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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008
  managing time
After my last post in which I declared my intention to finish a painting a week, Diane McGregor emailed to ask, OK, but how? She suggested a blog post on the topic, and since I've actually been working at nearly this pace for about six months now, I guess I can offer some tips. (Though I fear this may be a bit boring.)

First, an observation about how it feels to work at a faster and more intense pace. On a good day, I can feel really positive effects--I'm more efficient, less distracted, more focused, more able to know which color or technique I need to use. Better creative flow, for longer periods of time. As near as I can tell, this is a direct result of practice and producing a lot of work. Although I sometimes feel burned out, it hasn't been a huge problem--nothing a day or two away from the paint won't cure.

My work is very time intensive, though, so I don't want to give the picture that I'm just whizzing along. Each panel in my multiple panel work has layer upon layer of paint, and every painting is the result of many different panel arrangements tried and rejected. Given this, the following tips are things that I've found help me be most productive:

Having lots of stuff going at once: for me that means piles of panels in various stages of completion. When I come to a stopping point on one, I can move onto the next. When I'm really under pressure, my mantra is, keep moving. Every painting needs time to be contemplated and analyzed--but I think most of us can sense when that is productive and when it is going nowhere.

Art supply considerations
: I try to keep plenty of everything on hand that I normally use, and I treat myself often to different tools and colors of paint...I find it very energizing to have new things to play with. Also, In my work, pre-gessoed panels (I use Ampersand gessobord) save huge amounts of time in that they are ready to use after removing the wrapping, and Dorlands Wax Medium speeds up drying time of the oil paint.

Logistics of dealing with finished work
: I used to spend a lot of time photographing my work, and when I had to package and ship something out it seemed like a fresh problem every time. Mostly because I do all of these things more frequently now, I have my routines in place and they take little time or thought. I take almost everything to Pak Mail for packaging, and they allow me to ship from there using my own personal DHL account (this is a money-saver...I drop off the printed waybill with the work.)

Prioritize
: I'm sure this one is obvious. To keep my studio time as a top priority, I schedule whatever appointments, errands, meetings etc. I can after 3pm, which gives me most of the day to work before having to leave home. Also, if I'm expecting an important call, I take my phone to the studio, but otherwise I usually let the answering machine take over. Email works well for keeping up with most of my friends and family--I can do it when I'm taking a break anyway.

Pacing
; During my studio day, I tend to work in about 2-hour stretches, broken up by meals, email, walking with the dog, blogging (!) and those ever-helpful caffeine breaks. This is a good pace for me, and I can put in 6-8 hours of studio work a day.

So that's about it from my perspective...everybody has their own issues and methods I'm sure. Comments and further tips appreciated!
 
Comments:
Thanks so much Rebecca for all the great info! It's inspiring, and I'm sure it won't be boring to your other readers.
A question: What do you do when you're having a bad day, you're tired, or you're just not in the flow? Do you just force yourself to keep going? How does that affect the work?
A tip: I haven't been able to get 6-8 hrs in the studio before now, because I've been working with natural light only and during the winter months my time was always cut short. I recently installed natural spectrum florescent lights and that's made all the difference.
 
Oh yes, I agree about the lights--I bought some this fall and what a difference!

As for your question...lately, at least, I usually try to work through it. By taking a longer than usual break, a nap, a walk, or looking at art books or whatever--often something shifts inside and I get back into it.

I suspect most bad studio days are due to resistance of some kind. Feeling bored or frustrated about the work, and sometimes you just need to shake things up a little. For example I can get a lot of energy from painting over and completely changing something, then I can see that was really a block in my way.

But sometimes I do just quit for the day. I guess it's a matter of recognizing true fatigue and burn out as opposed to avoidance behavior. Not that I am any expert at telling the difference! It's hindsight as much as anything.
 
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