The Sustainable Artist - Starting to Stuck to Sustainability

If there is one thing our 12 acre organic lemon and avocado grove has taught us about farming during seasons of drought and freezing cold, creating sustainability is a challenging task.

Farming, like art making, is not for the faint of heart. Last year during a summer heat wave, the temperature reached a scorching 117 degrees Fahrenheit in nearby Temecula. The tender, small avocado buds withered, resulting in a complete loss in over 75% of the farms. 

During the summer heat, I often cringe when opening our Valley Center water bill. To keep our trees alive (i.e. creating sustainability), we need to keep laying down the water to give our trees a deep soak. Even it if means coughing up $5,000-$7,000 a month in bills!

Throw in Japanese fruit flies. Root-chewing rodents. Freezing cold (also leads to fruit drop). High winds from storms leading to windfall fruit. Creating a healthy, sustainable farm is a challenging undertaking, but when done repeatedly over time, it's all worth the effort.

All of our fruit profits sustain our ministry to artists at The Grove. We don't want to see you just survive as an artist. Our passion is to see you thrive.

A sustainable artist is not one who is simply maintaining, but one who is thriving. A sustainable artist can face the heat, cold, and environmental challenges of every season.

A sustainable artist is one who consistently produces their art and who does everything in his or her power to constantly improve their craft. 

Whether you are just starting a new project or you find yourself stuck in a creative challenge, moving towards sustainability is what will lead you to the fruit of completed art work and new opportunities.

At The Grove, we have found three essential dimensions of life need to be present for artists to create sustainability with their life and art. They are as essential as air, sun and water for an artist to produce high-quality, lasting, creative fruit.

  1. The Life of the Heart - "Above else, guard your heart for from it flows the springs of life." (Prov. 3:23) 

    Guard your heart for from it also flows your art. 

    By paying attention to your heart, you discover what gives you life and what doesn't. For the artists we meet with who have trouble starting or getting stuck, it's usually never about the art, but something going on in their heart. With grace, truth and compassion, we explore why they have trouble starting or why they keep getting stuck. We offer a balance of challenge and support to get them moving.

    When we live disconnected from God and our hearts, it's impossible to create a life of joy, peace and hope to sustain us. Let alone our art.

    Each one of our Grove Getaway retreats and Gatherings focus on matters of the heart to help you create the sustainable creative life you desire.

  2. The Life of Community - You and I were not made to go it alone. We are invited into the life of the Trinity in relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    As a writer, I spend many days alone in front of the computer. Many years ago, I spent seven years in chronic pain with my wrists until I finally figured out I was not meant to live a solitary creative existence. I was made for community.

    Gratefully, my life is now a healthier balance of creative community with friends and co-workers, writing, film projects and the ministry of The Grove. 

    Do you have a creative community who breathes life into you and your art? What people are you pouring into like a fresh spring of life-giving water? Community helps create sustainability.

  3.  The Life of Craft - There is power in producing really good art. Powerful, thought-provoking art influences our culture for the good...and not so good.

    What is our WHY at The Grove and how is it related to craft? Our WHY is because artists influence everything. What you create influences the world around you.

    If we are clear in our purpose and vision of why we create, then we must pay attention to the importance and life of our craft. 

    Sustainable artists take risks, continually pushing the quality of their craft. Bad art. Unreflective art. Hurried, rushed art. All are like sickly, unhealthy avocable trees. Simply not sustainable. Producing no good fruit for anyone.

    By paying attention to your heart, to your community and your craft will help shape the sustainable, creative life you desire.

    I'd love your comments and thoughts below...


    If you want a greater life of the heart, more artistic community, and practical artistic coaching to help you with your craft, it's not too late to apply to the Cultivated Artist Experience. This dynamic one-year program will help you become a successful, sustainable artist. Our first retreat is coming up this October 25-28. We have several scholarships available, so it's not too late to apply today.