• Nikki Dee

How to Break Up With Your Artwork

It's always hard to say good-bye. I would argue that most creators and makers have a stack, digital folder or drawer full of inspiration and ideas. That's okay! But what do you do with the stacks of half finished art, sketchbooks with odd notes or tiny doodles, gigabytes of unfinished designs, and the unfired pots you meant to finish?

One of my personal art beliefs is that as creators, we must understand that we are also destroyers. That may sound a bit extreme, (I'll get into a more fleshed out explanation of how it applies in a seperate blog), but one of the core concepts is letting things go.

If we kept creating in our spaces and never gave anything away, never sold anything, never trashed anything- we wouldn't have space for new, fresh ideas to enter in our lives. We would be overwhelmingly surrounded. We have to let go of our art. Most artists, writers and makers even struggle with the concept of knowing when a piece is done- or when we are done with it.

So let's try a little example. Grab one of your pieces and we can walk through the process together:

  1. Ask yourself- is this piece finished? Completely finished, signed, dated and ready to display, gift, or sell? Great! If you have any hesitation, the piece is probably not done. Move on to the next step.

  2. Ask yourself- what is the strongest emotion you feel when looking at this piece? Are you proud, excited, or happy? Great! It sounds like this piece still belongs in your "to-do" pile. Or perhaps you are feeling stressed, guilty, or confused about it. Guilt take many forms like, "I really need to redo this one" or "I just don't know what to do next" or "I don't want to ruin it this one part I like." If this piece has been sitting around for quite some time and still elicits these negative feelings- why keep it around? It is causing you stress and will continue to do so. It's time to let this piece go. Move on to the next step.

  3. Ask yourself- what part of it does make you want to keep it? This is VITAL! We keep these pieces for a reason. Is it who you were making it for? You might actually be concerned you will disappoint someone, which means you need to talk to them. Is the subject something you care deeply for? Make a mental note that this subject needs to be explored more. Is there a part of it that did turn out really well, but the rest is lack-luster? This is the important part to capture. Move on to the next step.

  4. Take a photo. Capture only the part that does bring you the positive feelings (not all art is "pretty or "happy", but you can feel happy about how the piece looks). Is it just the wing of a bird? Only capture that. Is it your color choice? Take a close up of an area that has those colors, but any other parts aren't visible. Be choosy and know that's okay. This is the mature way of breaking up with something, just like a person. It's okay to know someone isn't good for you in the long run, but it's mature to acknowledge that they did have some good traits that you want to look for in a future mate.

  5. This is optional, depending on how tech-friendly you are. I like to move the photos immediately to my computer and make a folder for them. Maybe you want to call it "inspiration" or perhaps you want to date it "2000-2010" so you can track how your art has grown over the years. And perhaps, like me, a silly piece of shiny cardboard with some nail polish test strips will inspire a whole blog post about moving on from art pieces (see the image with this blog). Then you can share your wisdom with your art friends and followers, too!

I know it can be hard, but please keep art flowing out of your life by sharing, gifting, selling or sometimes knowing you have grown and letting it go. It will help you make space for learning, expanding, freeing up some shelves and opening up to new possibilities.

If you would like to see more art flowing into your social media feed, I'd love to be your friend! You can find my art on Instagram or Facebook @NDeeMillerArt, and my digital art on Instagram @LimeyJadeGraphics.

As always, thank you for reading and if this post as been meaningful or useful or even just entertaining, please give the little heart on this page a click and let me know in the comment area below.

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