February 10, 2014

Studio Habits: Are You Efficient With Your Time?

I have a confession to make, I do not spend eight hours a day toiling away in my art studio; 


I hardly ever get work done late into the night; and more than anything, I no longer feel guilty about it!

For as long as I can remember I've felt pressured that I wasn't making the most of my time. As a working artist this culminates into literally counting the hours that I spend in the studio. After I graduated college I started making myself a written weekly schedule that mapped out the days I'd be at my various part time jobs and the days I could spend on my artwork. Not that much has changed in all the years except now my schedule includes things like spending time with my daughter and husband, doing laundry and going food shopping. The art world has changed, though. That old model of starving artists struggling in their studios 12 hours a day is a bit outdated, but I still can't help but feel a tiny twinge of - disapproval.
I think of de Kooning who didn't even take a vacation without first procuring temporary studio space, or Bacon who reported to his cramped studio everyday regardless of relentless hangovers.

If time were a test, sometimes I think I'd fail. 

I have to remind myself that having to stop painting to cook dinner every night does not make me any less of an artist or less devoted to my work.


I usually work in the studio for about two hours straight without looking or thinking about the time. I may take a short break and then go back for another two hours or so. Occasionally I'll work for the full four hours without a break, but it's rare that I go longer than that on any given day. That doesn't include going back to look at the work later in the evening which can sometimes amount to hours of sitting and staring or writing notes.

view of my home studio



Some days I don't end up getting those last few hours in. My studio is in my home, which has many good points and bad points, one being that there are a lot of distractions. Over the years I've gotten used to spending a few days a week out of the studio. I've realized that I work best when I can come back to works in progress with fresh eyes. I've also learned how to work on smaller projects that I can do around the house while everyone's home.

Today is a typical day. I was up at 6:30 to help my daughter get ready for school. I made coffee and checked email and facebook, sat at the kitchen table and paid the bills for the week, put my painting clothes on and went into the studio. I worked for two hours, stopped to eat lunch and did some laundry. I'll go back to work for a few more hours and then my daughter will be home from school at 3:00. I usually wind down whatever I'm doing around then and clean up. I like to spend time with my daughter when she's home because I don't always have that luxury. I've worked on and off part time and full time at various jobs throughout the years including teaching and running my own galleries.

Even if I need the occasional reminder,

I'm sure that enjoying a full and well balanced life adds to my artwork in ways I could've never planned for.


Not that it's always so well adjusted, but certainly it is full.

I think the best artwork is often made out of the restrictive struggles we regularly encounter. Artists have as many unique and surprising ways of dealing with such struggles as the artwork we produce.


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