Art Gab - learning the ropes
February 03,2010
Have a life and Paint too!!!

Getting into the studio and simply starting to paint is the toughest part...especially for women (and sometimes men) with family and household responsibilities. Once that first stroke is down…the rest just seems to pour out…but it's just finding that time! Those darned 'never ending' pesky chores around the house and of course ongoing needs to be handled for other family members…like being #1, swimming, piano lessons…can you relate? I find myself heavily into this category…and to complicate matters…we're renovating...with drywall dust everywhere…confusion and mess…and last but not least…the excitement of a brand new art studio…for ME! So it's the good with the bad…what can I say? I'll live with it!☺ I know I'm not in this time shortage alone...every artist I talk to seems to be immersed in life...other than art...and a few of the lucky ones...or perhaps highly organized ones...have figured out a method or devised a plan to actually produce paintings! I take my hat off to you. You know who you are! I have been struggling to make painting a priority lately and actually feel that I painted more when I first began than now…even with a bit more experience under my belt. Having said that I am not convinced that there isn't a way to both get essential chores and family life issues met...and at the same time become a successful producing artist. I refuse to die until I get this mastered!

About 10 years ago I gave a short speech, which demonstrated a simple time management concept easily adaptable by anyone. I wanted to demonstrate it in a way that people would remember so it went something like this...

I arrived at Toastmasters with a large red plastic box of wild household gadgets...a pipe wrench, a fork, an elastic band, a cup of marbles, an ornament, a hair brush, a small hair clip, a large plastic container, a coffee pot...etc. I'm sure you get the picture. Just about anything I could rummage up in short notice, ranging in size from large to very small items. Included in this random collection was a tall jug of cold water.

Then I proceeded to shock everyone and dumped the large box of gadgets onto the table with a loud ~crash~ (just to make sure I grabbed their attention). Then slowly began the speech referencing each piece on the table to various different tasks. i.e. the hair brush reminded me to call for family hair appointments, the clothes pins reminded me to hand wash a blouse and pick up laundry soap, the envelope reminded me to mail a cheque, the tap reminded me to water the garden, the clock reminded me to reset the clock to reflect the time change, the cordless mouse reminded me to check my email, the book reminded me to read a story to my son, the whistle reminded me that I had to gather the soccer gear…and the list goes on… These few dozen small items each represented small 'time eating' tasks I wished to accomplish. They weren't necessarily priority items, or arduous task, but they nevertheless had to be done...often over and over and over! Do you know what I mean? Like putting gas in the car a million times! No sooner do you get certain jobs done and they need to be redone shortly after! A pet peeve for some us. So, during my speech I addressed each widget as I plopped them back into the plastic box and watched the box slowly fill up close to the top. It didn't take long!

Then I began to discuss the large items remaining on the table. My blender represented a large painting to be finished and framed for an upcoming show, my camera…a photo shoot I'd been putting off, a thick book…my commitment to study new techniques to enhance my art arsenal, a telephone represented many calls to be made to students and galleries, a power drill to represent items to complete renovations on my art studio. These were large projects I planned to begin or move forward on, or goals I intended to achieve within a given period of time. Meaningful endeavors to align myself with MY PURPOSE. The bottom line is recognizing I have to set regular, uninterrupted increments of this precious commodity called time, aside for things truly important to ME, requiring Important tasks I want to achieve in my life time!

As I verbally accounted for each of the large items and began dropping them into the box on top of the small items it became apparent that not very many of them would fit. In fact, not many at all! The box was so cluttered with small items there was no room for the important stuff!

So I dumped the box out on the table again…and this time I placed the large items in first. Once that was achieved I was able to fit all of the small items in as well. Then poured the water over the top and labeled it RELAXING time.

I've noted that anything can get done given commitment, persistence and consistent baby steps.

I've also noted that if you put big things ahead of the small things by putting planned time aside for them daily…the small things will still fit in and get done. The reverse does not work.

This may not seem like rocket science but rather common sense…but it was an 'ah ha' moment for me and something that I am going to apply to my art business☺ I just thought you might also find this useful. Would love to hear what YOU do to get organized, paint regularly and still have an organized home life. Any tips? Happy Painting.
Sandra Van Den Ham
Shuswap Artist and Mom☺


Mom and Shuswap Artist

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