Art Scheduling that Helped me, and What I Learned01·08·2021
Sooooo, I have my first big boy group show up really soon. It opens on August 3rd, and I have spent the better part of June and July working on 6 pieces about my experience during COVID. I’ll get into the specifics of how I did that with my art sometime soon, but today I’d like to walk you through what my daily life was like while making art like this under a decent deadline. If the daily schedule of an emerging artist who is still developing their practice interests you, please read on!
9AM- I’m gonna be real, I really just tried to be awake by this point. I’m bad at remembering to charge my phone overnight, so my 6:45, 7, and 7:30 alarms usually end up not going off as my phone becomes a useless brick by morning. Anyways, once I’m awake and cognizant, I decide in the moment if I’m walking or driving to the new studio space (more on that right away), and make a pact with myself to start painting by 10. After brushing my teeth, finding something to call breakfast, and doing a little tidy, I am outta my house and on my way to the ol basement.
9:30AM- upon arrival at my very fancy and official studio (it’s a spare room in my friend’s apartment… but I watch his cat while he’s gone for work, so it’s an even exchange), I like to make a cup of coffee with the pourover thing my friend has, and then before I even pick up a paintbrush, I do at least 20 minutes of yoga and journal my heart out for a little bit. The artwork I’ve been making is SUPER emotional, and I needed to set strict rules for myself in order to keep my mental health in check at all times. Yoga and journaling every morning before painting ensured I took mental stock for the day and started working in the best possible headspace.
Right before painting, I would write a little bit about what I wanted to focus on in my painting that day, and make some loose “goals” to keep me on track as I worked. Then, bam! Painting begins for the day.
12 PM- after painting for the rest of the morning, I make myself take a break at 12. Usually I would chat with a friend online, go outside and exercise, or play with the cat. Lunch too!
1PM- The break for an hour generally left me feeling super ready to tackle the afternoon, and so I would! I was usually lucky enough to find my flow shortly after starting, and if focusing was too tough, I would try to change something about my environment or what I was listening to to keep it up. How long I stayed depended on the day-- I was never hard on myself, but I knew I had a deadline, so I tried to paint for a least a few more hours after lunch, and sometimes I would straight up black out in hyperfocus and regain consciousness after painting for like 5 hours in a row. I would take whatever I got, and it ended up working out, so that’s pretty cool. After I started to feel in my gut that I was done (not that I just needed a break), I would start wrapping up and reflect on the amount of work I got done that day.
I learned a lot from over a month of doing this pretty much every day, and I’m so happy with it. I learned that I, like many other neurodivergent people, work best with a loose-in-some-ways-but-structured-in-others schedule. I can also definitely confirm that a separate work space makes a big difference in my productivity, as while making art from home has been lovely, my home is filled with distractions, and it’s harder to separate “work” from “home” when home is where I work. I’m so thankful for the space I have for the foreseeable future! The last major thing I learned while going through this process is that art is absolutely a tool I use to heal, and integrating my art with other mental health practices has been one of the best ideas I’ve had in a long time. I’ll certainly continue to do it- I think my art looks its best when I use it in this way!