If I could do just what I want to do every day, I would get up, make coffee, go into my studio and paint until I got hungry, have a quick bite and return to the studio and paint. At the end of the day, I would sit down with a glass of wine and perhaps grab a quick bite with friends or grab a quick bite in my kitchen and return to my studio to paint. Of course if I only did want to do, I would have lots of paintings leaning against the wall with no place to go. Nobody would see my art and eventually I would just become that weird old lady who stays upstairs in her creepy house with the yard that's overgrown and the mail piling up in the mailbox.
It turns out that you have to find balance in your life, even if you just want to make art all the time. So this week, my challenge has been to catch up with everything I have neglected recently while creating and hanging 24 paintings in two galleries, with an opening reception for an unknown number of people at a large show in a shared space with my friend Rick, a photographer whose beautiful photos were hanging with my paintings of our trip to Utah last summer. As it happened, there were around 50 people at our reception, the shows have both received positive comments and I sold 3 paintings. But my house is a train wreck, I have piles of mail on my desk, food I have had to throw away in my fridge and my workshop in the basement where I do my framing, matting, or whatever requires a large space where I can make dust, was a disaster.
Balance means making the time to keep your life moving in the direction you want to go. It means maintaining my website and my blog (one day late this week! ). It means keeping my workspace organized so I can find what I need when I need it. It means diving in to the dreaded paper piles to make sure I didn't miss any bills or important mail so I won't get kicked out of my house or have my power turned off (ok, so I do have everything on auto pay but still...).
As I have been thinking of what to write this week, I've thought of two lessons in particular that I have found helpful. The first one is Steven Covey's famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Although it has been around for a long time and is written in business-speak, his advice is timeless and can be applied to more than just business settings. Especially, his advice to be proactive and sharpen the saw.
Being proactive in this case means taking the time to arrange my space so that I don't have to interrupt the creative flow right in the middle of a painting to go and find my tools and supplies. Sharpening the saw means I can't just sit back and keep doing what I have always done. I need to keep learning new techniques for painting, seeing and mixing color, and translating the feeling and atmosphere that moved me to make a particular painting onto the canvas.
The other thing that comes to mind is a life coaching certification class I took a long time ago. I have used the information I learned in many settings but one of the personally most valuable exercises I learned was one called "tolerations". Make a list of all of the little things that bother you- from disorganization of your space to little things like a loose doorknob or a squeaky door. Then prioritize them in order of irritation level and complexity. Then tackle the list one by one. It's amazing the positive psychological effect this has.
That's what I did this week. I took time away from what I really wanted to do and made time to balance my life by attacking my disaster of a workshop so I can now spend less time looking for stuff I need and use more of my time doing the things I need to do to move my art life forward- framing and preparing paintings for hanging, painting edges and frames, creating a space for really messy, dusty but fun projects. It felt so good to finally have it together.
Next week, I tackle my studio and my body- back to the gym to get back into shape after a couple of months focusing on making enough paintings for these two shows. Below you can see before and after pictures of my shop which, thanks to my late husband who was a woodworker on the side, is very equipped for anything I might want to do with wood!
What do you need to do to get rid of the things you are just tolerating but that are bugging you? How will you begin to sharpen your saw? I have been asking people to leave comments but have found out that I need to work on that function. Apparently the site wants you to sign in with a password. I HATE that and am working to try to eliminate that requirement. In the meantime, if you want to leave a comment or have a question, please leave your comments by clicking on the chat box. I will receive the comments in my e-mail in-box. Thanks!