View Full Version : What is your creative pattern?

07-11-2003, 07:50 PM
Background: I have a week off of my day job to do nothing but art (almost). In the past I've frittered time like this away.

The Question:

What creative pattern works for you over a period of days? What I'm interested in knowing is how much and when you stop to get distance from your work, do you rise early and work late, what do you do (if anything) to avoid distractions, and so on. Be specific in explaining your successes at this.

My week starts - Tomorrow!


07-11-2003, 08:42 PM

Lucky for you but I know the challenge of organizing the time wisely.

Of course it helps to have a painting pal. I just visited JamieWG this week and we had a blast painting still lifes together. We just had the touch to nudge each other to paint when one of us was less than inspired.

Some other ideas:

Join a plein aire painting group and sign up for a few paint out events during the week. A group of artists sign up to meet at a scenic place and paint. Usually its easier to keep commitments to others than it is to ourselves. Sad, isn't it, but you can make that work for you.

Attend an open figure studio or a limited time class.

Set a few painting dates for yourself away from home to paint something from life that you've always wanted to but never have. It could be an interesting street corner with people, a beach scene, etc.

If all else fails, I usually set a schedule for myself at home. To mimic the structure of a class, I work in 25 minute periods and take a 5 minute break in between. 25 minutes is a great time period for giving yourself a simple goal: find a subject, arrange a subject, do the preliminary sketch, block in the values, etc. You keep on giving yourself simple goals and taking a break between each one. Voila, a finished painting in a day or two.

Hope this helps!

07-12-2003, 07:06 AM
Whenever I have earmarked some 'time' to be creative .....and attempt to concentrate my efforts in that direction only, someone always manages to come along with some problem or other, that requires attending to....... NOW!

I have learned therefore, not to show any signs of being rattled by those words in my ear that would at one time, be guaranteed to 'get me going'.........
"Sorry to bother you.....I mean, I know your busy, but......."

Showing frustration.....feeling it especially, is counter-productive to my very own creative process. Probably for most, I reckon...

During these periods of "bursting with creativity" I tend to rise early.....work for a few hours before the rest of the world gets outa bed.......then go through the motions of interacting with people around me....My neutral expression and minimalist attention to "other peoples' dilemmas" first thing in a morning puts me in the category of being "on another planet",,,,,,, however.

Later in the day, I shall be more receptive, but don't always need to be cos most of the huge problems that seemed to come with the dawning of each new day, have mysteriously solved themselves by lunchtime, and everyone else seems to be managing just fine without me anyway....:rolleyes:

Then I will have 'a walk out'.

If I had a dog......that would be the time to take him out. Well, you've heard of course, that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun.......and they do. Walking out gives me the opportunity to 'sort my head out' mebees further develop my ideas for whatever it is I'm working on [never just one picture, I might add] so that when I return I shall be refreshed and able to 'get something done'.....Often I work late, but a lot of the 'after tea' time is spent in a more relaxed manner, so this is when I'll do a deal of experimenting.....[some would call it, 'messing about' . :p ]

I suppose, in all seriousness, I try to display outwardly, signs that I'm perfectly 'cabable' and very few people are ever aware as to whether I am on a creative roll or in a depression. I guess that comes down to temperament, personality etc. I try to make time for everyone, generally speaking. Don't avoid distractions... more, take them in my stride...Well, try to........

I have heard some real horror stories of how unapproachable some "artists" are when they are "working".......which goes to make other people's lives ; their loved ones, a misery......Can't be doin with that.

Have a good week, eh? be cool :)


Cathy Morgan
07-12-2003, 10:02 PM
My creative energy seems to be better in the morning, though if I get up early I'm just in a fog. Do you know your prime time? Mine is usually about 10 am till 1 pm. Sometimes I can get into it earlier and I can usually write well very early.

Mid to late afternoon I can sometimes do a challenging studio task (if it's not too hot) that has fazed me earlier. It's as the "trying too hard" part of me says "well, the day's about over anyway" and some other part of me sort of slips in and gets the job done while I'm not looking.

If I get on the computer, it's hard to get back to the studio.

Till I'm satisfied with artmaking for the day, I keep the phone ringer turned off. I use voice mail so I don't hear people leaving messages. (I guess you can turn the volume on answering machines down to off, too.)

Best wishes for your week! Hope it's productive and joyful.

