View Full Version : Advice, please!!!!

07-17-2003, 02:49 PM
I'm not sure this is where I should post this but here goes..

For some reason I cannot get across to my girlfriend that when I draw or paint I need to be alone and uninterrupted. I have a drawing board set up in our bedroom ( no other place for it ) but I never use it because the bedroom door must remain open and I'm constantly distracted.

I was planning on starting a mural business so I set up a work area in the garage. I was pretty much working when everyone went to sleep so I could still make time for the family. I had to put notes up outside the garage so her son would use the front door and not go in and out of the garage while I was working. Well according to her it looks like I'm trying to keep him from getting into the house. And it bothers her that I need to be "isolated", she can't understand why people going in and out of the garage( which only takes 3 minutes, why is that a problem?) would disrupt my concentration. I'm at a complete loss. The only way I can draw or paint in any kind of solitude is if I do it away from the house.

I love her but at the same time I refuse to stifle my artistic drive. I did that for my ex-wife and it nearly destroyed me.

Has anyone else run into something like this?

07-17-2003, 03:14 PM
Welcome Akhenatan to the Artists Way Forum.

That's tough. I live by myself so isolation is not a problem. :) It sounds like you and your girlfriend have some issues.

Have you told her how much this means to you and your business ideas? If you have and she's still not supportive, maybe some other people can give you advice on how they handle a nonsupportive partner.

Good luck.

07-17-2003, 03:31 PM
Hi Dana,

It's not like she isn't supportive of what I do,( in fact she has been very supportive of my work ) but like she told me closed doors "bother" her. I don't understand why.

This has got me in a nice bind. Today I went out to the garage and I was so discouraged I just cleaned everything up and put it all away. I don't know what else to do. I just know that I can't create or concentrate when I think someone may be watching or if I get distracted by people coming in and out.

Thanks for reading this!

07-17-2003, 03:41 PM
One thing I should have asked, is it normal for an artist to want solitude to work? Am I the one who is wrong? Lord knows I've been wrong before. This wouldn't be the first time, lol.

07-17-2003, 03:50 PM
Hmm, if you're starting a mural business, people are going to watch while you work. It can be embarassing sometimes, creating art while others are around is like being caught with your clothes off but I think its part of the package for a mural artist.

I would be a little unnerved too if my boyfriend wanted to go into the garage every night to work right when I wanted to go to bed. ;) :) I don't know about your girlfriend but I would much rather my boyfriend take his private time in the garage right after work so we can have rest of the evening and afterwards together. (that is, if he lived with me) ;)

edit, we must have cross posted. I think wanting solitude is normal up to a point but I've never had a problem with people just coming in or out. Probably has to do with taking classes - people are coming in and out and staring at my work all the time.

Rose Queen
07-17-2003, 05:20 PM
There is a huge load of help for you in Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way ; I hope you will dig a copy out of the library or some used bookstore and read it, even if you do not do the program and the exercises it contains.

If you had a "normal" job and went away to an office or factory to work, your girlfriend would not insist on coming with you. Neither should she thwart your need to be alone and create. Of course you are right to need solitude to create. It is a right-brained thing and other people hinder, not help, that, no matter how much you love them.

Your girlfriend is threatened by your time alone and, while you may be able to help her figure out why, it is essentially her problem and you need to find a way not to allow her to make it your problem. Easier said than done, I know, but you need to start somewhere.

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07-17-2003, 05:50 PM
Thanks the advice everyone. The truth is I make as much time for family as possible. I only work late at night and into the morning when everyone is asleep. ( my peak times are 10:00 pm to 6:00 am) I only do it a few times a week and I just started less than a month ago( When I got laid off). I got a hefty severance check and I thought what better time to take the summer off, paint and start a mural business? I'm going to talk to her again tonight and try to resolve this because I can't take not being able to paint or create.

Thanks for listening, it helped to get it out. You guys are awesome!

07-17-2003, 05:51 PM
By the way I do own The Artists' Way. it's great and helped me through alot. I haven't read it in a few years, so I'll be doing some reading tonight.

07-18-2003, 06:32 AM
Rose and Dana both have valid points which are worth exploring. Dana has suggested that perhaps the timing may be an issue with your girl friend. Although you've said that that's not really an issue, and you may or may not be right, it's important to remember that our choices and life styles DO affect those around us in some ways and that is always something that can be worked around. Be sure that you truly understand what your girls friends issues are. She may say one thing and really mean something quite different, which brings us to Rose's point of view.

