad tricky.
I also need a small, lightweight guillotine. And something in which to store large sheets of paper and sketchbooks. Probably one of those enormous portfolios that I've had and got rid of multiple times in my life already.
Jess: I source paper on site, as well as my feathers. I have a small fold-away easel which I take with me when on the move...
CJ: I could save some space by buying some of my books as digital versions for my iPad - but which and how many?
Jess: I have a Google nexus. I visit as many galleries as possible and museums as reference material.
And it all packs up in...
CJ: My search for a suitable-sized suitcase or bag to pack the bulk of my kit in continues. I expect I'll find it when I stop looking for it.
Jess: Large rucksack and A1 portfolio. Thinking of getting some wheels for the folio.
What if the success of our creative work doesn't really depend on having the right materials, the right environment or the right light?
And what if playing with those parameters could help us grow as artists?
You can see from mine and Jess's experience that making art away from our studio or usual workspace can open up as many possibilities as it closes down.
More than finding solutions to logistical problems, it's about changing the questions we ask.
What questions might you ask about the relationship between the equipment and materials you own (or covet!) and the art you make?
"Art, for me is also gospel and what better way to spread it about than to take it to places with you?!"
If you need help establishing or resuming a regular creative practice - whether at home or on the move - join me for the Daily Creative Practice habit on CoachMe.