Sunday, March 15, 2015

Secrets of a Prolific Painter

A little warm up painting. I have a few of these going
at any one time... gets me in the right head space
before I get to work.
Whenever I meet a new artist and we do the usual investigation into each other's work, I hear the same thing over and over....

"You're so PROLIFIC! How do you find time???" 

I have a 40 hour/week job. Sometimes (the last few months in particular) that will morph into a 50 hour/week job. I have a child... though he's not exactly a baby anymore (he's 17) and doesn't need me nearly as much as he did even a few years ago. I have a dog that needs care and a husband that I can't ignore and a house that needs cleaning.... yet I always have projects on the go. 

My big secret? I work at it. Every day. 

I read a study once where a group of art students were divided into two groups. One group was graded strictly on quantity. Didn't matter if what they turned in was awful, the only thing that mattered was how much of it got done. The second group only had to turn in one thing... they could spend the entire term working on one project, but it better be good, because it was worth 100%. In the end, the group that focused on quantity produced significantly better work.Turns out if you work at something consistently, you get better at it. Go figure.

Another small "warm-up". I painted
the card, added the text (an
image transfer), and the line drawing is ink.
I have a pile of these half done cards
and when I want to try out a new
technique, I do it on one of these. 
That study stuck with me. At the time, I was carving out maybe an hour or two a week to do my art. If I didn't have an hour I just didn't bother. Not enough time. It took me ages to actually complete a piece. Now, even if I only have 10 minutes I will go and do something. Doesn't really matter what. I have a tiny little book that I carry around with me. I doodle in it when I'm stuck in seriously boring meetings or have to wait in line. I have a book of mixed media paper that I draw random stuff in when I've only got 20 minutes. 20 minutes is long enough to get a decent drawing that is more or less finished, and the paper is heavy enough that I can paint on it, should I feel the urge. I've got many small paintings, in various stages of completion, that I can add to here and there when I've only got a half hour. I usually work on a couple at a time because paint needs to dry, and I don't want to waste my time. I have art journals for days when I'm pissed off or sad or feeling insecure and don't want that feeling to show in the painting I'm working on (and it always does). On those nights when I can't sleep, instead of sitting in front of the TV, I will write out the idea that keeps churning around in my brain, or do zentangle-type doodles until I feel sleepy. There is always time for something.

I've kept at it for a couple years now, and it's amazing how much I've accomplished. At the moment I have a solo show hanging at a music memorabilia shop, I've got a bunch of abstract pieces in a gallery, and I still have work on every wall in my home. And a few things stashed in the closets. Too much, perhaps... because really, what am I going to do with it all? If I can't find myself an avenue to actually sell this stuff, eventually space constraints will force me to stop making it. But that's another topic.....