Shortly after I put an article on mini habits on the website in January, I received a note on Facebook from Dr Nic Grobler, a minister and sculptor. He said in the note that his habit of regularly setting aside mini times for his art had enabled him to stay “in production” for many years, even (and especially) while following other occupations on a full-time basis. I then sent him a few questions, which he was kind enough to answer:
CIZELLE: Nic, I would very much like to know what the minimum requirement was that you set yourself for working on your art. Was there a daily minimum time?
NIC: Sculpture has been part of my life since childhood. Creative activity is part of who I am but I had to make a few adjustments so that I was able to combine this with ministry in several congregations and with radio work, including work for “Radio Pulpit”.
If you ask what the minimum requirements were, I would have to reply that they were to remember that I had a gift which I had to use and not waste, and never to stop creating something new. For this reason I kept setting myself new goals. When I knew that I had to have artworks ready for an exhibition, I made time for this, whether it was early or late. My calling was to produce Sculpture with a Message. It was not always easy and my time was very limited, which is why I learned to use odd bits of time. When I returned from a visit or a meeting, I went to my studio where I could lose myself in my artwork for a few minutes. You can’t really set a minimum time to spend on sculpture per day because you just have to adapt to your circumstances and situation. The thing is, if it is your passion, and you enjoy what you are doing, then you have an inner drive that makes you use every available minute.
CIZELLE: How did you manage to create art in these brief “scraps of time”? Didn’t the interruptions disturb the creative flow?
NIC: You have to accept that there is no other way of doing it except at odd moments and find it motivating rather than demotivating to work in this way. You just have to get your mind right, then you will appreciate these odd moments and look forward to them. Then you will experience an interaction that is motivating for your other work. To put it in simple terms, a balance is created and I find that when I am delivering a sermon I look forward to sculpting and when I am engaged in sculpting I look forward to preaching.
When you work at odd moments one of your biggest gains is that when you have to leave off and return later you get back to your work with a new perspective. If you carry on with the same task for too long you can easily get bogged down in detail and lose sight of the bigger picture.
CIZELLE: How productive were you in your art?
NIC: Naturally I could have done a lot more as a full-time artist but it depends on whether one is an “as well person” or an “either/or person”. I am an “as well person” who flourishes by doing one thing as well as something else and not one thing or the other. The one activity stimulates the other.
CIZELLE: Did you also take time off to focus solely on your art, or did you do it all in “mini times”?
NIC: I certainly did take certain periods off to focus exclusively on my art. One reaches a stage when it is necessary to work in a focused manner and that requires more time and note that there is no need to feel guilty.
CIZELLE: What advice would you give someone who has very little time to tackle a creative project, who will only be able to work at “mini times”?
1. Take a firm decision: I am going to start NOW and then get up and do something, even if it is only for 5 minutes.
2. Start with whatever you have at your disposal and don’t wait until you have all the equipment and materials. Five loaves and two fishes were enough to feed a multitude.
3. Plan for your creative work. Look at your programme and decide where you could make time and then do it. When Marietjie and I were in a congregation where we were very busy and were beginning to lead separate lives we set aside some time on a Thursday afternoon to go and do pottery together.
4. Enjoy what you do and accept that you will have to do it mainly in mini times.
5. Read about it and look it up on the internet to see what other people are doing and enrich yourself with knowledge and new techniques.
6. Accept that your circumstances or work area impose limitations and adapt to them. You need a work area where you can simply close the door and come back later and carry on. Otherwise it will take up too much of your time if you have to clear up every time.
7. Find your niche or medium in which you can work comfortably. I found my niche market by modelling and casting in bronze instead of working with a chisel or chopping tool.
8. Decide what you want to achieve with your project and focus on that. You may simply want to do something that you enjoy. Whatever it is, put your heart into it.
You can find more information on You tube Nic Grobler sculptor videos.
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You are welcome to phone Nic at 0834501663.