Showing Up

Showing Up

I recently posted a photograph of an art piece I’ve been working on in the studio on my Instagram feed (@norahlevineart ).  In that post I commented on the concept of showing up.

I’ve been thinking about what “showing up” for myself means as an artist. Here are some examples:

Gaze 40"x40" 2017  Longhorn with blues and browns. Bees wax, resin, pigments on birch panel.

Gaze 40"x40" 2017

Longhorn with blues and browns. Bees wax, resin, pigments on birch panel.

Literally Showing Up

Excuses aside, I’ve been doing everything I can to make the decision to show up for myself. As a freelance artist and photographer, I am required to be self-motivated and make decisions everyday about how to best spend my time. Within each day I have about a million and one choices about what to do next. Billing, marketing, social media, networking, editing, the list goes on. The freedom of being a freelancer is priceless, but with freedom comes responsibility, right?

Literally showing up means saying “no” to lots of other things that take my attention and saying “yes” to just being in the studio and showing up for my art. Often times showing up is the hardest part and once I get rolling in the studio, there is much more ease. Even if I don’t end up creating anything incredible, I feel good knowing I showed up and put in some time.

Showing Up for Future Me

You may have noticed (eh hem) that I started this Creative Journey blog a LONG time ago and kind of dropped the ball on keeping up with it. I feel like I have had a good excuse, part of which that I was asked to create larger-scale art pieces for display and sale in a gorgeous restaurant (Radish & Rye) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Before creating the pieces for this purpose I had made just a couple of pieces larger than 10”x10.”  Being offered an opportunity to create work larger than I felt at the time I was “ready” to make felt overwhelming but also exciting. I wanted to step into this challenge and so I made the decision to show up for the artist I wanted to be–the future me.

This project took a lot of my time and energy for a bit of time. Working larger brought on many new challenges, but also some new creative freedom. I loved the physicality of working larger. Taking up space and spreading out felt good I had a lovely reception in June of this year at the restaurant and felt extremely fulfilled. I’m feeling grateful to have sold several pieces. I really feel like showing up for the “future me” was a big part of this success.

Standing Up for Myself

I’m learning that sometimes the “power-through Norah” needs to be told to take a seat.

Part of me showing and showing up for myself means giving myself a break when I truly need it. Creativity can’t be turned on and off like a light. Of course there are times wherein showing up even when I don’t feel like it can be very effective, but there are other times when showing up means stepping back. Spending time outdoors, practicing yoga, or spending time with friends can often help me recharge. Standing up for myself means taking care of how I spend my time creating, but it also means standing up for when I need to back off.

What are some of the ways you choose to show up for yourself?


I hear voices.

For the last few years I have started to listen to “voices” that began years ago as sweet, encouraging whispers saying, “pick up a paintbrush and make something!” Lately, these voices have transitioned from whispers into shouts with the occasional clobber on the back of the head. 

I can’t ignore these voices anymore.
My head is starting to hurt.

I am a professional portrait photographer, author, photo educator who has been working in the photography field for over 13 years. I can’t imagine my life without photography. I love creating imagery and I love teaching others about it. And…over the last few years I have felt like there has been something missing.

I needed to start working with my hands again to create. I want to embrace the idea of living creatively and as an artist–whatever that looks like for me.

I started making art a priority by creating and spending time in my small home-based art studio a few years ago with encaustic painting and photography. I have participated in workshops and classes and continue to be inspired by fellow artists. I have had some incredible encouraging feedback to my artwork which has been accepted into juried exhibits and even sold in stores and online. I will make this work regardless of my response, but I’d be lying if I said it weren’t rewarding to have positive feedback.

Making the decision to dedicate time, energy, taking risk in creating and sharing art may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve discovered that for me, it’s totally a big deal. I am embarking on a creative journey different than what I have pursued for many years, one that I’ve decided to write about as I experience it. 

I’m scared…and excited. I keep fighting with myself about the validity of participating in this practice. I have lots of questions, lots of fears and issues to work though. My hope is that one or two of you could travel on this journey with me. Maybe we can learn together?

The most important thing about taking the time to write this journal is that it is honest and that I allow myself to be vulnerable. My writings will share my fears and failures as well as triumphs, big or small. This space will not be another thing on my “to do” list but actually play a supportive role in my creative process and hopefully yours as well. 

I will be sharing, at minimum, twice a month. I guarantee that my grammar will not be perfect and my writing will be less than stellar, but I will show up for it.

Right now I am curious, so curious, about where this path will take us. 

What do your “voices” say to you?

With love,

Animal Collection #1 — Version 1/25

Animal Collection #1 — Version 1/25





Making Art a Habit

One hour, everyday. No excuses.

My challenge is to commit to spending time in my studio making art (organizing and prepping doesn’t count) for just one hour a day. I’ve got to say that after more than halfway into my challenge it has made a huge difference. 


I’m an artist and have been for many years, with a focus on photography. I love creating images with my camera and have worked very hard to build and sustain my business. And in addition to my photography, painting is also an important part of my life. But making that time for fine art practice has been a struggle for me–big time. 

I’ve found for the last few years, that even though I have been making strides to make fine art more of a priority in my life, I haven’t made it a habit. I tend to treat it like dessert; if I have room for it, if I feel like I “deserve it” I’ll gift some studio time to myself. I discovered that this approach didn’t work for me. Something always came up–a new client inquiry, just a little more editing and retouching, a sales meeting, a photo shoot, laundry, marketing opportunities–something, any box that needed to be checked before it was “ok” for my art practice.

Alright, I’ll try something else, I thought. I’ll set up my schedule ahead of time, with a few hours blocked out on my calendar, a couple of times a week. Then for sure I’ll be able to focus on making art.


I figured out a way to sabotage that too. I can get into deep emotional insights on why this block scheduling didn’t work (or hasn’t worked just yet) but the short story is, it just didn’t. I let anything and everything fill that time slot. 

I needed to build a new habit–the habit of making art. 

So my coach (I have a lovely creative and business coach that has been such a tremendous support to me) and I decided I’d try an hour a day for thirty days. I could begin my day with an idea in mind about when I’d put my time in. The hour could fit in at any time during the day, as long as I fit it in. I could spend more than an hour in my studio but the challenge was to do it every day. If I were traveling, I wouldn’t be able to put my time in, but otherwise, my hour was a top-level priority.

Sure, I’ve missed a day, maybe two due to illness, but otherwise, this art practice is becoming part of my daily routine, a new habit. I’ve declared this challenge to my friends and loved ones so they hold me accountable, which helps me a lot. 

Maybe you have no issues spending time on your art practice–great for you! But perhaps you’ve experienced something similar to me, wherein you know you want to make art but can’t quite turn it into your reality. I am constantly trying to figure out how I can choose to step into what fulfills me on a daily basis rather than waiting for the perfect time when all of my other boxes are checked. It’s hard, but it’s possible. We’ll see how the next couple of weeks go!

What tactics have you found help you make the time for your art practice?