Sunday, February 21, 2010

Your Studio - Better at Home?

The Canadian painter Robert Genn recently sent round an article wherein he strongly recommended that a young man have his studio in his home in order to overcome his procrastination. His argument for this stance is that everything is right there so you have no excuse to not get to work. Mr. Genn spoke of how, while his house was full of company at holiday time, he escaped to the garage to paint.

My reaction to this story was a mixture of envy and longing. I tried to picture myself doing the same while entertaining company. Nope, I don't think I could get away with it. Is this a gender divide or am I just not brave enough to put my own desires ahead of my perceived responsibilities to other people?

Mr. Genn did have the good grace to send a reply to my reaction, and I quote, "You got me there Laurel, men do get away with murder". So I think my suspicion that men have an advantage working from home is correct. The dust bunnies and piles of dirty dishes just don't call out to them in the same way. I am sure I am generalizing somewhat and there are male artists who also have trouble ignoring the other tasks at home and women who are better at using their time, but I don't think I am alone in my difficulties working at home. When other jobs are not the issue, my own inherent laziness sometimes surfaces and I find myself making a sandwich or calling a friend or trolling the internet.

I recently decided to rent a studio outside my home. I am not sure whether this will improve my productivity, but I suspect it will. Maybe it is just me, but I often find myself putting in a load of laundry or cooking something when I had every intention of working on a painting. My feeling is that having a space solely dedicated to my work will mean more painting gets done.

Don't get me wrong, I love my work and spend hours and days happily immersed in it, but interruptions are sometimes frequent, especially when the three other people I live with are around.

How about you? Do you have a studio outside of your home, or do you create your art at home?

By the way, if you do not already receive the really terrific twice weekly letters from Robert Genn, you can subscribe at and be sure to search through the backlog of clickbacks from the past as there has been some terrific information discussed.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Avoiding Perfectionism

Recently, I was excited to finally meet and have a photo shoot with my very first famous person. I wasn't so much nervous about meeting a celebrity, but I was anxious about getting all the reference information I would need and thoughts about the potential benefit to my career were buzzing in the back of my mind.

I had worked long and hard to first contact and then convince this person to agree to pose for me. You would think, given the importance I had assigned to this painting, that I would immediately and unceasingly work on it. However, I have had a surprisingly hard time with the progress of this piece and have found all kinds of excuses to do anything other than work on it.

Fortunately, since the holiday season has ended, the kids have gone back to school and external demands on my time have decreased, I have finally gotten into the groove and back into the studio most days of the week, with the painting progressing well.

How have I overcome the perfectionism that was stalling my progress? I have decided to do an adequate job and just enjoy the process. Once I start painting, I am in the moment, and no thoughts of grandeur interfere with the process.

Procrastination due to fear of failure is at the heart of most avoidance behavior when it comes to artistic endeavors. I had built up in my mind the extreme importance of creating a masterpiece with this commission. Telling yourself that this painting must rival the work of Rembrandt is a sure way to become frozen with indecision and fear.

So, get into your studio and just do it. No one can predict whether the end result will be amazing or mediocre, but getting in the flow and letting the magic occur will guarantee that you enjoy the process and isn't that really what painting is all about?