Making small attention shifts.

I've been thinking a lot about time, focus, energy, and attention. Where do you put most of yours? Where would you like to place yours? Is there a difference? For me, there is. And I easily know where I'd prefer to put mine.

Where I put most of my attention:

  • My business
  • Email
  • Instagram
  • Climbing

Where I would like to place more of my attention:

  • Creating (actually making art, not just thinking about making art)
  • Learning
  • Real-life communities

It isn't so mysterious, my situation. It's very simple, and I am sure others must feel the same way.

 Above is a collage I've been working on this past week. Not done yet!

Above is a collage I've been working on this past week. Not done yet!

I'll admit it. I pay attention to the Internet WAY too much. Spending so much time consuming, admiring, and getting inspired by other people's work can really make me critical of my own and how it is/I am received online.

As I said before, this isn't surprising, and it's nothing special. The Internet is the new rat race. It's especially easy for artists to get caught up in it; we are idea people. And the Internet is all ideas. Visions. It's sometimes even imaginative. You can have whatever you'd like. You can be whatever you'd like. And when you close your computer and realize your life looks like none of those things, it can be hugely disappointing.

Although the idea of quitting the Internet cold turkey -- placing extreme boundaries on my daily browsing habits -- sounds oh-so effective, I know myself enough to know that it's not. For me, true changes that stick will only come from small, daily decisions and shifts.

While I'm inspired by folks like Heather Day, who spends 9 hours a day in her studio painting, I know that I can't just spend 9 hours in my studio tomorrow and expect the practice to stick. It must happen gradually. One hour here. Two hours the next day. Until it becomes a natural inclination.

That's why I've started to place "1 hour: Art" on my daily to-dos. That's why I decided to brace the teen-temps one evening this week and attend a local art lecture instead of curling up on the couch with a cider and Sex & The City. That's why I've been turning my phone on silent while I work. 

These small initiatives will snowball into larger practices. And without even realizing it, you're spending less time on Instagram drooling over someone else's life, and more time creating your own.

Here's a look at what I've been working on in my hour-long art sessions each day this week. Often these will spill over into another hour, and have me wanting to return in the evening after I've finished up other work. 

What are you working on? Do you have any attention shifts you'd like to make now?

 Above and below is a digital collage I am working on using a photo I took atop The Chief in Squamish and a scan of one of my paintings. I love all the blues, but I'm always striving to pull back and simplify. It's so easy to over-do a piece; it's harder to know when to stop.

Above and below is a digital collage I am working on using a photo I took atop The Chief in Squamish and a scan of one of my paintings. I love all the blues, but I'm always striving to pull back and simplify. It's so easy to over-do a piece; it's harder to know when to stop.

Amanda Sandlin6 Comments