Four excellent questions

January 16, 2009
 

Yesterday David Fitzgerald of Concord, California, asked some excellent questions. Every one of us would probably have given different answers. In trying to give him some insight, I realized that when I was younger I was trying to teach myself some decent habits, so my answers then would have been different than they are now. Here are the questions and my current ideas to go with them:

(Q) How do you manage your painting schedule? (A) For the most part, I don't. Because work habits have entered my lizard brain and taken over my muscle memory, I just keep going. It's like driving a pokey vintage car down a foreign track: you stop here and there to see and explore things that come up. Distance is not as important as joy found.

(Q) Do you have a goal to finish a certain number of works per year or month? (A) I definitely used to. I used to work a plan--350 a year was about average. Marathon sessions with professional friends proved to me that 4 or 5 a day was possible. I found it valuable at the beginning of each day to ask the muse what I ought to do. Sometimes she'd tell me to start a big job that might occupy several days. Other times she'd recommend less ambitious projects.

(Q) How do you handle paintings that move along more slowly than they should? (A) Unfinished or unresolved work is always a problem. Without getting bogged down in obsessive perfectionism, we should accept slowness of development as part of the process. That being said, some works become impossible projects and must finally be abandoned. Others can be set aside to live another day. Like cheeses in a cellar, they cure and ripen. With time, new techniques or solutions bubble to the surface. Different days have different powers. Desire is everything. With desire, curdled milk can be made into Gouda.  

(Q) How do you find the time to explore new ideas? (A) You need regularly to move from the assembly line and simply surrender to your intuition, and you need to be guilt free about it. While maybe a seeming distraction, it's the elixir that gives energy and courage to the roll of your production and your life in art. The penchant for exploration has a great deal to do with innate curiosity. Artists have curiosity in degree--some are all output and no curiosity, others are all curiosity and no output. For those who would care to evolve, this is one case where you need to be in the middle.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "
Profit is a by-product of work; happiness is its chief product." (Henry Ford)

Esoterica: "Relaxed Pressure Scheduling" (RPS) sets up daily goals and actions in keeping with the free flow and happenstance nature of creative work. Knowing when to get off the wagon is as valuable as knowing when to get back on. Artists need to develop personal systems of self-management and self-reliance that take into account an understanding of their own metabolism and capabilities. Arming oneself thusly is as important as knowing what happens when mixing red and blue.