The Self-Taught Artist

Manage your art projects with Notion

NO Modem Sunday flowarte

One of the biggest challenges in my life is my attention deficit. Despite all my planning, I go off on a tangent and complete tasks and projects that were nowhere on my plan. They drop out of the ether, while the ones I planned for linger on.

For example, I want to do an Artist Book or Zine that talks about Spasmodic Dysphonia (my voice disorder), I spend years mulling over the best way to approach it. I make a few sketches, I talk about it non-stop (at least in my head), I become all excited about the possibility of it, and then I push it to the side. The project becomes a disgruntled lover who gets no attention from me but whose presence looms over my days.

Then one day, I decide to organize my space and come across something, it can be whatever, maybe a drawing, an old sketchbook, a page of marks and suddenly I drop everything and start working with it with no clear plan or path. I have no idea what it will become, where I’m going or what the result will be. It just pulls me forward. I keep at it until it’s done.

A zine dummy of on desk
Dummy of This Creature Does Not Sing

I’ve spent decades trying to fight this.

The projects accumulate in the back-burner along with things I want to complete because I feel a tremendous force pushing me to do them. It’s unexplainable.

A couple of days ago, while I sanded my clay figurines, I had an epiphany: I’ve been trying to mold myself to existing productivity systems. They have a strange charm. The bullet journal has the beautiful allure of a commonplace book and diary, the beauty of a personal notebook. The Get to Work Book holds the promise of so much to be done.
The Passion Planner had the illusion of accounting for each hour of the day. And so it goes.


Then it’s the physical, digital and mental space:

  • The piles of work and books
  • Drawers full of materials.
  • Blocks of unused watercolour paper.
  • 200 pens living in nooks and crannies around this room.
  • The smell of stale paint water from last week.
  • It’s the Pinterest account with all the darn distractions. The rabbit holes of infinity.
  • The articles and quotes that fire up the muse and make it dance when it should be sitting down, nudging me into project-completion land.
  • Lastly, the hard drive (three to be precise) where my past self lives in zeros and ones along with old artwork, photos, and writings. 

I went back to Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. I wrote down: “I want to be the type of person who finishes projects.” How can I do it?

Twyla Tharps book open to the page where she talks about boxes.
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

An Art Project Box Notion Template

I created this template for myself where I attempt to reproduce Twyla Tharp’s proverbial project box. (It’s the second template I build for my specific needs, you can take a look at the first one here)

I created boxes for each project. I imagine it like a warehouse where all my boxes will live, and in each, there will be treasures that I will be able to find and relate to each other.

I made a video walk-through. It’s a pay-what-you-want template.

I have three active projects, and these are the only visible ones. If I have others, I can create a box for them but keep them hidden until I want to push them to the front.

I’ve been working with this template for a while. It seems to be moving things forward!

If you try it, do let me know how you find it. You can customize it to your needs, delete properties, add views, relate databases. You know, the works!

Main screen of the art project template in Notion