Slovakian painter Tibor Nagy, in an interview with writer Jeff Sparks, made this interesting comment: "Over the years I have come to realize a couple of things. I think that the most important aspect is eliminating any obstacles that obstruct my path to seamless realization of a painting. The goal is to have a 'clear path' so that the original vision or intention would not get lost in the process."
Tibor Nagy is a phenomenal painter that blends abstraction and realism in a mix of undertones, brushwork, palette knife layers and scratches. He is a painter who clearly has found his artistic voice and the attention of fellow artists and collectors. But it's his comment above about eliminating obstacles that got me thinking.
How seriously do we work on eliminating obstacles in our lives? Do we even know what the obstacles are? I know I haven't always identified the obstacles in my way.
I've written articles about time management and the perils of procrastination. But Tibor Nagy's comment about eliminating obstacles that get in the way of his artistic vision and painting resonated with me. So, how do we create a clear path to success? How do we realize the ideal we're dreaming of? How do we reach new creative heights?
Begin with the end in mind
I'm borrowing from the late Stephen Covey, who used this concept in his best selling book Seven Habits For Highly Successful People. The reality is, if you don't know what your goal is, you'll fail. There will be countless obstacles and hardships if you don't define what success means to you.
Maybe you want to see your work in a reputable gallery. Become a New York Times best selling author. Or generate more sales of your quilts on Etsy. Whatever it is, take time to define what success means to you. Sculptor and writer Mark Edward Adams recently wrote about this in his thoughtful essay Define Your Success As An Artist.
Redesign your studio and your life
Once you have identified your goal, it's time to vanquish those obstacles. Sit down and list all the things that get in your way. For example, is your studio designed in a way that's conducive to working? You don't need a dream studio. Some people use small rooms, closets, or their garage. The key is to have materials laid out and ready to go.
Figure out what the obstacles are in your schedule and where you can carve out more time. The more obstacles you can identify and eliminate, the easier it will be to focus on your goal. For example, I resigned from a service club I had been in for many years. I hated feeling like I was disappointing people in the club, but I knew that I needed to create more time for my creative goals. Saying yes to your art often means saying no to other commitments. It's all about priorities.
Commit to a process, not a goal
It's important to have a goal, but by itself that won't lead to much. For example, lots of people have a goal to lose weight. Unfortunately, without a process, they're unlikely to succeed. Blogger James Clear is one of the best at explaining the importance of committing to a process, not a goal.
For example, ever notice all those early morning joggers? I'm sure they'd rather be in bed, but they've adopted a process. A routine. Your process might include rising early and spending an hour in the studio. Before all the interruptions of the day.
Consider using cues, too. Maybe you leave an old paint brush in the medicine cabinet to "cue" you each morning to hit the studio. Adopting a process that you do over and over, until it's a well oiled routine, will move you closer to your goal.
Enlist support to succeed
Talk to your family members about your goal(s) and enlist their support. Schedule so family time is met, but you also have time to do your art. Fellow artists and online compatriots can be helpful supporters too, so long as you don't spend more time visiting and less time creating. Some artists join painting groups and workshops, and become energized by the shared creativity and passion. Other artists work better in solitude. The key is to know yourself and figure out what's the most effective approach for you.
I had a martial arts teacher who used to say "the biggest battles you'll ever face are between your own two ears." It's easy to allow negative or self defeating thoughts to percolate. Excuses are never hard to find. Focus can easily be lost. Negativity, frustration and self doubt are no strangers to the artistic journey. When they come along and you stumble, learn to forgive yourself. Take a break, regroup and then dive back in.
I know a lot more can be added to the list, but you get the point. Tibor Nagy is at the top of his game because he's found a way to defeat obstacles and clear a path for his artistic vision to flourish. The good news is, so can you. Start by redesigning your life, committing to a process, enlisting support and forgiving yourself. Next thing you know, someone will want to interview you about your success!