I can procrastinate like no other.
I'll come up with the most elaborated range of excuses not to do my work. I can spend hours "doing research online" and then decide not to start a painting because there's not enough daylight hours left on that day, so why bother even starting it? I can decide that "oh crap, the dog is sitting on my arts supply again so I can't paint today". Or I can get a sudden urge to clean the house right when I'm about to start a really important piece - and there have been times when I had a really clean house...
I know all the excuses. You name it, I’ve probably used it before.
No wonder why routine is such a big component of my day. If I don’t automatize and turn things into habits, nothing (or very little) gets done. And I need to get things done. We all do.
So I thought about starting a new project.
Something to get me into the studio. Something that would make me do the work. Something that wouldn’t leave me with much time to question my work, to question my worth. Something that would silence my inner critic’s voice. And that’s when it hit me: Daily Paintings.
For one month, I would make a painting a day and post the results online, no matter what.
No matter what I thought of my paintings: it was my job to make it, not to judge it.
No matter what was going on around me: unless something was on fire, it could probably wait.
No matter what shinning dangling carrot was awaiting for me online.
No matter what. I would paint.
And I did.
And here are a few things that happened:
- I listened to a lot of Ray Charles. I have this playlist of my favorite Ray's songs and I would play it over and over and over again, for pretty much the entire month of January;
- I started painting with acrylics, but switched to oils about 6 paintings later. Although making a painting a day using oils during winter was probably not the best idea... I mean, I couldn't really open a window and the fumes started to get to me after a while. But I really enjoyed what I was doing with oils, so I kept on going anyway;
- My dog slept on my feet during most of the month and was very much a part of the process;
- I started off with the intention of painting memories, but none of those memories are actually mine;
- Some of the paintings were based on black & white photographs and seeing the reactions on the people who were on those photos when they saw them in colors for the first time made my day!
- I experimented with a lot of sizes: from considerably big (21 x 29”) to fairly small (8 x 6”);
- The painting that took the longest to finished was the one from Jan 14th. It's the one with the little girl sitting on a table with one of her hands on her face, at her birthday party. I spent about 10 hours working on it (not counting the time it took to stretch the canvas, sketch it and mix the paints) and was totally in flow during the process. I could have gone on for much longer, though. That's how much I enjoyed painting it.
- I had the intention of painting only memories, but felt this need to paint people and water and eventually gave in. So the last 10 paintings are of people and water and are tiny: only about 8 x 6";
- I also painted those last 10 canvas black and did the sketches using white colored pencil.
- I would always try to stretch the canvas, do the sketches and mix the paints the day before, so I wouldn't have any excuses for not painting.
- I got a little carried away and ended up also making a drawing a day. I love making portraits, but it's hard to find a model to sit for me so I turned to the next best thing: mugshots. I wanted to draw interesting faces and I sure found a bunch of them on those mugshots... My only rule was that I would paint people who were in jail for "acting stupid", not for being cruel.
- I ended up accomplishing what I wanted with this project. After a while I didn't have to think much. The routine was settled and all I had to do was paint. No questions asked.
And this project taught me a lot of things:
- I learned that I can't multitask: I can either paint or judge a painting, but I can't do both. If I try, I'll end up not doing anything and with a huge headache;
- I learned not to be so precious about what I make: it's not about perfection, it's about progress;
- I learned about being bold and trying new things: finally.
- I got really tired (and aching all over), but had so much fun and took so much pride in what I was doing that I didn't care;
- I gained laser sharp focus: after a while I could pretty much block out everything else and get into flow;
- Most importantly: I learned to trust the process. To just do the work.
The focus is not on the thing itself, but in the doing of the thing. It’s in the process. And truth is: sometimes it’s going to suck really hard. But you push through it and you do the work. And you become better at it.
|And it’s not the end result that brings you joy, it’s knowing that you can do it.|
It’s actually doing it.
And it's worth every second of it.