My time has been extremely challenged over the last few weeks (the reason I haven’t been posting here very often lately and have missed so many YWA events). There was Sierra Art Trails (you’re all familiar with the time demands both before, during and after that event), then the removal of an oak tree that fell on my pump house, the repair and re-roofing of that pump house (it’s old and ugly, but obviously of sturdy enough stuff not to have withstood being flattened), before the first rainstorm of the season hit, a wonderful surprise visit from my oldest son and grandson (they live in Sebastopol) and then the arrival of a painting I’d sold in the past, now dry and back for varnishing.
Still during this period of time, several friends remarked on the volume of my painting output. How do I do it? Well, I learned years ago, while still an art student, that painting only when the mood strikes is for amateurs. If I wanted to paint like a professional I would need to work like a professional. Salvador Dalí said,”No masterpiece was ever painted by a lazy artist.” I needed to paint even when I didn’t feel like painting, if I was ever going to paint a masterpiece.
I used to worry that if I wasn’t in the proper mood, I wouldn’t be creating my best work. A creative professional much older and experienced than I, whom I worked with at NBC, Lou Dewitt, once defined a professional for me, “An amateur performs at 100% about 5% of the time. One day they perform at 50%, another 75%, others 10%, etc, but the professional performs at 90% 90% of the time.” I had to stop worrying about making sure I was in the best frame of mind (i.e. mood), every time I sat down to paint and, instead, just make sure I painted, if I wanted to become a professional.
So here’s my secret for consistently producing a respectable volume of artwork: set up a specific time to work each day, the same time and the same length of time and stick to it. Treat it like any other job, start on time and finish on time and use the time allotted productively, as if the boss were looking over your shoulder. Mine is 4pm – 8pm, Monday – Friday (too many chores for me to be able to paint on the weekends). Pick a time of day, when you can get away, unbothered by yourself. Make sure your family is in on the plan, so they don’t expect anything from you during this designated period. Ignore the phone during this period, let voice mail pick up the calls and return calls outside of your designated creation time.
Sure, emergencies come up, when I have to forego my painting on this day or that, but I don’t beat myself up over it, anymore than I did when I had to miss a day working for someone else.
I guarantee your production will go up and you’ll still get all the other things on your list completed. As far as being in the painting mood goes, you’ll find that working at the easel when you don’t feel like it is a catalyst for putting you IN a creative mood (another secret).