20 Things to Do

Submitted by Gary on Sat, 11/03/2012 - 16:41

On those days when the studio light isn't good for painting or the Muses are out to lunch, a few ideas to spend the day productively come to mind. Some of these are things we should be doing anyway but what better excuse than just not being motivated to put in a real day at the easel? Some of the ideas might just get you off dead center and back in the painting groove and some just make you less stressed so that the painting time, when it comes, is more unconstrained. I know that for me, when there are tasks lurking that I regret having to take time to do, the stress implied by those tasks, the procrastination, takes a toll on my creativity. Use the days when you don't feel up to painting for whatever reason to rid yourself of that stress.

Here's my list in the order they came to me:
1. Straighten up the studio and your desk. Reduce clutter.
2. Organize your bookshelf so you can find reference materials when you want them. Art books are so important, make sure you can get to them.
3. Move old files to storage or the recycling center. Do you need all the newsletters from every group you've belonged to since 1965?
4. Take unwanted painting supplies to the local school or senior center for them to get some use out of.
5. Review the paintings stacked around your studio and decide what needs to happen next with each. Some need more work, some just finishing polish, some need to be framed and some recycled. Make decisions, it's empowering!
6. Sketch a new painting idea or two.
7. Draw something from memory to stretch your memory skills.
8. Work on a charcoal underpainting that doesn't require the perfect light.
9. Prepare supports for painting. For me it's a pretty important job and I do 20 or 30 at a time in different sizes.
10. Catch up on correspondence. Update your web site. Write a blog post. Post something on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
11. Fill out an art show entry form and get it submitted. It's sad to waste good painting time because you've put this chore off until the last minute (I know all too well!).
12. Photograph your most recent work. For me there is some setup time to do this so it tends to get put off until desperately needed to enter a show or send work to a gallery. Try to stay ahead of the deadlines.
13. Look through your photos, sketches and studies and try to come up with half a dozen new painting ideas.
14. Do a few small studies that get you loosened up for more serious work when you're in the right mental frame of mind. Just doing the studies often moves you more than anything else can.
15. For those of you that are pastellists: Clean your pastel boxes. You know what I'm talking about. Get rid of the dust, organize the colors. If they're filthy and you can't tell what colors they are try a pastel cleaner like the one from Cherry Art. Just seeing those bright clean colors will put you in the mode to paint with them.
16. Organize and clean your plein air equipment. It's no fun going out to paint and not having supplies you need, paints dried on the palette, your equipment in disarray. For days when the outdoor studio calls, be ready to go on a moments' notice.
17. Check your painting supplies and re-order anything running low. That goes for not only painting supplies but framing if you do your own. I hate when I have a deadline and suddenly realize I'm low on frame sealing tape that I have to order or frame hardware that can take weeks to arrive. There are some disadvantages to not living in a city and that's one. Anticipate what your needs are for upcoming shows and make sure you have frames for everything. For a pastellist who doesn't need to wait for paint to dry, it becomes a little harder to plan on frames. At the last minute I might decide to knock out a 5x7 and then find I don't have a frame suitable for it. Having some time to make an inventory and think out what you might need is a well-spent day in the life of an artist, if you ask me. It's another way to reduce stress.
18. Go to a museum or gallery, visit another artist's studio. Soak in some inspiration or ask someone else for help solving a problem.
19. Grab a beverage of choice and sit back in the couch with some of your best or most recent work in front of you and gloat for a bit. You've come a long long way and you deserve some time to appreciate that.
20. Hug your family, dog or significant other and go out for a walk someplace inspirational. Spending time in the places you love is always a good thing for your art unless perhaps it's a bar. Spending time with loved ones strengthens who we are and our sense of security. Unless you like to paint out of angst, that's a good thing!