I’m always interested in how creative people structure their time, so I thought I’d share a little bit about how I work. Especially since what so many people see is just the finished product, and that is just the tip of the iceberg!
My artwork takes a long time to do. Not as long as, say, a photorealistic oil portrait, but it is very process heavy and needs a lot of protected time, as it is not work that I can start, stop and come back to. If the acrylic dries on the plate, it is unusable for my process, and if I try to rush through and end up with an off-center or flawed print, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board, or literal printing plate, to start over again.
So, printing the art itself is something I usually batch over one or two dedicated days of the week in my studio and in that time I can print roughly four pieces depending on the size and level of detail. (It also helps with cat control, as the kittens still aren’t allowed in there and I don’t like having to shut them out more than necessary. One, it makes me feel bad and two, they bang on the walls and rattle the door. I think the house panther is about three “aha” moments from unlatching the doorknob.)
When I’m not actively printing or hand-embellishing completed prints – either for my own work or commissions from others, I do a LOT of research. I would say that a typical week is 50 percent creating the art, 40 percent research, and ten percent admin/marketing/operations which includes things like invoicing, cleaning my work space, looking for and responding to promotional opportunities, updating digital platforms and responding to commission requests (not all of these tasks need to be done each week, thankfully.)
My days are structured like any other workday, usually getting started around 9-10 am and finishing around 6 pm for family and TV time with the kittens.
I sometimes work over the weekends, and I’m always reading on my off-hours, and some of that is research time as well. On weekends I try to recharge and work around the house or go see shows by other artists for inspiration. But during the pandemic I have been mostly at home.
Because my work centers on the Pine Curtain Project, I am always on the hunt for compelling vintage images with compelling stories, ideally that contribute not only to my own family history, stories and memories, but also to the larger cultural history of East Texas. As I wrote in a previous post, I’m focusing on a few main topics this year, which is not to say that other images and themes aren’t included as well. But, I am finding so much information just on these topics, that I am very busy researching, reading, cataloging and analyzing information.
Combining my art so closely with writing and research complicates things in some ways, but in most ways, I feel that it leads to a more rewarding experience for me as the artist, and hopefully for the viewer as well. As a person who likes a little more structure in the day, I feel that this project lends itself well to providing that structure while still leaving plenty of room for the flexibility needed for the creative process to do its thing.