Thursday, April 2, 2009

Painting for the Day: "Your Fortune is On the Line"

"Your Fortune is On the Line" ... oil ... 14"x18" ... SOLD

Painting in the red background was kind of phosphene-inducing; I had to keep looking away every few minutes and readjust my eyes. It was worth it to get to the dessert, though! Painting the ribbon, the wire and the fortune cookie was a real treat.

I feel very fortunate. I love my life and I love that I am able to paint and make a living. I do wonder sometimes why it is so hard to get to the easel some days, to do what I love!

So this is what's on my mind today: Time Management.
I don't have anything really clever or insightful to say; but I'm hoping you do.

  • How do you manage your painting time?
  • How do you juggle creating with all the other must-do's?
Every now and then I read an article about one well known successful artist or another, and this phrase will be in there: "...the artist paints 12-14 hours a day...". Hmmmm. Forgive me for going all Seth Meyers (SNL), but REALLY? Painting 12-14 hours a day, every day. Hmmmm. Well, it's true I spend a lot of time in the studio, everyday but Saturday, from about 7 am to 7 pm, with a couple 15 minute breaks for a snack, and sometimes (like last night) I'll come back to the studio after dinner and be in here from 9 to midnight or more. But actually painting for 12-14 hours? REALLY? I wish! I really do. Painting can be invigorating, but also exhausting. (If (I said IF!!!) I can get 6 really good hours in at the easel, that's a pretty good day. The tally for this week (for ACTUAL painting hours): 18. That an average of 2.5 hours per each of 7 day. Pretty sad. Well, okay then. I'll shoot for 30 next week.)

And for the other 6-8 hours? Well, you know: you've got a long list of must do's, too. Some art related: prep canvas, get framing, package, deliver, post; contact your galleries, buyers; enter shows; photograph art work, update your blog, your website, your mailing list. And the day to day must do's: bills, errands, house keeping, shopping, cleaning. And I know many of you also have one or more jobs to go to, and family to be with. How do you do it all?

The one single thing that seems to work for me is this: First thing in the morning, plant myself in front of the easel, and pick up a brush. What works for you?

Good wishes to all this week, especially
Steven Walker (whom I admire immensely) who is shipping a big parcel of paintings this week... and who undoubtedly paints 20 hours a day plus teaching his classes.


  1. As you might guess from this prompt comment, I spend more time staring at my computer than at a blank sheet of paper. And more of my computer time is spent on InDesign than Photoshop, as it happens. What gets me started painting is telling somebody, either in an email or on my blog, that that's what I'm going to do.

  2. First things first.... this painting.... I love!!

    Manage painting time? Hmmmm! I manage to spend a lot of my time thinking about creating art. Time spent creating? It depends on the day. I tend to let it happen unless I have a deadline. The Brutus Buckeye mosaic I did for Ohio State seemed to suck tons of creative energy out of me. I'm happy to be painting again and that keeps me in my studio for longer periods of time. 20 hours a day? No, but I paint almost everyday and it feeds my soul.... that's what counts!

  3. Love the painting, love your sense of humor, love the way you share your secrets to painting success. hugs!

  4. Good Post. One thing I have found for me is that I need to make it easy to be creative. That means having paper, pens, paints, pencils etc. handy and ready to use....Supplies always set up in the studio, a backpack packed and ready to go out and paint, another packed and ready for teaching and a few supplies in the purse. Then it is easy to take advantage of the opportunities that come up.

  5. Great painting !
    been on the line is us / me when and with whatever I need to do ,unfortunately it doesn't always work that way. Procrastination is my enemy and having deadlines or goals helps me. Having someone close by doing the same thing can infuse me with proper time management. Being able to look at oneself with honesty helps and accept criticisms from others because they have your best interest.

  6. First, another fantastic painting! Compelling image, dramatic color, strong composition and a great title! I can tell this is going to be a personal favorite of mine.

    Secondly, managing my painting time (excellent question). Three days a week my son goes to preschool for half a day. That plus maybe a half a day for one day on the weekend is all I get. Total time at the easel for the week is maybe 9 hours tops (as long as there isn't a pressing Dr. appointment or other urgent matter going on during that time). I jealously guard that time because there is so little of it. At night, I blog, update Etsy, answer emails, ship paintings and do all the other business related things. My house isn't sparkling clean, it's tidy but not spotless, there is always laundry, dishes, bills and toys to put away.

    There is always something that needs to be done and I never have enough time to fit it all in. I get overwhelmed but I do what I can in the time I have. Paint is always a priority and my family knows that I am a much happier person if I get that time, plus, I am more focused on them when we are together. So, what works for me is making painting a priority. (And it helps to have a friend to paint with too because we keep each other motivated.)

