Friday, November 20, 2009

The Rhythm of the Art Life

When I typed for lawyers, my day was mapped out for me.  Half an hour to and from, an hour for lunch and caged in a cube in between just doing as I was told.  The little time I had at home was pretty much taken up with chores and flopping exhausted on the couch.    While my art is now my fulltime "job", utilizing the time efficiently has been a struggle for me.  As any self promoting artist knows, the marketing end is very time consuming.  And I am learning how to make my art a small business, so I must devote time to that, as well.  Here's some things I've learned: 
  • I do my best art with a fresh eye.  Two hours at a stretch is the max for me.  I've been hard on myself for not spending more time at a stretch, til I realized that quantity at one sitting does not make quality.
  • I like media that can be stopped and restarted.  Colored pencils are so easy for this.  Also oil based printing inks.  I don't like the media dictating when I can work and when I can't and that's my main complaint about oils. 
  • I need to get away.  A lot.  Now that sounds crazy, I love making art!  But shorter intervals broken up by doing something else really makes me more efficient.  In the beginning, I did all my housechores, walked Otto, got cleaned up and did my emailing and blogging BEFORE I did my art.  I cleared the decks.  I have learned that doesn't work for me.  Better for me to draw for an hour, then take a shower and walk Otto, then draw for an hour and go to the bank and library, draw for an hour and go dig up the dahlias.
  • Online is good.  I actually like to be online when I work.  So I take little mini breaks while I work to respond to a post, check facebook, tweet, etc.  So much of what I do online is art related and it keeps me pumped and inspired.
  • Online is bad.  Talking politics, critiquing, responding to trolls accomplishes nothing for me and hours can go by.  Eliminating.
  • Online is fun.  I love my online art and animal friends and enjoy keeping up with what they are doing, guilt-free.  I'm outgoing and friendly by nature, and the social aspect of "work" is the only thing I miss.  I get that coffebreak type camaraderie with colleagues whenever I feel like it.  Fun to talk shop.
  • Online combines fun with marketing.  Twitter has been very good to me!
  • Housework can be done half asleep.  Yes, it is true.  Don't have to think too hard, so saving those chores for when I'm beat works well!
  • Rome wasn't built in a day.  I do a little marketing every day.  I'm seeing good results.  And I'm looking with a hard eye what works and what doesn't.
  • Business before pleasure.  I'm taking the time to learn how to run this as a real business.  Sounds so not artsy, right?  But it is and I'm taking advantage of opportunities to learn how to do it.  Recordkeeping is not my strong point but I am learning how to do it properly.
  • Today and tomorrow influence each other.  What I do with each day is influenced by what's on my calendar down the road.  Silly to spend time marketing when I have deadlines to hit.  I don't have time now, for instance, to take any life drawing workshops, but I will after the holidays.  The rhythm of the art day is influenced by the calendar.  Go with the flow of what the priorities are.
  • Being organized helps me be more creative.  I have a paper notebook where I write everything down.  I also have a calendar where I note opportunities I might want to do in the future.  Don't have to keep things in my head and can relax.
  • The art is the thing.  I can truly get lost in the marketing, blogging, etc.  Deadlines loom and as I said I do my best work in 2 hour max shots.  I am strict about them.  But recognizing how I work best helps me do my best work.  Gotta go now!  Robin
I'm Robin Zebley, specializing in portraits of pets, animal art and now portraits of children.  My pet portraits site is full of info and samples.  I love comments on my blog and would love to hear from you!  If you would like to contact me by email, it's HERE.


dellartist said...

Words of great wisdom, Robin! You seem to have learned how to work with your own flow and make it work for you. I should probably copy this post and put it where I can refer to it often. It is inspiring to me. Thanks!

Robin said...

Yay!! We all help each other! Thanks, Dellartist!

Susan said...

Great insights Robin - keep up the good work! I know what you mean about so many things taking up your time. I get so caught up sometimes in networking, blogging, etc. While this is good, fun and even necessary to promote and expand our world and business, it does need to be limited. I'm thinking of using a timer on myself like I make my kids do!

Robin said...

Susan Beth, that is a GREAT idea!