Being ready by Design

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.

Junk in Plastic Boxes

Containers on a shelf. Like things with like things. 

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.

Brushes cleaned and ready

A process of brush care at the end of a session.

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.

Raygun Build Parts

Selected items ready for  a project.

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.


Be Limitless Stray from the Path

The quickest path between two points is a straight line. In a crowded world that is nearly impossible.

I like the winding path. Un-enforced and edge-bumping ways tickle my fancy and are traceable only by having passed by that way.


Stray from the path and be the explorer; sail for the edge of the map; do so with a kindly spirit and merry wonderment. Strive to overcome prior training.

I am sure of a shrinking list of propositions, like efficiency, production, and patterned recipes for success. I am friendlier toward my imagination and what I make when I ask:  “What if I?”

It is alright to stray from the path in Art. Meander in concept and in practice raise the hackles of design.

Fine but how to do all this “straying” and “raising of hackles”?

I suggest give up excuses. Then, consider each new project as an adventure; one that you make. Eliminating excuses means you have to perform. Excuses hold Artists back. Replace excuses with being limitless.


Being limitless means experiment, explore, and expand a given method. Re-focus design, methods, and propositions, or generating more “What if’s”. In short it means give up relying on: “I can’t.”

  • What other tools work? Inventive.
  • What am I truly seeing here? Adaptative.
  • What if this material or method were used as if it were…. [fill in the blank] Experimental.
  • Transfer one set of learning to a new problem. Thinking.
  • Make a new path. Keep your promises. Responsible
  • Instructions are guides not shackles. Authentic voice.
  • Personal experience is the real and the imagined. Placing You in the Design.
  • Starting over is strength. Purposeful.
  • Be thankful for serendipity. Happy accident or unconscious play.
  • Put the “you” into your Art. Make your art a production, featuring your authentic voice. Produce your Art.
  • Create your own projects. That is how you can be truly Expressive.

Becoming Limitless

Back to the allusion of getting from point A to point B in that straight line method of efficiency. In my design I intend to make point B because I can.

I Artist, Making the Foundation Good


I need some mercy on my soul
Right now–
Gimme what you got.


Why submit to fear?

  • Other people are counting on your fear. Your anxiety feeds them somehow. Maybe they can sense it on you.
  • That’s why clients are reluctant to pay. And why they ‘micro-manage’.
  • That’s why other Artists are salivating at their shot at what should have been yours.
  • Denying fear isn’t my suggestion. Face it. That maybe the best start. You’ll have to design the next steps.

Re-design yourself.

  • Jettison old bad habits. Heck, give yourself every break you deserve.
  • Have your work space ready for work. Pre-stage your materials.
  • Be ready to burst forth from the gate. Otherwise you’ve hobbled yourself to the ground and it’s 1:00 PM (1300 hours) and you’re staring at a blank some more.
  • Make a list. Do the list. Move forward.
  • Tell them you want more time, more money, more share. Then earn it.
  • Nothing is cheap, excellent, and on-time. Choose two. It’s a good guideline for yourself, for your studio, for us all, and for your clients

Carve out your productive time.

  • Know the cost you pay for every hour in your day. Same as with your rents, your materials, insurance, or any other cost. TIME IS MONEY.
  • Don’t put things off. I know creative people “procrastinate” but when you do, keep it on your project. If you’ve convinced yourself procrastinating puts you in a ‘highly pressurized zone where you do your best work” and that’s working for you. Okay with that. But, if that ‘highly pressurized zone’ is not where you’re getting you the results you want then, d’oh!
  • Manage your time. Work. Rest. Repeat.
  • Production is not equal to Perfect. Better done on-time than perfect.

Minimize distractions.

  • Clear out your calendar.
  • Set your phone aside for a while.

Put yourself into your work. After all it’s why the client, gallery, consumer, or peers chose us.

  • You and I may be unique but there are imitators and copy-cats
  • Only you can do what you do—and that involves being the first one in the door. After that you have to hope © and ™ will protect you.

Keep your promises.

  • Just no compromise here, okay! You don’t have enough treasure to buy a good reputation.
  • Climbing back up from that hole that is ‘broken promises’ or ‘he doesn’t care’ or what a lousy reputation is what was made by not keeping 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?

  • Make the adjustments. Get back up. Go again.
  • Improve your work habits. Only you can over-come You.
  • Work so you can feel good about your project.
  • Create that energy, that excitement where you can’t wait to see what amazing Art you’re going to make today.

Take care of your body and your mind. Not an exhaustive list, but hey, work with it for your own life.

  • Rest & Work
  • Nourishment
  • Exercise
  • Cleanliness
  • Relationship time
  • Reflection time

No excuses.

  • Get back up if you fail. Put yourself into all your work.
  • Re-design yourself when needed. Improve your serve: Be your time manager. Don’t throw flexibility out the window. Limit distractions—close your studio for certain hours.
  • Be good to your word. Do what only you can do–produce your Art in a timely manner.
  • Stand up for yourself. Ask for more of everything you can.
  • You are the adult in charge of you. Own that.
  • Be a self-starter. Then do your Art until it is finished. And finished on time.

Being a Scrounger

It’s been two days since I’ve picked up any interesting junk. I have a deep respect for found objects.

I started June 2016 with a few loose nuts and bolts.

  • I had peanut butter jars on hand
  • Put the nuts in one jar– bolts in another
  • On a shelf

When I go through my shelves of junk for an Art project it’s almost like birthday opening presents.

Junk in Plastic Boxes

Locks, Keys, Bits, Pieces

In May I opened my bins and shelves to my friends. They made a little party of it. To their credit they hauled off a lot of swag.

That is why I had a few empty jars in June.

I know I should stop scrounging.

But life is so full of such interesting stuff.

The Day after the Big “Art”


Big “Art” creates big messes and I help.

In the shop there is a work bench, a small cubby I call my “study” where several easels and project tables await, and a finishing room I keep very clean.

In my practice myriad cast-off chips lounge and parts dance on the flat surfaces everywhere. The second and third attempts at Big “Art” loll against the wall. My sad secret is I prepare two canvases in case, no, when I goof.

Cleaning after each session is my habit, however the “neat-ifying” comes later.

Big Clean is the order of the day after an intense effort of what I call Big “Art”. Creating “order” is part of the process and the “muse” does not ‘get-it’. In fact ‘she’ is very absent with never a peep from her golden lips.

The Shark™and the Swiffer™ take their turns. The smell of turpentine is replaced by Pinesol ™ and Clorox™. Windows sparkle, everything is dusted, all pillows plumped, the fridge re-filled with drinks.

Fuel Filter Lamp toggle

The day after Big “Art” should receive an “H-rating”, to be hated, but I enjoy the work. It is a true ‘catharsis’ (like the pun, keep it) I am getting ready for the next scheme.

And I cannot wait.