Monday, March 14, 2011

Thoughts on Routine

color sketch - acrylic/pencil/oil pastel on paper

Recently I've been wrestling a lot with the topic of Routine. Schedule. Habit. Trying to set one up, trying to keep to it, and oftentimes just plain giving up on it as soon as I get just a little bit distracted. Since I stopped being anyone's "employee" about five years ago, this has probably been my biggest challenge. I don't have anyone to tell me what to do but me, and I'm a very lenient boss.

Why do I keep trying? Because I know that I can't just wait for Inspiration to strike, or she never will. When I do go to my studio consistently, I might have three crappy days of painting followed by one fantastic day, and I know that the fantastic day was only possible because of the foundation I built by showing up for the three crappy days. And if I don't schedule the necessary time for this, then I don't treat it with the respect it needs and I'm too easily talked into doing other things and letting other people's scheduling needs trump my own.

Something I am finally learning though, through oft repeated and torturous lessons, is that my scheduling needs are just as real. I may not have to report to an employer, but I do have to pay respect to my Muse or she gets really miffed.

But I also know that if I push myself too hard to meet my (unrealistic) scheduling expectations that I burn out and give Resistance a crack to wedge itself into. So what I'm really seeking here is balance. But how to achieve this balance?

I'm working on it, and it's made me very curious about other creatives' routines. Do you have a routine? Do you work on your art every day? At a set time? For a set number of hours? Or as the muse takes you? What really gets in your way? Do you have any tricks to get yourself working even when you're not in the mood? I'd really like to know.


Anonymous said...

I'm interested in the answers you get. Can you summarize them on FB?

bridgette said...

Before kids and when I was doing just my journals. I would go to my studio at 9 am and work til noon. Lunch. Then work until 5. Every Monday I made a to-do list. I broke down large tasks into smaller tasks. I couldn't just say make 10 books- it wouldn't get done. I had to break it down into simpler, more do-able tasks.
It's different with painting, less prep work. But I really think that it is vital to have some sort of routine/schedule. Not to kill yourself, but to help you. Act as if you have to be there. Act as if you have to report to someone, which you do actually- yourself. Then it will become a habit.
Have you read Joe Fig's book -The Painter's Studio? He asks each artist about their daily routine. Read it!! Might give you some ideas!
The fact that you are scrutinizing and asking yourself these questions means that you are on the right track.
Now that I don't work 40+ hours in the studio, I have to have a clear plan of what I want to accomplish before I even enter my studio. Otherwise I fritter the time away and I can't afford to do that. I make a list of goals for the day. Sometimes there's 10 things on there, sometimes there is just 1. But it helps me to focus.

Angela Wales Rockett said...

Binky - Looks like Bridgette's is the only answer I got, so nothing really to summarize. I've still got more to say on the subject though.

Bridgette - Thank you so much for taking the time to write this out! I've long admired your work ethic and how you didn't let becoming a mother stop your artmaking. And I will definitely have to look for that book.