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Artists Need Accountability, especially during tough times

Our move from Indiana to Maryland to care for my wife’s ill mother taught me one thing about art that I have known intellectually for some time - it’s easy to give it up when you have competing priorities.

We sold our homestead, moved to an island in the Chesapeake Bay, started a real estate business and moved our existing business a long way. (We live on Kent Island, MD)

a map of Kent Island, MD

With so many big rocks being moved simultaneously, it was easy to get distracted from art - especially when I’d packed up my supplies for the movers (and then can’t find them when I am unpacking!)

So for four months I gave it up. It was easy.

Too easy. 

man napping on a tree branch
What my creativity was doing for four months

I focused on rebuilding Art Party Unlimited in a new area, am quickly learning real estate so my fledgling company, Happy Little Homes, doesn’t fall on its face in its first year in business, and am navigating the struggles having my mother-in-law living with us long term. Karen was right there with me doing the same!

So where did painting fit into all of this? 

It didn’t.

Picture of Realtor Brian Sutton's business card
Our business is affiliated with Long & Foster Real Estate

In that four month period I thought of painting often but didn’t. There was always a reason - the usual suspects were at fault, of course.

But Karen landed a deal with a local brewery, and through their negotiations somehow I got put on the hook for doing live painting demonstrations at the brewery during farmers markets.

I might have agreed to it, or I might have been “voluntold” to do it. The details are now fuzzy and irrelevant.

The truth is I was being held accountable to get back to being a full-time artist, shrugging off the rust of four months of art inactivity, and meeting new painting friends.

And painting.

In front of people.

I quickly painted a couple of paintings to get the oil flowing in my joints like a rusted tin man breathing new life into himself. See my first painting in four month in the video below.

picture of painting

A couple of weeks later I was painting Bob Ross style live again in front of a lot of people.

Picture of Brian Sutton painting live at Cult Classic Brewery in Stevensville, MD

Picture of Brian Sutton by his easel at Cult Classic Brewery in Stevensville, MD

It was a ton of fun.

When artists get in a rut of not doing art that is precisely the time to create it.

While you, as an artist, may not be out doing this as a profession, you certainly have the same requirement to hold yourself accountable, even if only to yourself.

Or get someone else to hold you accountable - it’s probably fun for them to prod you along and encourage you to do something they know makes you feel good.

If you have stopped creating art and are feeling the pinch of loss of time to create, I encourage you to pick up your favorite medium and get back to it. Just a sketch, or a few scratches of pencil to paper - anything to get back to what you are missing.

It’s just too easy to give up art when you have so many other things going on around you. Don’t let it happen - you will regret it.

(My finished live demo is below)

Picture of Brian Sutton's "Alpine Retreat."


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