Often, when family members complain about our time spent on our art it's about time not spent with them. Art easily becomes our mistress (or master ;)). That's not at all a bad thing but in those terms it's easy to understand your loved one's jealousy. Time with your art is time NOT spent with her.

I don't think your girl friend really has a problem with closed doors as much as the fact that she is not the center of your attention at the moment. She must love you an awful lot. :) You're very fortunate in that respect.

It might be best for you to go slowly with her in order for her to get used to the idea that your passion for creativity does not mean that you've lost interest in her.

Discuss your art with her. Ask for her thoughts on your current project. Involve her in a way that makes her feel that this is a part of your lives together instead of YOUR life. She may be more enthusiastic about it than you would have imagined.

Make compromises that afford you alone time in your work space. Set times that work well for her in your artistic endeavors. Let her know that your schedule is such and such and you will be painting from this time to that time, and what would she like to do for the reat of the time?. What i'm suggesting really is that you make your art time yours but don't make her feel that she comes second to it.

You will get to a point (although i think you already have) where you will have to make a commitment to the work. There's no way to deny yourself that 'indulgence' without becoming a very unhappy man. You can not put it aside for the sake of someone else's happiness because when you're not happy you do not have the capacity to contribute to any one else's happiness. It's just not possible.

So with that in mind, i suggest you let your lady friend know that both she and your art are important parts of your life and that you have room for both.

Last but not least, help her find something to be passionate about. :)
Art and relationships can and do work.

07-18-2003, 08:43 AM
Again, thank you everyone. You all have sound advice.

We worked it out last night. Nice talk, I tried to get her to see my point and vice-versa. And discovered we both had to give a little. Everything is great now, a huge load off my shoulders.

I am very lucky that she loves me. I certainly am a blessed individual.

Thanks to each one of you for your thoughts, advice and kindness!!!!

07-18-2003, 09:22 PM
You're very welcome. I wish you continued success with this situation. :) I'll be moving this thread to the Creativity Corner. This is a common problem and i'm sure there are others who would like to discuss this issue.
We're planning on doing another TAW group in the near future so please watch the TAW forum for announcments on that!

07-18-2003, 11:43 PM

Cathy Morgan
07-19-2003, 07:27 PM
I used to have this problem; really don't know how it changed but now my partner is very helpful in respecting my work time.

Georgia O'Keeffe used to throw up if anyone saw her work in progress. So there's a pretty good precedent for needing privacy and solitude while working. Some people need it; some don't. So honor what you need.

It helps to be matter of fact about it. "This is what I need to do, and why it's important to me. It will benefit you also, by...."

It's easy to project one's own doubts and fears onto others. "I could make my art if only s/he would...and wouldn't...." It can ease things too if you ask for certain actions but not 100% "emotional support." Your partner doesn't have to LIKE everything you're doing, and certainly the kids don't either.

For several years I just posted signs outside my studio. "DO NOT DISTURB except in case of DIRE emergency." Mostly this worked pretty well, tho locking the door sometimes reinforced it. The more certain you are that it's OK to want this, to need this, and the more definite you can be that this is how it's going to be - the easier it will go.

You can always offer a choice: work at home, with time & space respected by family - or work away from home. Renting a small studio could be well worth the money. But probably if you decide you definitely will do that if that's what it takes - the space at home will suddenly, mysteriously "work out."

07-27-2003, 02:34 PM
My family has always been supportive in that they thought I should be working on my art but as a stay at home Mom I have felt like I'm always on duty for them but not for me.
Right now, with my kids home for the summer, I find I cannot spend as much time as I'd like painting. I have put my foot down
a few times to get them out of the house or(atleast on another floor of the house, to give me some time alone) Like Akenaten,
I really need to have time alone. I can tell you that I tend to be very distracted when my kids and their friends are around.
I live in a tiny house and I am always tripping over people.
I try to accept the fact that this is not the way it will always be
(one day they will be teens...oh no!) I'm just trying to deal with it as a situation which is not by any means ideal, but one I'm doing my best to deal with. They just don't get it sometimes and I really have to fight for the time alone.

