Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting in a Rhythm in the Studio

One of the hardest things to control is studio time. Since I homeschool my highschool junior, I spend many hours each week working on academics. I teach an AP level chemistry class to a small group of homeschooled students, and I estimate that I spend at least twenty hours per week just on it. Beyond that, I help my son with his online calculus course and work alongside him learning Latin. This semester, my son is taking two classes at our community college. This means there is suddenly studio time available during the week that I haven't had for many years! Now Tuesday and Thursday mornings are reserved for ME! Tomorrow is the first day, and I want to make good use of the time. I find myself feeling that I should be doing chemistry, however, I'm telling myself loudly that studio time is sacrosanct. I'll just need to work around it.

Here's my approach to this new found studio time:

  1. Set a routine. Getting into a rhythm is critical. I have 3.5 hours blocked out -- no scheduling other things into that time! Everything else should wait. 
  2. Turn on the music. I find that while I can work without music, there's something about the right music playing that resonates with the creative brainwaves. The right music changes with the project. I tend to associate certain pieces with specific artworks from my past. Now whenever I hear them again, I'm transported back to working on those projects. I'm always searching for new music that seems art worthy. 
  3. Have a clear idea of where to begin. I've deliberately left several projects in midstream, with a clear idea of where to jump in. First is my next Ring a Week (#3), shown here. I cleverly worked on this one at the same time as #2. So I have parts waiting for assembly and firing. All the hardest part is done. Somehow just getting going breaks the ice and gets the creative energy flowing. Then I can segue into other projects.
  4. Keep a clean studio. Yes, it gets messy as I work. At some point it can cross over to being a detriment though, when I can't find whatever tool I need. If I just take a few minutes at the end of a session to put things away, the studio is much more enticing the next round.
  5. Utilize deadlines. I'm good under pressure. Give me too much time and I'll web surf it away. But a hard deadline will get me focusing intently. Reminder to self: final Master Muse project is due next week. 
  6. Keep a sketchbook of ideas. When the muse isn't speaking to me, I pull out the sketchbooks, either to draw or to peruse. I also use my Books of Attraction as jumping off points when all else fails.
  7. Improvise. Don't get blocked by some minor issue. So what if I don't have some needed item? Think of something else. Some of the best ideas come from having to make do. But keep a list of needed things and get them when I can. Having a big toolbox opens up more possibilities.
  8. Showing up is half the battle. Just do it. The repetition will start to become routine; the creative juices will start to flow. At the worst, go clean or make small components to use later. But get in there and do something.
  9. Keep a studio log. This record of what I get done each day is invaluable. I hate to see a blank day, so I'll use even tiny time increments to do little things to list. Every bit helps. So far, I use a notebook, one page per day, with a simple list of art-related accomplishments. However, I'm considering updating to a more involved log with construction notes, progress photos, etc.