I was asked how I contend with the distractions of social media and the internet. Here are a few of the things I do…
I have a specific amount of time each morning that I spend online, about 3-4 hrs, sometimes more if I have things to write. There’s no easy way to balance things, you just have to be very disciplined and form good habits. It’s important to recognize when the internet is no longer of use. When you are distractedly cycling through websites looking for stimulation, it’s time to turn it off.
Other things I do:
As soon as I feel the urge to make something, I try to go and do it. If I stay at my computer then that inspiration dies. The more little inspirations I feed, the more they grow and I get so wrapped up in art that the internet doesn’t interest me anymore.
I make a plan, ideally the night before, about what I want to accomplish each day. I always get way more done this way. It’s similar to having a deadline - it’s always easier to create when you have one.
I’ve trained myself so that I can no longer watch tv without also making art at the same time. I get bored and antsy if I try to just watch tv. I only let myself do this in the evenings, though, it’s my “fun” work time after an afternoon of “serious” work time where I am fully focused on a painting. I find this really helps me deal with stress. If I force myself to work at my easel all day, every day, I quickly become depressed and no longer see a point to making art - it becomes a job (there are far better jobs out there if that’s what I wanted to be doing!). But if I add an aspect of relaxation to working, like watching tv, then I can do it forever. I might get slightly less done in a day, but I can do this 7 days/week, as opposed to a full day of serious work followed by a day of lackadaisical melancholy or weeks of burnout after a long “serious” stretch.
Once I sit down to paint, I always think of little errands I need to run - emails, tweets, etc - but I don’t let myself do them. When it’s time to paint, everything else can wait.
"I Love You", one of my older paintings. This is available in my print sale that is happening over at http://mandytsung.bigcartel.com (click the link in my profile). Many, many thanks to those of you who’ve purchased prints already! I’m really grateful for all of your support!
"I’m giving a presentation tomorrow on the experience of African American males growing up in America."
"What’s the thesis?"
"Hundreds of interviews have been conducted, and we’ve found that not only do most African American males fail to acknowledge institutional racism, they mainly tend to blame themselves for their failures. They say things like they didn’t work hard enough, or made too many mistakes. They don’t understand that they weren’t afforded the same opportunities."
I’m not an African American man, but I think this applies to women as well. I often wonder what it would be like to have had the same opportunities as hetero white men. What would it be like to have been raised to believe in myself instead of to doubt everything that comes out of my mouth? Or to have people reward me for my work instead of criticizing how I could have done things differently? Or to not have most compliments given to me have the attached qualification of me being female. Up until recently, I didn’t know that there was any other way to be.
There seems to be a new visibility for women painters. We are finally being recognized as serious artists after centuries of not even being afforded a mention in most history books. But we are being grouped into this label of “women artists” or “women who paint women”, which is great but I’m over it. It’s true that we need this visibility as a stepping stone for moving past it, but the simple fact of its novelty and necessity demonstrates how deeply mysoginistic our culture still is. How many people go, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that painting was done by a woman?! Interesting!”? I still do this myself - which is the point made in the quoted text above. It’s like I’m building a ladder for myself and I get a new rung every time I encounter a successful female artist. White men get a complete ladder handed to them at birth. I see a gallery accepting submissions for a show about women painting women and think, “Here’s my chance!” When do men ever have to say to themselves, “Ooh finally, a show for men who paint women!” It’s safe to say this is the defacto state of (figurative) art.
So let’s have these shows especially for women, and laud the women who toil away to make a career for themselves despite the odds stacked against them. But let’s continue evolving until we don’t need to have these kinds of shows anymore. I don’t want to be forever known as a great woman artist. I want to be known as a great artist.
Spring Print Sale happens this Wed, 12pm PST. Mandytsung.bigcartel.com. This is one of the first paintings I did when I was on my way to working full-time as an artist. To be honest, at the time I wasn’t even sure this was a good painting, but it’s been one of my most popular prints over the years. Artists are really the worst judges of their own work!
So I just realized that I don’t get notifications for new messages here and found a bunch of them! I read them all and would love to respond to each of you, but I just don’t have the fortitude right now (typing is hard on my hand, which is recovering from tendinitis). So here’s a big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent me a message. I’m very grateful for all of your kind and encouraging words! I’ll try to check more often so I can respond personally to each.
Here’s a photo of my Furmaiden piece along with the special comb charm that comes with it. The piece is a three-dimensional, free-standing figure, precision laser-cut and is approximately 10” tall by 8” wide when fully assembled. Includes a separate illustrated postcard giving details of the mysterious figure’s origins. The Furmaiden is produced in a numbered, limited edition of 20. You can purchase it through @vonzos at landofzos.com.