This post is a response to a question I am sometimes asked about how I approach studio time and build it into my day to make sure it is a consistent practice.

Freedom and flexibility are two of my highest values.

Countless people have found that that tends to translate into my slippery Piscean way of not committing to things, or sliding out of them at the last minute.

I like my life to be free of clock times {9-5 for example, or waking up at the same time every day}, and if you want me to definitely do something at a date further than, well, today really, you’re going to be hard pressed to pin me down.

{Paradoxically I’m excellent with deadlines, am never late to anything and I love to MAKE plans, just not necessarily always to execute them with the same meticulous enthusiasm.}

The most obvious things truly are often the hardest to see.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to me to realise that when it comes to making art, the freer I am, the less I actually do it.

That includes freedom of time, of subject, of materials and of ideas. I have made art intuitively for years now, and I’m the first to admit that although art does COME OUT, it’s never been renowned for consistency of look or any kind of regularity of production.

I have recently begun making commitments as part of the conscious choice to grow what I love and do most and best into a little business.

These commitments are to both myself and to others, and that has meant the necessity for some degree of planning and scheduling of studio time.

In short, I’ve been having to create boundaries.

Boundaries have never been my forte, since I felt they conflicted with my love of freedom and flexibility, but it’s so much more comfortable to begin creating them in a practical area than in an emotional one. And surely it’ll rub off on the places I find it more difficult…

As an unexpected side effect of this boundary creating, I have discovered that I want to make a stronger commitment to myself by making a stronger commitment to my art.

And suddenly I want to have some kind of framework that will allow me to be more prolific, more consistent and produce better quality work by way of doing it more often.

I know myself well enough to know that saying I will paint at such and such a time for so many hours on these days is going to shut me down immediately, so I have to employ an element of stealth here.

There has to be flexibility within the boundaries, freedom within restraints.

So this is how I’m playing with creating boundaries I don’t react against.

  • I am committed to studio time every day, whether that’s for ten minutes to shuffle some things around, or 7 hours of solid, in-the-zone painting. It’s easy to go in there without telling myself I ‘must’ do anything in particular, and once I’m in, I’m much more likely to be inspired to begin.
  • My paintings, since the artpiphany brought on by this painting, now seem to be returning to my original love of figurative art, so that gives me the boundary of subject to play with. {Hello, consistent work.}
  • I’ve discovered that I absolutely cannot paint the way I want to without at least one reference image. The difference between the ‘freedom’ of I could paint anything and the ACTUAL freedom that opens up when I have an image to work from is profound, and very exciting.

I have already started doing this, and so far, so very much better than I had imagined.

By remembering that change is the only constant and my practice and processes must evolve as I do, this container allows me to create something solid without shoulds or falling into procrastination.

Out of routine comes inspiration.

Mark Kostabi

Or in my case, out of a tentative and flexible framework. ;)

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