Artists and Routine

December 17 (morning routine), by Flickr user Romanlily.
December 17 (morning routine), by Flickr user Romanlily. Click image to visit Romanlily's photostream.

A goal for 2009 is to not fill up my calendar with gallery shows. I have been blessed in the past two years, being presented with a variety of opportunities to show my work in and around Oklahoma. (Thanks, folks!) The downside of that is I have been painting under deadline for all of that time. I work well with deadlines, and am pretty good at managing my time. Now I am looking forward to opening up my work to free-form exploration. This is a journey best served with a side of structure. I've been reading the blog Daily Routines for ideas. An excerpt from today's post about Chris Ofili:

He arrives in his studio at 9 or 10 in the morning, he explained. He sets aside a corner for watercolors and drawings "away from center stage," meaning where he paints his big, collaged oil paintings. "I consider that corner of the studio to be my comfort zone," he said. First, he tears a large sheet of paper, always the same size, into eight pieces, all about 6 by 9 inches. Then he loosens up with some pencil marks, "nothing statements, which have no function."

"They're not a guide," he went on, they're just a way to say something and nothing with a physical mark that is nothing except a start."

Watercolor goes on top. He estimated that each head takes 5 to 15 minutes. Occasionally he'll paint while on the phone. He may finish one watercolor or 10 in the course of a day.

This comes from a longer article about artists' routines that ran in the New York Times in 2005. Here is the full article.

A point about artists I often impress on people is that we are not magicians.

The myth is that artists are somehow different. That they leap from one peak of inspiration to another. That they reject limits - that this is precisely what makes them artists. But of course that's not true. Most artists work as the rest of us do, incrementally, day by day, according to their own habits. That most art does not rise above the level of routine has nothing necessarily to do with the value of having a ritual.

This is as close to a New Year's Resolution as I will get.