07-12-2003, 10:45 PM
Originally posted by Cathy Morgan

Mid to late afternoon I can sometimes do a challenging studio task (if it's not too hot) that has fazed me earlier. It's as the "trying too hard" part of me says "well, the day's about over anyway" and some other part of me sort of slips in and gets the job done while I'm not looking.

Hmm, Cathy, are you sure that this is not your most productive time? If you can finish a challenging task that stumped you earlier, you must have a very high energy level from mid to late afternoon.

But then I can paint unusually well at 5 oclock in the morning and I am definitely not a morning person.

Keith Russell
07-13-2003, 12:03 AM
Good evening.

I'm not a morning person either. I do my best work at night (and you can take that any way you like...), after the sun goes down, the day's chores and errands are finished, and I can relax, uninterrupted.

Generally, I get a two or three nights a week (three to five hours) to work, with one full day (eight to twelve) hours on Sundays.

Sometimes--if I'm really lucky--I can get three to four hours of work done on Saturdays, too.


07-13-2003, 12:23 AM

What's your pattern on Sunday when you have all day?

Dan is on vacation this week and he's looking for suggestions to use the time wisely so he doesn't 'fritter the time away' in his words.

Dan, how's it going? :)

07-13-2003, 01:50 AM
Originally posted by erik_satie_rolls
...My week starts - Tomorrow!
Wrong answer... Your week starts NOW! :clap:

To me it's like quitting smoking, dieting or exercising. The mind-set that guarantees a start is being ready to begin immediately. You are ON -the OFF you is history. No last cigarettes, sips of cola, bites of cheesecake, etc. you start with whatever you can. Lay out your tools, ready the canvases, decide what to work on, take care of all that preliminary stuff with what time and energy you have each moment. Don't give yourself too much time to think or you will open ourself up to dabble that time away. Dig in and when you feel like you need a break analyze the work not yourself doing the process.

You want to feel accomplishment but avoid thinking about it. Get over to the other side of the hill before taking a long look around. Starting immediately you feel the difference and are riding the wave for the rest of the time. I will use more of the time productively if I dig in immediately sometimes even staying up for the first couple days than if I try to plan everything out. You risk never catching a wave if you delay and plan too much.

07-13-2003, 02:18 AM
Originally posted by MikLNjLo

Dive in the water or ski down a steep slope -you must involve yourself in doing it. Dig in and when you feel like you need a break analyze the work not yourself doing the process.

I guess different strokes for different folks. If starting a painting always reminded me of starting down a steep ski slope, I'd never touch my brushes.

A little pressure to raise the adrenaline is good but a lot of pressure can stop all but the hardiest in their tracks. Did your father throw you in the water to teach you how to swim? :p

07-13-2003, 03:17 AM
Originally posted by DanaT

I guess different strokes for different folks. If starting a painting always reminded me of starting down a steep ski slope, I'd never touch my brushes.

A little pressure to raise the adrenaline is good but a lot of pressure can stop all but the hardiest in their tracks. Did your father throw you in the water to teach you how to swim? :p
I am just relating to the feeling of being fully involved with all of my faculties. You do not have the option of dilly-dallying or you will wipe out. And sooo much fun!

Keith Russell
07-13-2003, 10:22 AM
Dana, the best Sunday schedule that works for me is, first, that the studio be organized by Saturday night. That way, I can go in first thing Sunday (after a shower, and a quick perusal of WC--like I'm doing now), and not have to worry about organizing reference photos, art supplies, books, catalogs, magazines, bills, etc.

If I can get in the studio about 10 AM on Sundays, I usually try to begin with a few hours of painting. I'll take a painting that is already fairly well along, and begin. (That way, even if nothing else I do the rest of the day 'works', I will feel like I accomplished something, by getting further along on the painting.)

After that, lunch. Then I'll get to work on some in-progress drawings, or sketches I'm working on, and try to move one or more of them further along. I might wander over to the mat cutter and mat a few prints, if the first attack of the drawings doesn't go very well.

Then, I'll get back to work on the drawings a second time, then break for dinner.

After dinner, if the drawings are going well, I'll stick with them. If not, I'll either go back to the painting I worked on that morning, or another one, and try to make some serious progress before bed.

If all goes well, I will have added to my print inventory, improved two or three drawings to the point that they're ready to be transferred to illustration board and are ready for painting, as well as moved one or two paintings much closer to completion.

