Sunday, February 10, 2019

Finding the Time to Make Art

There is a saying that 'days are long, but the years are short,' and in art-making this is most certainly true. A couple days go by without doing your creative activity, and then before you know it, it's a few weeks.The calendar gets scribbled on some more, and a few months have gone by. And hopefully, you start to see the dust gathering on your work-table and it sets off alarm bells deep within your soul. Because before you know it, those days can morph into old, stale years marked only with wistful good intentions. And sometimes, so very sadly, artists decide that they used to create, because it's been so long since they last tried to make anything, and they are probably so rusty that what's the use, and in the midst of all those excuses, potential drifts away.
The Listeners, 2013, c. Cory Jaeger Kenat

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not as prolific with my art as I used to be. As I mentioned in the last post, storage concerns have greatly slowed me down. But I have always been pretty adept at time management, and carving out some time nearly every day for art has yielded walls of completed works over the years.

There are Other Ways to Measure Time, 1999, c. Cory Jaeger Kenat
It really doesn't take much time, after all, to follow your dream. I have had chaotic seasons in my life where I would set the kitchen timer for fifteen minutes and paint like a madwoman until the thing went off. Sometimes it was a great trick to propel me forward a little bit, even if I wasn't in the mood, and in those cases I might reset the timer for a couple more fifteen minute sessions. But other times, when things were really, really tight, that might be all the over-scheduled day would allow, but at least, it was something. And then I could go about all the other work knowing that I had given a bit of time to something special in my life.

Artists often think in grand, sweeping vistas. It's part of their dramatic nature. It's not uncommon to hear unfulfilled artists stating that the only way they can follow their heart is to run away from it 'all' for a few solid months. But work can be done, even in the most crazy of times.

'Pink Pearl' 2006, c. Cory Jaeger Kenat
I have always 'planned my work, worked my plan', so yes OCD that I am, I write a list of what I intend to do before I begin each day. At this point, I am able to schedule a 'studio hour', and I spend that hour in the morning, when my mind is the sharpest. Dr. Eric Maisel, creativity coach and author of 'Fearless Creating' as well as a host of other books, strongly suggests that you tackle your creative tasks as early in the morning as possible. He reasons that this way the projects that are closest to your heart take top priority in your life and don't get shunted off the last part of the day, when a person is drained and apt to procrastinate. I am a morning person by nature, and I can imagine that this would be hard for those who dread the a.m. But I can see the logic of all this, and have to admit that when I was working full-time and didn't paint in the morning, I never got anything done in the evening...even my fifteen minute fail-safe often succumbed to the stupid sitcoms on the TV. 

'Hailing', 2006 c. Cory Jaeger Kenat

 An artist's life demands cleverness with resources, whether it be materials, money, or especially time. It's crucial that we take our lives seriously, and that means accepting the fact that our art will not be made unless we give it the time it needs.


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