beneath quiet snow
spring, time, the cosmos align
tender buds await
beneath quiet snow
spring, time, the cosmos align
tender buds await
Whenever I am in the notion to work I do not want to have to struggle with tools, find things I need, clear off messy work surfaces and do double work type work to make something. I am a one person shop-studio- en plein air Artist. It is up to me to give myself every advantage I am able.
On the bus I have my tools in a neat vintage Lands End™. One zipper and a snap I am ready to read or sketch. The other places I create are fairly organized, but just. I can wander between projects and return to the easel over many days. Tools line the drawers and parts and pieces fill bins, containers, and the occasional peanut butter jar.
I make it a rule to finish projects– they may not be perfect, that doesn’t matter, I complete my work. Work I’ve promised by a deadline gets to the person before the deadline. If something is needed by Thursday and I get it Monday the piece is ready on Wednesday before 5 p.m.
Because I’m cool? Nope. Because I don’t like things hanging over my head. Besides it’s my word that is worth more than the project I’m working on. If I lose my good name, even if it’s not my fault, then I cannot buy it back.
So I keep tools, materials, and work spaces ready for work. I won’t win any awards from minimalist decor folks. I can find anything and I can usually remember where I have filed most of my stuff. That’s my test. Keep like things with like things; label the drawers; use clear containers with labels; put up things as I go and simple processes like that. This keeps something like a mess from hanging over my head.
As I typed before, I admit I won’t win at perfection, zero mess, just a bit of wisdom in the seeming madness. I have a shop-vac, several brooms and dust pants, even a magnet on a rope when needed.
Note I didn’t say “rules”. When things are ‘supposed to be’ done a certain way, or controlled this way, or filled with judgment I usually baulk, or “buck-up” as the Aunties used to say.
Rules are fine but if I make a process that functions well, it will not be perfect. I might leave my acrylic paints all out, in trays that go into a cabinet when I’m finished, but I want to see my materials. It’s like when I get new color pencils–that excites me. I can’t wait to use the new pencil. I’ll even start a new page just to incorporate it into the composition or just go crazy mono-chrome.
Leaving an organized neat area dedicated to acrylics, or oils, or wood-block, or just my easels helps me organize my day-week-month. It’s like my “visual-control” for my project management. I can manage what I see and I “go-and-see” continuously as “walk-around-management” of myself. Big job.
I know by working with materials on a daily basis, seeing them regularly, and monitoring my progress what I need to replenish. I don’t have duplicated materials, nor do I run out of 20% gray pencils at 3:00 am Sunday morning. I don’t waste time looking for materials and resources; I don’t have waste in duplicated items–6 pounds of “sinker” nails is more than I need for this project–and I keep a re-order list and make a time to order as needed. I also keep a list of items to trade, give away, or sell.
These concepts help me keep my spaces ready to work. Organized for production is what I like to call it. It’s also a fun way to engage with the materials, to bring an idea or inspiration to the front and spring-board into the work.
I have to make the most of every opportunity I make or every time I get the chance to make something that I think is cool. When I’m ready to get busy I am more motivated to do just that.
Going to the shop or to the studio not a struggle, it’s a pleasure. By design.
There are those days when someone passes by me whilst I’m at my drawing pad and exclaims, “I can do that!”
I smile and keep drawing. After about a second, because I don’t want to lose the moment, I give them a pad and some pencils.
“Oh, no I couldn’t.”
But you just said your could. Give yourself this little gift, this precious time. Draw!
Some of the materials I favor are readily available at most office supply shops or even pharmacies. I chose them for that reason–wide availability.
Among my supplies I have A4 (8.5 x 11) paper in white and a few colors, some A6 (4 x 6) plain index card stock, a few color pencils, #2 pencils, and blank journal books.
Then I scoop up my satchel and get busy.
I can do that.
Why submit to fear?
Carve out your productive time.
Put yourself into your work. After all it’s why the client, gallery, consumer, or peers chose us.
Keep your promises.
If you fail, face it. Who said your should pretend to be super-human? Failure is when you quit. Don’t quit. You’ll never be super-human, okay?
Take care of your body and your mind. Not an exhaustive list, but hey, work with it for your own life.
The obligation attached to being an Artist is to make things. Take something and make something else. I like collage in this way because it gives something different from the original materials.
Just “different” is not enough. Only to a certain extent do I “know” what I am making. I received a lot of encouragement over the years, however, I still hear, “What’s that mess going to be?” I typed the words but not the quote, because it was not so easy on the eyes.
I gave up on what I was working on, even on Art more times than not. I had many un-finished drawings, ailing canvases, and un-used materials. I put it up to impatience, but it was the message about the “mess” that came through later, without many smiles.
Now that is not so much the case. Now I power through the “comments” people make at classes or out in the public or when I share a sketch book with someone who is curious.
I usually hole up in the studio or somewhere private to draw. I took some inspiration from allies and took the minimal kit to a public spot and drew.
“What’s that you’re doing? You’re an artist!” Now I’m surrounded by seven to eleven-year old people craning to see into my books and wanting to see more.
The more of my drawings I show them the more they are delighted. They smile a lot, all the way up into their eyes.
Now I sort of know what Art I’m making.
I’m making Smiles.
Sometimes a person needs another person to be whole. The sweet life.
One more round of billiards is a cool end to the weekend. Fine good friends.
Run one more mile before calling it a workout. Stick to it.
Art requires much of me. On one side, I am filling my notebook with reminders to correct errors. In that book I record the blunders, the almost-but-not-good-enoughs, all the lessons I am learning are in there. “That’s one for the Notebook” is a common phrase around me.
I started over each time. Ate the mistakes, went around the breakdowns, and overcame the log-jams.
That is design. The stylish well-pressed clothes and perfect hair under the lights, well, that is glamour. I hope someone else is paying for that.
On the other side, I am stocking my toolbox with tools that will help me to continuously improve over time, every day.
Attitude is part of my tool box, it is a mental process of improvement. Improvement makes me more efficient and less likely to blunder (so much).
The Fundamentals have been banged in to me from first memories:
Marketing is essential, but I must have something to trade on, something to grasp someone’s imagination and I must communicate clearly and simply.
Talk is cheap. I must rock my art.
That is why I work every day. Art makes sense that way to me or else it is a hobby. Nothing sideways about that, go for it if that is your gig.
Art is my Fire.
Art makes me whole.
If you would like to comment feel free. I usually respond within 24-hours during the week.
It is fine to describe my work to others using verbs. Artists are people. We’re into artistic production; we bring ‘stuff’ forward, into the real world from the imagination. We produce.
If the conversation goes beyond a one syllable response, “Oh,” the follow-up question, if I get that far, is:
Next, I receive their advice, “Isn’t it wiser to focus on one sort of Art?”
So the conversation switches to the script they’ve written. It’s pretty good. A mystery.
And I listen. Because I owe them one.