Motivation – What Gets Me Going & Keeps Me Going

Motivation – That Which Keeps Me Working.

Hi!  I have been wondering how personal motivation contributes to overcoming artist block.   Put another way, I would like to examine what motivates me and keeps me plugging away at my art.  By looking at what motivates me, both positive and not so positive, I might learn something about making art and life in general.


I was thinking  about how to tackle this idea of motivation.  During a little brainstorming session, I asked myself “what gets you out of bed in the morning?”  Perhaps not such a good question after all since the first thing that popped into my brain was “coffee”…and then maybe some more coffee.

Motivation; Study: Egg Not Fried
One motivation – learning something new to me. “Study, Egg Not Fried” done in acrylic during Gabriel M. Lipper’s still life class.

List of Motivators.

Pulling back from my personal narrative for a moment, I started wondering what might be some things to motivate people to make art and be “artists”.  Here’s a few of the ideas:

  • Money… as in income, award or the joy when someone purchases our work.
  • Prestige and fame; this can be local or on the big scale!
  • “Talent” – being good at something.
  • Discovery – examining the world around us.
  • Because we love art so much we need to try it ourselves.  In other words, learning something new.
  • Oh, and because a parent or parents were artists.
  • Maybe we have art materials and wanted to play in order to see what will happen.
  • To maybe “touch the gods” – that is to say that we begin to understand the Masters of art by experience making art ourselves.
  • The process of putting paint on canvas, engaging oneself in the act of drawing and painting is deeply satisfying.
  • And, then on the negative side
    • If not now, when?
    • What will I feel like if I never get around to the business of drawing and painting?

Motivation Defined.

Come to think about it, how do we define “motivation”?  In my mind, I’m talking about the inner, personal reason(s) to do something.  I checked the on-line Webster’s dictionary and it said pretty much the same thing; its about the reasons we are caused to act.

All of the reasons I gave above have influenced my motivation to draw and paint at some time or other.  As circumstances change and evolve, motivations change.

Current Motivators.

So, what is my current motivation to draw and paint?

  • If not now, then when?
  • Understanding and discovery.
  • Fun; that is to say being in the groove and focusing on the act of drawing or painting.
  • Mastery.  I really want to be “good”, or improve.

I came to the realization that this is what motivates me today indirectly.  It was while looking at Diego Velasquez’ portrait painting, Juan de Pareja, that the light went on.  There is so much to learn and experience in this world of drawing and painting.  I have just begun to scratch the surface and I want to learn more!

Motivation. Study, Asparagus
“Study, Asparagus”; Acrylic. Another study done in Gabriel Lipper’s class.

About the Paintings.

Local artist Gabriel Mark Lipper gives mini workshops at Enclave Studios and I jumped at the chance to take one.  It is a still life class that he titled “Classical Drawing, Vicious Painting”.  The title alludes to the painting fast and furious approach to still life painting. Put another way, “direct painting” – or lay the paint down and move on.

My usual mode of painting is layer upon layer; more of a sneak attack that takes a LONG time.  Its been a fun and interesting challenge to try to paint more directly.  I am definitely out of my comfort zone.  But the class fits the personal motivation of learning something new and challenging.

What Next?  Goals?

NPR had an article about a writing assignment that changes lives.  It talked about writing down what motivates you (me) and linking it to goals.  The article sites research that shows that this can be a powerful method for achieving personal goals, etc.

So, I’m thinking, the logical next step for me is to work on updating my goals.

How About You?

Please feel free to share your thoughts on what motivates you and how you link it to your goals.  Thanks!