  7. Hi fellow art bloggers-- I thought this might be a topic on which we'd all have an opinion! Thank you all for your thoughts.

    Charlene, thanks; as much as I am addicted to my computer, it can be a real time sucker! I like your idea of stating your painting intentions in type and sticking to it.

    Manon, thanks! I like this painting, too. So maybe if we can get a little done everyday, that make sit happen? I'd like to think so.

    Joanne, you're absolutely right. Having all our tools set up and ready to go, in a place where it is Always set up in the studio (or in a quick pick-me-up bag for the plein air artist), is essential.

    Dominique, I like the idea of having painting buddies... since I've been posting on a blog I think I've been more productive, because I feel like we're all waiting see each other's next works of art.

    Kim, thank you! You get an amazing amount of work done given your tight time schedule. Yes, making painting a priority I think is the only way to assure it will happen.

  8. Great painting, love the title, love the painting, sunlight and shadows, gets me every time.
    Time management,
    5:30 am get ready for work
    6:20am leave for work
    7:00pm get home from work (if I do not work late)
    7:00pm till about 10:00pm time with wife and kids, two girls in dance one boy in football,
    Homework, music practice (for the kids), food, pay bills, fix things around the house………..
    So from the 10:00pm till 5:30am I get to sleep and paint. I have to work from a list. That’s the best I can do right now.
    I hope to finish 100 paintings this year----- I am behind.

  9. Steve Conrad, I was thinking about you when I wrote this, as I know you paint at night. I have no doubt that you'll make your goal of 100.

    Many years ago I was working a day job (8-5) and a night job (6-10 or 11). The night job was at a restaurant, so as my shift would wind down I would mix myself a giant cappuccino over ice and drink it before I left. Then I would go home and paint until about 2-3 in the morning. This went off and on for a number of years, and I did manage to prepare for several solo shows in this insane fashion. I don’t think I could do that anymore, though.

  10. wow, you must have a wonderful and unique sense of humor. I just looked at you blog for the first time. wonderful wonderful wonderful

  11. Susan, Thank you! What a nice compliment, really. I've heard 'wicked' and 'twisted' about my sense of humor before, but I'll upgrade my press release to 'wonderful and unique'.

  12. Hi R,

    What a gorgeous painting, and provocative idea. I rarely clock my hours, but my painting schedule depends on what type of work I'm doing, and the day. I have had clients arrive in the morning on non-teaching days, and found that to be far from productive. I save the morning for routine work and errands, and start painting if I can after lunch. I don't see the job as dogged dedication, but as my delight. Plus I wander. I paint, I read, I paint, I eat, I paint, I make coffee, I paint, I go for a walk, etc. Lately I paint a lot. And that makes me feel happier in the non-painting times.

    Both your work and your blog are great.


  13. OK, R. Here I am at almost 2 am...part of the life...When I taught full time, I used to paint at night. Now I wander about like this when I can't sleep...Ideas wake me and I just get up and do some art thing..sometimes this is when I read art monographs, sometimes I will paint for 3-4 hours, or do this blog.

    Now, I paint every day at least 4-5 hours. I treat it like a job but think of it as sustenance. I did not retire per se, just switched over to being my own boss. The hours usually are consecutive, but life does get in the way at times.LOL Not necessarily bad but distracting.
    I found that painting with others at least once or twice gives me some routine and keeps me from becoming a recluse. I am finding that having a home studio is definitely a plus.
    Setting a goal, making the habit and treating it with a seriousness of purpose is an attitude I have cultivated when I left my day job teaching art.. I have been painting daily for over two years and now it is like food...must have it. This blogging is feeding me too. I know that people are responding to my work with care and intelligence and kind interest. We are each other's cheerleaders,teachers and companions through what could be an otherwise lonely career choice.
    I absolutely love this painting and the title! Thanks for opening up the dialogue.

  14. R, First I want to thank you for leaving a comment on my blog which made me check out yours. Your paintings are so beautifully rendered. My favorite paintings are those that are graphic in nature. You are by far one of the better painters I have come across so far. Will you trade links with me?

