Wednesday, April 12, 2006
225 Paintings, Give or Take
Blue Roses, 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x12
In 2005 I completed approximately 225 frame worthy, gallery or show quality paintings. This does not include the bad ones, the ones that I sand back down to reuse the panel. And, as I mentioned yesterday, my work is mostly pretty small. But still, it's true, I am quite productive as a painter. When someone seems astonished that I can complete so much work I make a joke about making up for lost time, referring to the fact that I did not paint for a good fifteen years. I feel kind of embarrassed, frankly, that the paintings have so easily flowed out of me for the last few years. Like I am cheating and that I should be struggling and sweating and crying over each one. There have been a few that have made me do those things, but for the most part, many of my paintings seem to paint themselves.
But really, there are a number of reasons that I can get so much done.
1. My energy level. I am a tortoise, a slow and steady kind of girl. I seldom, if ever, get all frenetically busy, I just work constantly, and continually throughout each day. When I was younger, this could easily turn into total slugdom, but after having kids I was forced to redirect my slow energy into actually accomplishing things. Even if it was just laundry, cooking, and changing diapers. Working at a slow pace also seems to prevent me from burning out on most things, with the exception of cleaning the bathrooms.
2. I have discipline (well, most of the time) and work every day. When I began painting, I decided that I would only work during the day, while the kids were at school. That gives me about 8 hours to get things done. If I am preparing for a show I may work on weekends or in the evenings, but that doesn't happen too often. School holidays and vacations throw me off a bit, but as the kids are getting older, I can get in a few hours of work when they are home, if I have properly bribed them. Lately however, the bright and shiny new computer that Doug got me for Christmas has really put a wrench in the works. I often spend many hours each morning on the computer when I should be in my studio. However, that problem has been neutralized by:
3. Getting better at painting. At first I did struggle over each painting and managed to waste a lot of time overworking everything. As I became more confident and my instincts improved I was able to more efficiently get the piece to the right place, without going over, well most of the time anyway. Last summer, I noticed that instead of working for hours at the easel, I'd procrastinate for awhile and then go the easel and immediately crank out a really good piece. Spending less time at the easel, creating better work was good because it gave me more time to have:
4. Organization. I have already covered this incredibly boring topic here.
5. How I paint. The manner in which I handle my imagery and the technical aspect of how I paint really helps me get a lot accomplished. As I work in glazes, I can only work briefly on each piece, each day and then it has to dry overnight, then I work on it the next day, and I do this for a few days, maybe more for the troublesome ones. So I work in batches, anywhere from five to ten pieces (depending on size), in a batch, per week. You see how this can really add up. And by eliminating almost every detail from my imagery, things can go really quickly. I am just realizing this one now, because recently I have been working on cityscapes, which despite being simplified as a scene, still have so much more detail than the landscapes and I am spending much more time on them.
I was surprised at how much work I produced last year. I had deadlines and knew I had to complete x number of paintings at any given time, but I wasn't really paying attention to the big picture. That's also why my productivity can be somewhat embarrassing. I'm just painting, meeting my obligations and deadlines and doing what I can to express myself in my work. Counting it all up takes the fun out of it and makes me seem way cooler than I actually am.
Now, if I could just sell all of those paintings....