Of course, if I have a deadline approaching, I'll simply work on whatever it is until its either finished, or I've run out of Sunday.


07-13-2003, 10:31 AM
That looks like a good schedule Keith. I also like to switch what I'm working on during the day to avoid working on one thing that may not pan out.

I hadn't thought of working on an existing work first though. I like the idea; its like in the corporate world when they talk about low hanging fruit. Something easy that shows progress. Although working on an existing painting is not always easy, it's usually easier for me than starting a new one.

07-14-2003, 02:49 PM
Now that I have picked a direction, I have very specific goals and a timeline. If you read my story about what NOT to do in the business forum, you'll see sometimes the timeline can move up and hit you in the face, which I did not expect.

Anyway, I am doing portraits in colored pencil. Right now I'm working on dogs, and marketing them.

Regarding my week, I always have worked on a 3 day plan. I figure out what HAS to be done, personally or art, before Thursday morning. I find this helps me to chunck chores together. And it frees me from worrying or rushing around. I try to do the junk during an art break.

I work for an hour or so at a time and then I need a break. Easy with cp, you just put it down and walk away. I'll check in here. In the afternoon, shorter work times and longer breaks. I also walk the dogs on nice days in the afternoon.

I've been an art maniac. I am reading my first novel in a year that wasn't on my bookclub list and I try to look at most things in several forums, read some art history, etc...

I think when I feel less panicked about what I'm doing, I'll be able to work on more than one thing at once, depending on how tired I am. I mean, sometimes I'm just adding layers to a background and if I could plan that for after dinner, that would be cool. When I read more, I always had about 3 or 4 books going at a time, so I imagine when I graduate from art kindergarden, I'll be able to do that.

On bad days, I just hang around here. I really have a hard time working on art when I'm upset and the war really upset me and I was here a LOT!!!! I usually don't do much work on the weekends. And if one of my sons stops by or calls I just drop everything because as you might know, a visit from an adult kid is a treat to be enjoyed..

07-14-2003, 03:06 PM
Originally posted by RobinZ
Now that I have picked a direction, I have very specific goals and a timeline.

Good point Robin. I think setting some simple goals is the best way to take advantage of the timeframe you have. Like you said it gives you direction and a purpose.

07-16-2003, 09:39 PM
Well, today was my 3rd day off for so-called vacation and I really hit the studio running. I painted in the morning and then, because I had all these drawings around, started framing.(These were frames that had older work in them or were empty.) Along the way I discovered something:

Even though I have no definite shows planned, no reason to frame a lot of work, doing so really got me going creatively. It had me looking at a lot of recent work much more critically, and in one case, I made the decision that a piece was 'finished' by virtue of its being 'frameable'. I pulled out a few clunkers and whipped them into shape, and based upon some still empty frames, have some definite ideas for starting some brand new things, we'll see how THAT goes tomorrow.

Can anyone relate to this experience?

(now all I need is a venue for the new work :) )

07-17-2003, 01:32 PM
Dan, you were really on a roll today! That's great.

I had to laugh when I read about framing. :) I had to mat and frame some paintings for some class shows. Seeing them on the wall in their mats and frames gave me great pride in my work but also showed me what could be better so I could try it the next time. I came away from both shows totally energized.

Anytime you have the opportunity to show, go for it. I've found it the best thing for motivation.

07-17-2003, 03:59 PM
Very true about the motivation Dana. It's also important to realize that post show depression is very real. I had to go on antidepressants after my last show came down which was right around Christmas to boot, the first one after my mom had passed away, ( a triple whammy).

For those that want more than a warning about post-exhibit depression, there are some good threads on wetcanvas.


07-20-2003, 11:04 PM
Hmmm, Dan. Losing your mother must have been a terrible loss. Don't you think you were more depressed because it was the first Christmas after her death? That would be enough to keep me from working.

07-21-2003, 10:38 PM
This subject I cannot easily explain although when I was a little younger I was diagnosed with a.d.d. Although upon graduating school I was still distracted by the same things and it wasnt that I was involuntarilily being distracted I would choose to observe other things such as bugs and trash.
These days in order to concentrate on other things I try to avoid this analysis of bugs and such. So in a way I ration my creativity like a smoker waiting for a smoke break because I am constantly looking forward to some sort of inspiration and it really doesn't come at any time of day or under any narcotic or by any mood it jsut appears I guess it's more as though in filing all the beauty i see in an urban environment for the right moment.