Ron van den Boogaard
07-30-2003, 09:00 AM
I prefer to work in solitude most of the time. At the same time I can sometimes stand somene around. My son is always welcome and even though I tend to work in silence, I don't mind when he blasts the latest hip-hop record. We even do occasionally work together on the same piece.
Then he again he is always right about my art-work. He always knows when it is finished or not, in fact so, that when i am not sure i will call him in to give a verdict.

There is one aspect to it though. Years ago when i was illustrating I really honestly beleived I was a loner and needed to be myself all the time. What a misconception. When I joined an ad-agency I discovered I genuinely liked to work with other people as well. So we can fool ourselves into some rather strange beleifs.

best of luck

07-30-2003, 05:22 PM
Originally posted by Ron van den Boogaard

There is one aspect to it though. Years ago when i was illustrating I really honestly beleived I was a loner and needed to be myself all the time. What a misconception. When I joined an ad-agency I discovered I genuinely liked to work with other people as well. So we can fool ourselves into some rather strange beleifs.

How true, Ron! Nice to see you again. What have you been up to?

07-30-2003, 05:29 PM
I am like you in that regard, I work alone. If I wanted an audience I'd paint plain air. I dont. I dont want people to watch me to talk to me or to breath the same air as me when I paint.

I went through this with my family as well. I had to explain to them it wasnt about them It was about ME. That if they wanted to spend time alone in the washroom or reading, I didnt join them, but if that was what they wanted to spend more time with me I'd be happy to oblige.

I explained how when I paint I tap into a creative flow and talking breathing and questioning what I do breaks that flow. Others do not have this problem, I can live with that. Its not about them either.

My art is about my ability to chanel, people who write expect to be left alone why should painting be any different.

If you need quiet time you have every right to it. If other people get all suckie and demanding, they are the ones with issues.
Just dont make their issues one of yours.

Ron van den Boogaard
08-01-2003, 12:20 PM
Originally posted by DanaT

How true, Ron! Nice to see you again. What have you been up to?

Painting mainly, and lots of drawings. Should be up on the web in about two weeks. So nothing really extra-ordinary. Just my internet connection was cut-off, so I am not so much around here anymore.

08-02-2003, 02:13 AM
I think your pretty normal. A lot of great suggestions here.

My experience and how I became an independent painter in a house where other people live :)

I have been married about 28yrs and it's only been 5 years since I have claimed my independence. It was tough at first for my husband to watch a granddaughter we are raising so I could go to art class on Saturdays. At the same time my youngest daughter our granddaughter aunt was living with us too. Well Ijust put my foot down and said okay people Saturdays is my art day. That would make either my husband or my daughter responsible to watch the little one. After about 4 months they both decided that was the way it had to be and accepted it. No one was being jealous, but they were being selfish.

They got over it when I would not budge, and there were times when they wanted me to budge. Since I worked about 65 plus hours a week and made good contribution to the household, it was my rewards to rightfully claims those priviledges.

So, with a little firm stand and patience it all worked out. They have come to respect my space and time. And, they still love me even though I do not work outside the home now :).

Good luck!

Keith Russell
08-02-2003, 01:13 PM
debi-d said:
"I am like you in that regard, I work alone. If I wanted an audience I'd paint plain air."

Painting en plein aire is not the only option for those who wish to, or have to, paint in front of an audience.

I often give demonstrations that require me to paint in front of an audience. As a teacher, I had to be able to paint in front of my students, as well.

I certainly don't paint plein aire...


08-04-2003, 04:34 AM
hi Ahkenatan and friends

Here's a good compromise to minimise distractions - wear a minidisc or portable CD player, and turn up your favourite inspirational music. This way your girlfriend will be able to see what you're up to without you being overly aware of it, and if you're working plein air if someone tries to engage you in conversation just smile, point to your headphones and carry on painting. Another benefit is that if you come to associate certain music with productive creativity, just playing that music can stimulate your creativity, even when you're feeling uninspired. (and of course a cd player is a lot cheaper than building a studio extension, lol).

Another point, take regular 5-15 min rest breaks every few hours just to go give your girlfriend a hug & remind her that you care. The endorphins you'll get from sharing a loving moment will help your art, and keep her happy too. (She may even bring you a cold beer or snack if you're lucky, it sure works for me!)

good Luck