Today's Post is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She is also a contributing editor for American Artist's Watercolor and Workshop magazines and she writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik. Find out how you can be a guest author.
Artists Are Visually Motivated
I believe that we artists are, for the most part, driven visually. When I'm away from home for a time, I completely forget about tasks that are waiting at home for me to finish. It's as though the things I can't actually see on a day to day basis cease to exist in for me. When I get home again, I see all that needs to be done and immediately augment my "to do" list.
So what does this have to do with productivity as an artist? Here's my theory: Whatever activities we start our day with will determine what we do during the day
. Appointments aside, artists have flexibility when it comes to arranging daily tasks. A problem sometimes arises for those of us who have a bit of trouble focusing or have a variety of important, but unrelated priorities.
The Reality: My Workday Requires A Variety of Unrelated Tasks
As Clint mentioned in his second post on selling art
, many of us have to do both our marketing and artwork because we don't have a spouse who can do it for us. (If I make enough money for my spouse to retire, then I'm all set). Back to reality.
.. I have more to do in a day as an artist than I ever had when working at other jobs: running my own business, writing blogs and articles for magazines, building a new body of artwork, making sure my collectors see my new work, planning shows and painting trips, meeting with other artists, attending group paint-outs and an occasional conference. On top of that, I need to have clean clothes and make myself look presentable whenever I go out of the house. Eating well and exercise... these often get neglected.
So how do I manage to run a business, make the product (artwork), ship and distribute, keep financial records, contact clients and buy materials without anyone to help me? I confess, I have not conquered this problem completely and probably never will, but here are some ideas I'd like to share that seem to make my life easier. The important thing for me to keep in mind is that I am visual, and that means that whatever I'm looking at - in other words, whatever is in my visual field at any moment is the most real thing too me.
The second important item to remember: in order to run a successful art business, I need to have paintings - and lots of them.
.. and they must be top notch if I expect to sell them.
It seems that I tend to get wrapped up in whatever task I begin my day with. For example, if first thing is to check my email and bookmarks... no matter how I try to avoid it... I don't have the willpower to switch over to painting. The way this works is - if I am looking at my PC screen, I forget about everything else I need to be doing. When I do get up, I see other things around the house that need to be done - and then those things become real to me. You see, my reality is determined by what I'm looking at or thinking about... everything else fades away... because I'm visual.
It's imperative that I become aware that my time is limited but my tasks are not. In order to fully conceive that I have no time to waste, I must make myself aware of the importance of making art each morning before I get involved with social media, reading interesting articles or replying to emails. Nothing about the Internet is truly urgent.
Not even email, affirming tweets or rising stats. All that info will be waiting for me when I have time later to check it.
My Key to Productivity
The answer: Put my real work out the night before so that I see it first thing in the morning.
Force myself to get involved in making art first thing, and chances are, I'll be at the easel for the following 4 hours. If I set out my art supplies for the next day's work before I go to bed, they'd be easy to see the next morning, and get me excited about painting before I get a chance to be led astray. Because... When the PC is "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", I am freer to focus completely on my art. On the other hand, just seeing my laptop makes me want to check my email.
Whetting the visual appetite also works with other tasks that falsely demand my attention. Such as "Oh, the kitchen floor is dirty, I need to clean it right now". The truth is... If I get started on my artwork, I'll forget all about the kitchen floor.
So if you're having trouble getting started on your artwork, try setting your art environment up so it's the first thing you see in the morning - or the afternoon if you're a night owl. It works for me because I'm motivated by what I see. If we artists put our work first and get into it ,there will be plenty of time left for those seemingly important tasks like email, Twitter, or mopping the kitchen floor.
Feel free to share how you prime yourself to make artwork in the comments section below.