Saturday, October 27, 2012

enjoying the routine

Inspired by my friend Phyllis Lasché, who shared with me her methods of time management and goal setting, I seem to have found a way to keep myself showing up in the studio on a daily basis and also making forward progress on myriad tasks and projects associated with my art. For the past two weeks, I have put in two to three hours a day at the easel and also have worked on various other projects: a new database for cataloging my work, learning to use new materials, keeping in touch with other cold wax artists. It is a comfortable schedule, one I can see extending easily into the months to come.

It is the regular time in the studio that is at the core of this, of course. I set myself a minimum of an hour a day ("just an hour"), which is always do-able and not onerous. I've used this method before, for cello practice ("just fifteen minutes"), and I know it is purely a psychological trick, but it works for me. More importantly, I give that hour priority over other activities in the day. It has become routine to head out after breakfast and get to work. Just as the fifteen minutes at the cello usually expands to an hour, so the hour in the studio tends to expand until lunchtime.

One big advantage of consistently showing up -- in addition to the simple fact that I paint -- is that painting stays in my consciousness pretty much all the time, even when I am away from the studio. The big questions (what is abstraction? what do I want to say?) meet the practical ones (how do I reference a cliff without painting one? how do I express joy through color?) on a constant basis, and I can almost sense the wheels turning in my head even while watching a baseball game on television (not a frequent event, but the SF Giants are in the World Series!).

I also find that since I am painting frequently and regularly, I am more willing to experiment and to take risks. If I have an idea, I feel freer to follow it, perhaps because I have a sense of more time available to do so. One example is shown above. This was a completely abstract painting with five or six layers of varying color and theme. I didn't have any plans for it, and I was curious whether I could produce in cold wax a painting like one of my old favorites, "Hidden Chambers", from 2008 (an image of it is included with the first post of this blog). So I pulled out my colors and my spreaders, and had a go. I wasn't satisfied when I finished the layer this morning, though the image above looks all right. Perhaps, despite my love of the 2008 version, my vision has changed away from that moment. I don't know what is next, perhaps a layer partially obscuring this one. But because I know I will be out in the studio, working, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, the tension is diffused and I feel free to explore additional possibilities. There is time.

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