Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Building Speed Can Help You Become a Better Artist

As artists, we are used to working alone in the studio for much of the time, or outside in the field (alone). Being an artist is a solitary existence. I am blessed that I have a part time job in addition to painting, that forces me to leave the house in the morning and interact with others. If I didn't have that second job, I might not even change out of my pajamas, as the call of the studio would be too great. For me, the routine of a regular job where I meet new people and learn new things every day, adds to my depth as an artist.

My time in the studio is never taken for granted. I have to squeeze in the hours before I leave for work or after I've come home and made dinner (or ordered takeout). Time is valuable and the multi-tasking I do at work and at home has forced me to become more organized. Taxes are easier when expenses and mileage are tracked weekly. Spreadsheets are great for this task. I have a spreadsheet for everything now. It allows me to track where my paintings are hanging, how many I have sold and for how much, what kind of frames, and what sizes I have in stock etc. Organization can save you a lot of time, and you can use those extra minutes and hours to paint! I used to search through boxes looking for a frame that I vaguely remembered purchasing six months earlier. Now I check my spreadsheets and the location is marked clearly because I made time to MOVE the frame into inventory when it arrived at my studio.

Managing time has helped me to paint faster too. When you know you have a finite number of minutes or days to complete a project you tend to focus on getting done.

This brings me to last night's experiment: What can be painted in an hour? You would be surprised! Here are a few pointers.
1) Keep it small
2) Rough the value masses in early
3) Choose an obvious color scheme
4) Paint something you have painted before-- I definitely know pears as I have painted a LOT of them.
5) Watch the clock-- yes-- WATCH it. When you are down to the last ten minutes assess the painting and work hard to achieve some cohesion.

I painted this hand thrown pot and single pear with a spoon in an hour's time, and it really isn't a bad painting. It was made easier because I painted the same pears the day before. When you intentionally limit your time the brain zooms in on what is important and you're basically on auto-pilot. That's why it's a good idea to stop and ASSESS when you are almost done. Set a timer for 50 minutes if you don't want to be a clock watcher, and use those last ten minutes to clean up the edges and bring out the highlights.

I like to Photoshop the paintings into a frame to see what they look like too. It really gives you a better feeling for the piece and how it will look on the wall.

No comments: