I’m working hard to establish the habit of spending more studio time every day.
With more time painting, I am pleased to have finished a work that has been
in-progress for almost a year. I am fascinated by the network of small tree branches that create a dark lace against the lighter sky and how tree trunks in the distance fade to white when it snows. I repainted this panel three times and am now calling this version of the idea done. As I put away my notes and reference photos and enjoy the snowy landscape outside my window, I believe there are more paintings to come on this topic.
Naked Stick Blues
In energy level, I feel like I am poised between generations. My mother sees me as a bundle of energy, but compared to the young fellow in my project group in my current college class, I am working hard just to keep up. The pace of life can be stressfully rapid…but we have some choices. I stay as organized as I can, try to deal with issues, errands, and bills as they arise. But for my mental well-being, I skip what I can. I don’t read all the news, I turn off the T.V., I delete many emails unread, and I avoid any repetitious housework that does not create a major health threat to omit. I do this to reserve time for restorative moments of “me time”, to exercise, to ponder, and to pursue my art.
Here’s a photo I took last weekend of some “me time” I spent wandering around the Winterfest in our small town. Our family sponsored the ice sculpture that is in front of me.
We all lead busy lives. I hesitate to say, “I’ve been busy.”, as a reason for anything I don’t get done. A principal at a school where I taught told me that the first thing you do may be the only thing you get done in the class period. I have found that wisdom to be very true. I’ve moved taking care of myself to my top priority. The “eat-a-good-breakfast” is a first thing I can do every day. On Saturdays or other days I don’t have to be at work early, “going-to-the-gym” is right after “eat-a-good-breakfast”. I figure I won’t have the good health and energy to do the next things on my day’s list if I don’t take care of my body.
My fifteen-minutes-a-day-strategy is working. I feel in touch with my creative side and I’ve finished two small pieces that were begun over five years ago. I have faithfully recorded my time, discovering that I usually work 20 to 30 minutes when I set a fifteen minute requirement for myself. A spiral bound classroom style notebook is proving to be more practical than the computer desktop document for recording working time. I can make an entry even if the computer is off for the night, and the papers don’t get missplaced as they might with loose sheets. I’ve read that it takes 21 days of daily repetition to develop a habit. That makes me only two weeks away from being on autopilot remembering to record time spent on my art projects.
There is a beautiful snowfall tonight, the wet stuff that sticks to every twig. Now that we are snug at home for the weekend, instead of driving in it, I can enjoy it. I hope to get some pictures tomorrow or Sunday of both the snow and my recently finished artworks..
My time in the studio is being neglected because of my commitment to my college coursework. I’m going to revert to the fifteen-minutes-a-day strategy. I first heard this idea from a fellow quilter who suffered from carpal tunnel pain. Her doctor had ordered her to work no more than 15 minutes a day on her quilting. As she proudly showed off her finished work, she said she had amazed herself by being able to complete it. So today is day one…the time to begin is right now. I have 35 minutes until I should be in bed and fifteen minutes of that time will be in my studio. I’ll try to move my 15 minute stint to a morning slot after today, because that is the time of day that I am most alert and productive. I’m writing my times and what project I’m working on in a notebook that will be my time clock. I’ll keep you posted about my progress.
I started my courses in Digital Media Technology this week. I now have to rethink my schedule. I have a limited amount of time and energy to allocate to activities in my life. By recording time on my current project, I have learned I can fit in more art time than I expected, even during the busy holiday season, because I chose to use every opportunity. That meant doing art before breakfast and instead of doing the dinner dishes, skipping a drive to the store, and working while my husband drove the car on our errands, and sometimes, sewing or painting instead of sleeping. I’ve modified one goal — not given it up, but delayed it — to concentrate on the immediate task of doing well in my classes. I’ll go as a spectator only to the Art at the Arnold event in Columbus, Ohio in March. I’ve chosen to scout out the event to consider participating next year instead of attempting participation this year and possibly missing a class session. I am continuing my prior commitment to develop my studio, planning to work on the project in the little chunks of time because that strategy has enabled me to finish my current project.
A phrase often comes to mind as I am working on a project: “I haven’t messed it up yet”. It is the recognition that a work often goes through a difficult stage before it is finished. Even if I do thumbnail sketches, color tests, and an actual size cartoon before I work on the final version of a project, there are adjustments and modifications to make as the work develops. The best way to evaluate what to do next on a work-in-progress is to prop the piece up across the room or pin it to a design wall, take a break to do something else for a while, then return to view the work as if it is the first time you have seen it. I always end my workday doing this so I can start my next session with minimal time needed to get back in the zone.