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A Working Artist

Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.

Stephen DeStaebler

 

When I was nine years old, I started piano lessons. My teacher said that I had to practice EVERY day. One hour, every day. I did. After five years, I could read complex music, play Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, and Strauss. It was not because I have musical talent (I don’t) but because I practiced every day. Musicians and dancers know that they need to practice every day but for some reason that routine is not followed by most visual artists. Painting also needs to be done every day.

 

How many times have you said, “I don’t have time for art today, but I will spend all day Saturday painting.” Then what happens when Saturday rolls around? Suddenly everyone wants your attention, the phone rings, the groceries need to be bought, the dog needs to be walked and your plan to spend all day painting goes by the wayside. What if you had someone who said: “you have to practice your art EVERY day.” Imagine that I am that person.

 

When I say that you need to paint every day that doesn’t mean that it has to be for a long period of time. Small increments of work done consistently add up to more than sporadic marathons of working. You need to make a schedule of what you will accomplish for the day and the first thing on that schedule should be “ART”. For me, first thing in the morning is the best. If I do other things first, they tend to fill up the entire day and by the time I have time for painting, I am worn out and am no longer creative. I plan one hour at the beginning of each day to work on art. That does not mean framing or working on my website, it means actual painting time. Sometimes, I may go on longer than an hour. That’s good, but the minimum I do each day is one hour. If you put in one hour a day, that is 30 hours a month or 365 hour a year. A painting generally takes me 13 hours to complete so at the rate of one hour a day, I should be able to complete 28 paintings. That is a one person show. Now all of those paintings may not be masterpieces. For most artists, making good art depends upon making lots of art. The aim should be for quantity of work. The quality will develop over time.

 

Now I am challenging you to paint EVERY day. Do it, and see what happens.

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