Finding Time To Paint (Write/Sculpt/Create anthing...)

I was going to paint today. No, really. I was.

The cute couple who are the subjects in my current portrait commission are on my easel right now looking at me as if to say, "Come paint our hands now. And how about clothes, for Heaven's sake?" I've looked back longingly and apologetically in return, but have not painted. I've vacuumed the gallery, taken photographs of two children for a portrait later in my schedule, sold a print, a bracelet and some cards to visitors, discussed the possibility of representation with an inquiring artist, eaten lunch -a bite now and then as I could dash into the kitchen between visitors, and I've composed this newsletter to send out to you. I haven't painted.

I think I know why:  I was taught to do my chores first and then play.  Like I was taught to eat my spinach and clean my plate before I could have dessert. 
Because painting is the funnest thing ever, I think I have to earn it.  I have to deserve it- I have to do my chores and eat my spinach first.
But what if you make a living doing what you love?  The rules get all tangled up in our heads.  Is painting (writing/sculpting/playing music/designing, etc.) now the play or the chore? I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "I wouldn't want to paint for my living, because then it would be work, not play."

It's never worked that way for me. Painting is the funnest thing, whether I'm painting a commissioned portrait or painting something of my own conception.  Getting paid to do it is an added layer of joy, not something that transforms the process into drudgery. So, what's the solution, you ask?

I think paintings get done when I schedule them in like they're important, too.   Women especially "get" this, I think.  We're learning to schedule ourselves into our own days along with the tasks of home and work.  It's intention backed up with actually writing it down.  Between "Do the laundry" and "Bank," you write "2:00-3:00 Paint." 

To REALLY make sure we do it, we can tell a friend what we intend and then plan to call that friend to report in once we've done it.  Learning to be accountable to ourselves is easier when we use our natural urge to be accountable to others.

Deadlines are fabulous motivators, too.  Painting for a specific competition or for someone's birthday gift or because you agreed on a certain due date with a client... all can light the fire under us to align ourselves with our easels and get started.  Waiting for the muse isn't smart. The muse shows up when we've got a smudge of Cadmium red on our right cheek or when we've lost track of time because we're typing fast and our brains are full of the story we're telling.

So... it's time to close up the gallery and I'm packing up the cute couple to take home with me. I've promised them hands and clothes. And I keep my promises.


Debra Bryant said...

Soooooooooo...does that mean painting tonight??? LOL I always enjoy your newsletters. It's as if you were sitting in the same room with me chatting over a cup of tea :) That's special!

Barbara Pask said...

When I head off to my studio I tell my husband "I'm heading to my studio to play". We are so lucky to do something we love. I'm not where you are of course where it actually pays bills but maybe one day. You are sure living the life and you deserve it. I'm happy for you.

Laura A. said...

You sound like you've got your head wrapped around this right. Motivation is the key, follow through is the unlocked door.

When I go down to the studio, I say I'm going to work. It puts my mind in the right attitude to not goof off. One day I'll see a return for all this hard work! And I can enjoy the painting process along the way.

Judy-in-nl said...

Susan I love the way you paint AND write! Thanks for the chat. I needed that! if I can only get away from the computer...:)

sjohnson said...

This is a very beautiful statement...thank you!

sjohnson said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful statement...very powerful!

Becky Brocato said...

Hi Susan! I really enjoyed meeting you last weekend at the gallery. It was so very nice of you and Ugur to take the time to visit a bit with my husband and me. We love Nueva Street Gallery. All the artwork is of such great quality. You are doing a wonderful job!

Pattie Wall said...

I totally agree with what you wrote. Add to that - running such a lovely gallery - before you had a gallery, but it wasn't as active with so many others involved...I think that would put my art nearer the back burner. Doing art and doing it for you, when you want - IS the funnest. BTW I love the way the couple is going, I just watched the first part this morning...cause your FB post reminded me it had been a long time since I watched you and I was so inpsired, I just ran off a bunch of portraits to go study in the studio, that's after I clean the chicken cage! Oh my... Paint on!

Barbara M. said...

Hi Susan,

Boy do I know what you mean here. I don't think I'm ever as concerned about every other task as when I need to finish the hands, or the face, and it's true, it's always fun when you make time to paint. Scheduling matters. I am trying to think that out before I go to bed. That really helps.

Love this post.


Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
Enjoyed your post about scheduling painting's what i do too, to make sure i get some...and it always turns out to be the funnest part of my day too. Sounds like your Neuva St gallery is humming along. all the best!

Jo Castillo said...

You are fun, too! I agree with you, thanks for reminding me!