  15. I love the drama and color of this painting (and the coffee/newspaper earlier posts--wow, they are so great). Love your sense of humor, too.
    As for painting 12 hours a day...nah, I don't believe it either. But all the activities you named are important and necessary to the process and undoubtedly a part of the day for most of us. If I recall correctly, Robert Genn calls it "priming the pump".
    I visited a gallery last week where I inquired about one of the painters (a seemingly very prolific artist) and was very surprised to hear that she only paints 3-4 days a month. It is all or nothing for her, everything is alla prima, and after doing nothing but cranking out paintings for those days, she is exhausted and has to take a long break. Yikes! I think it is fascinating how we all have a different approach. Clearly, we have to honor who we are and factor in the inevitable obligations and interruptions. I liken it to music--even the most upbeat tempo must contain pauses; otherwise we would just call it noise, right?
    thanks for sharing your work, your humor and your tips,

  16. Well... I have an amazingly short attention span, which may be why watercolors work well for me. There are many stages to a watercolor painting, which lets me do things in between. I get up in the morning, get my family ready for work and school, then off to my job at the dentists office, then I pick up my daughter from school and then for the rest of the day I alternate between my paintings, my computer, my housecleaning, making dinner, painting some more, helping with homework, running, tubs, more computer.... well, you get the idea. I have no idea how many actual hours I spend painting, but I do know that I enjoy them all!
    p.s. I love this painting!! =)

  17. i love this painting an amazing/unique piece. .
    Great sense of humor Mr R..

  18. Hey, R! Gorgeous painting. I'd kill for that red. Ok. First, I had to look up phosphene and think about that for a while... then have more coffee; try to put pantyhose on a moving target (mom)...take the cat to the vet, mom to the hairdresser's, grocery shop, fix lunch, prep dinner, compile taxes, yada yada. No painting yet today! I remember the days of mullti-tasking and painting...i just seem to have misplaced them. I make a list in the evening, then throw it out about mid day. : ) Excellent topic!

  19. Time management must relate to many factors of lifestyle and art style, I think. I love your work, it is a contemporary realist style I love, I think I will learn so much just keeping up with your blog.

  20. I love your art work, and I enjoyed visiting your blog. Would you consider exchanging art blog links?

  21. Last night my husband and I went out for a great Chinese meal. At the end, we got our fortune cookies. Mine said "you are next in line for a promotion at your firm."

    Since I am a self-employed artist, we both thought that it was pretty hilarious. I balance part time teaching (online teaching) and painting mostly full time. I find that keeping a pretty steady schedule gets me into the studio mostly every day. I have to help my online students develop time management skills, it helps me to follow my own advice.

    Being away from my painting makes me anxious to get back.

  22. What a beautiful painting! Love the wrinkles on the cloth.
    I was just thinking yesterday that the actual time I spend painting is about 2 hours out of a single sitting of 4 hours. The problem is I get distracted easily while waiting for the paint to dry. lol

  23. Unique painting and beautiful like all your other paintings. Mmmm time management, I like to paint with a lot of breaks, I find it helps to come back to a painting with fresh eyes and a fresh cup of coffee. I'm glad that I have found your blog, you touch on some interesting subjects and it is good to hear other artists opinions too.

  24. R, Thanks so much for the link. I am honored. I linked you as well. As far as getting to the easel more, I find every excuse not to get there.

  25. Barbara,
    I started logging my time a few years ago in response to the repeated question form viewers, how long does it take you to do a painting? (I checked my long and this one looks like about 16 hours over 7 different non consecutive days; I think it might have actually been more, though).

    I like to keep a note pad by my bed for those nights I wake up with painting ideas. And yes, if I don't paint everyday, I get out of whack.

    Karen, thank you and I would be honored! I've added your link.

    Faye, Thanks for the compliments! I love painting things that give people a laugh. That's quite a story about the alla prima painter-- just shows it takes all types.

    Lauren (and Akiko!), Glad I'm not the only one with a short attention span! Sometimes I think I should duct tape my shoes to the floor in front of the easel.

    Irit, thanks! I'm glad you like it! Me too.

    Liz, Thanks! The red is courtesy of Daniel Smith: Pyrrol Red. I love it. A nice bright red with no orange undertones. And your day sounds VERY much like mine today including the stockings, and taking mom-in-law to the hairdresser.

    Sandra, yes, we all have to find our way to work out the time. It's been very enlightening to hear everyone's stories. And thank you, I've linked you!

    Maryann, next time you hear of an opening for an artist on a corporate level, let me know! That would really make me laugh! That's the best fortune cookie for us types ever. Hope you saved it. Every now and then I do a painting with the fortune showing; 20 years ago I did one from my fortune cookie that said: 'Your name will be famous in the future". Still waiting...

    Akiko, thank you for noticing! I was very taken by the red cloth and wanted to get those little folds and wrinkles just right. and about distraction: Distraction is everywhere!!

    Diana, Thanks for your comments and I like some breaks, too. I usually have a half dozen paintings in various stages, so I pick something that matches my current energy level.

  26. Your Fortune is On the Line... One of my fav. Garriott paintings! I love it!

    R. you've got a great rampage of appreciation going on here. And that's what I do when my time to paint is less than stellar (like today). I just go into a rampage of appreciation for whatever I'm grateful for. Like tonite, I'm grateful that there's a gallery hop downtown tonight and I'm going to it.

