You enter your studio with the idea of creating a really good painting.
Your start is good and you are pleased. Lunch time comes and you take a break. When you return you see some places in the painting that need to change.
After some time rearranging the shapes you realize the painting doesn’t resemble anything you intended.
After some more changes you finally decide the painting is toast…really burned toast.
Your painting has just died in front of your eyes and a whole day of work is lost.
This is what I call…Death in the studio.
Tomorrow do you try to salvage the painting? Or, do you slash it into a million tiny pieces.
(I vote for the slashing it into a million tiny pieces as it helps sometimes to be violent.)
Has your role as an artist has come to an end? Perhaps you think…“I’m no good at this so I best just quit?”
As you pull out another canvas you wonder if this piece will also end up as tiny pieces not even good enough for collage.
There is an answer to this problem but one we seldom take. It is to find the timer you stored in the drawer years ago and place it on the table next to your easel.
You test it and since it is so old you are amazed it still works.
You bravely set the timer for 45 minutes.
You put out your colors , pick up a large brush and bravely push start. Your focus is keen as you allow the paint to glide across the canvas. No time to think if the painting will be good, sellable or even decent.
At the end of the 45 minutes (that actually felt like 5), you sit back and take in what you created. To your surprise, the colors are crisp and it feels fresh. It has no resemblance to the million pieces in your trash can.
You didn’t have time to over work or over think. When you didn’t know what to do you didn’t keep moving the brush around on the canvas in hopes something miraculous would happen.
Joseph, a very accomplished artist, was in my workshop this past summer. He was totally frustrated because he felt stuck and that his art was stagnant.
It is good to know this happens to most artists…if not all artists. Growth can be painful but being a seasoned artist Joseph knew he had to rethink his art.
We had done a series of timed paintings on Thursday that proved to be valuable for the entire class. On Friday, the last day of the workshop, everyone was working hard on their final piece to be critiqued later that afternoon.
Joseph decided he would do his final piece as a timed piece. He selected 30 minutes. He was focused and he was ready.
To his delight and amazement his painting turned out to be his best. It was fresh, his neutrals beautifully done and his values were perfection.
The class witnessed this intense breakthrough and we were all insanely happy for Joseph.
Slaving over a painting for days doesn’t mean it is better because you have worked hard and long. Sometimes it is best to trust yourself to do timed paintings.