Posts Tagged ‘increasing productivity’

Limiting Options to Raise Productivity

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Last time I wrote about combatting burnout by trying something new.  I love having many different media available to work with, and developing the confidence to use each one comfortably.  Each medium has its strengths as well as its drawbacks.  So it would seem counterintuitive to regularly limit my options in using them.

But the truth is that I have a tendency to spread myself too thin.  We used to call that being a Jack of All Trades, which, of course, can easily preclude becoming a master of any.  With too many options at my disposal, I find I actually accomplish less overall than when I concentrate on a single medium.

The first quarter of this year, I am teaching watercolor classes.  So during this period I’ve decided that the focus of my own work should also be on watercolor to explore a variety of techniques to broaden the repertoire of my skills.  When I attempt a variety of techniques in, say, oils and pastels, at the same time, can I gain enough practical experience in the multiple media to benefit me much in any of them in the long run?  Probably not as rapidly as if I focus on developing skills in one medium at a time.

Similarly, if I divide my practice time among landscapes, portraiture, and still life, my visual attention will be scattered.  Whereas, if I focus on landscapes alone, I can attune my eyes to notice perspective, value and saturation changes, atmospheric effects, shape differentiation, and so on.  If I focus on figurative work, I am more inclined to notice how the angles, planes, and variations from “the norm” reveal the identity and attitude of an individual, as well as consciously observing the hue and temperature changes in various skin tones.

Although I may select more than one subject to use as examples for my students, my own practice and production should reflect the focus of whichever studies (both subject matter and medium) that I’ve selected to concentrate on, for my own benefit, at any given time.  In this way my attention isn’t so scattered, and I’m less likely to become sidetracked into less productive directions.

Studying the Studio

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

Almost two months on crutches this summer has provided ample time for a reality check and a reevaluation of what’s important in an art studio.

Although I had expected that the enforced “downtime” would increase my art productivity, I quickly realized that my greatest productivity would not be in quite the areas I had anticipated.

The key word was accessibility.

I had considered my compact art studio (a repurposed guest bedroom) to be space efficient and accessible for storing and retrieving my supplies and finished work. Limited mobility, however, made me realize that it isn’t efficient to have to move furniture to access corner storage recesses, to move a standing easel to get into the matting closet, to use a stepladder to reach the top of the drying rack, or to relocate frames to open the taboret drawers. Oops.

The first change was to order a portable table easel, which I could use on any table (and adjacent to virtually any chair) in the house. In conjunction with that, I downsized my large watercolor palette to a more portable size and design. And, though I was able to produce some small pieces, I resigned myself to postponing such tasks as matting and framing until I could move around more freely.

My increased productivity actually appeared in areas I had previously relegated to secondary and “support” pursuits. These included researching and ordering supplies, planning marketing strategies, preparing my ebook, Elements of Great Composition, for publishing via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing, through Amazon), and writing various marketing and publicity materials. In-person classes were replaced by on-line mentoring.

As I gradually become more mobile, I’m in the process of mentally redesigning my studio space. My goals include:
– Doing away with …any sub-professional materials that take up valuable space, …all sub-par work that cannot be redeemed, …general paper clutter, …and tchotchkes/gadgets/miscellany that serve no beneficial purpose.
– Relocating stock to increase ease of access.
– Maintaining inviting work areas to encourage spontaneous creativity.
– Creating an “inspiration” area to set up still life arrangements with controllable lighting.

The changes won’t all happen immediately. But unless I establish specific goals to strive for now, it’s very unlikely that my hopes of making the studio more user friendly will happen at all in the foreseeable future. Who was it who said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”? I can’t let crutches be my excuse,… or allow my excuses to become a crutch!