    As far as an artist painting 12-14 hours... doesn't seem like a very harmonious life.
    What about:
    friends and family time,
    learning time,
    work out time,
    sleep time
    eating time,
    party time,
    potty time... ok, i'm digressing again.

    I just think an artist needs those other things in their life to be a good artist. Not everyone... we do need eccentrics.

    You're most appreciated! D.

  27. And its a SOLD one..Yeeppee...So you lost a client who cares?
    Happy painting!

  28. Boy this really hits home! I'm in front of Photoshop/Dreamweaver more than I'd like to be but it keeps me in paint & canvas, so I shouldn't complain :) I love this piece R - I find the subtle creases in the fabric amazing! Gorgeous work! Thank you for the link :)

  29. Love the unique composition of this one!

    Does dangling a fortune cookie by a string affect the outcome of the fortune inside???


  30. Douglas, As always, so are so spot on: couldn't have summed it up better! Thanks as always for your friendship and good humor!

    Thanks, Irit! You are so right!

    Teresa, me too! But slowly the balance of time is shifting more to the painting. Thanks for the compliments on the fabric!

    Dean, thanks! Ummm...I don't think I have a 'logical' answer for that one... it's more a pun, or series of interlaced puns. When I come up with these compositions, it's really more intuitive.

  31. R, your painting is fabulous (as always!) and this time management issue is an interesting one. It's fun reading how everyone handles it. I probably average 5-6 hours in my studio 4+ days a week. Occasionally I have a plein air day, or a figurative drawing or painting session on another day. A good day with my art is one in which "what's for dinner" doesn't creep into my thoughts...and you blog about it! You're amazing!

  32. Dana, thank you for the compliment and for joining the discussion. I knew you would have a good work ethic! (I've been lagging on the dinner part lately... roasted a turkey last week and just working our way through that.)

  33. I'm endlessly amazed at your painting abilities, R!!!

  34. P.S. So when you do oils, how do you work? Is this alla prima (it seems to detailed to be)? Or is it layers that dried in between? How many layers, how long to dry?

  35. Jala, that is high praise coming from one of my favorite painters! Thanks!!

  36. Hi Jala,
    Thanks for your question!

    I'd love to be an alla prima painter but don't have the knack. I tend to work in layers, and sections, to keep out of my own way (and yeah, I know that breaks a lot of 'rules'). I start with an overall, fairly thin underpainting to lay in the tones and values.

    On a consecutive day, I'll lay a finish coat on one or more 'background' areas, gradually working from back to front over as many days as it takes. I try paint decisively over any given area and be done with it. So, over any given area, usually only two layers total, unless I do a layer or two of transparent glaze over to heighten color. I’ll let wet paint dry at least overnight before painting in another area. This keeps me (mostly) from smudging, smearing, or otherwise mucking everything up with my sleeve or whatever.

    An alkyd medium helps it dry overnight and keeps an even sheen. I also keep at least a half dozen canvases going in a variety of stages; this helps me decide what I have energy for on any given day. Simple backgrounds are good for low energy days.

    The 'Fortune...' painting did have a number of layers on the red background, because I'm pretty new to painting fabric with folds, but I really wanted to get it right, so I kept after it over a number of non-consecutive days.

    The Koi/Pear demo that I posted in March shows the general progression.

  37. LOVE the painting! I think my favorite part is the shadow cast by the wire. Just perfect. But I always love your compositions.

    As for time management--oh, dear, ask someone else! One thing I've learned is that you can't wait to be in the mood or to feel inspired. Painting is a discipline like any other, and if you wish to improve at it, you must practice it regularly. So I make myself sit down whenever I have even a few moments. Sometimes a few moments are all I have, but it adds up.

    I've just finished prepping for a show that opens May 30. I don't have another show scheduled in 2009, so this is the first time in two years I don't have a deadline hanging over my head. I'm a little concerned. I have a lot of ideas I want to explore, but I'm going to have to make a list of goals for myself with mini-deadlines to keep me honest. Or something. :)

  38. Thanks for your input, Kim, and I am SO with you on that. I have to stifle laughter when people ask me if I was 'struck by the muse' or otherwise 'inspired'. It's more like my inner painting-fairy kicking me in the behind saying, "I don't see any painting happening here...Get to it!!"

    Hey, maybe getting another show scheduled is just the thing! I like to always have one ahead of me, too.

  39. Oh my gosh. That's positively brilliant.

  40. I haven't checked in on your blog in a few days and what a treat to come back to! You have such beautiful work here. Love the vivid red and the simplicity of this composition. Your post made me laugh out loud!

  41. Thank you Diahn and Gwen! Glad you like it.


Thank you for your kind comments! They always make my day.