Every day when I enter my studio, I ask the question, where do I begin? It’s not that I haven’t already thought about it, made some plans or created a to-do list. I open the door and see all the things going on in the studio and I freeze, momentarily. It’s like the first stages of moving into a new place. All the boxes and accumulated odds and ends that come with the years of living are in a jumble, or so it seems. And I ask myself, “Where to begin?”
In my case, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have so many options. If you are an artist who wants to get your work out there, more than likely, you have several projects going on at the same time — for a good reason. You have hit a block with one, are experimenting with another, and noodling on the next. There are usually a few that are in various stages of completion and a couple waiting to be wired, framed, etc. There is always something to do.
Like many other artists, I have a ritual of sorts that helps me focus and begin my day. I enter my studio with a plan to do three things: I sit down with my day planner (and my iced coffee) and make notes on the work I did the previous day; I make a to-do list for this day; then, I look over the works in progress, generally ignore them, and start with a warm-up piece. Once I’ve done that, I have a pretty good idea of where to begin. It’s been mulling around in my head all this time so that, when I make that choice, the energy has been nurtured and is now focused — I’m ready to go.
Setting a timer is also helpful. It is so easy for me to dawdle over something or get caught up in a work that it prevents me from taking a break (space is good) and stops everything else from moving forward. Limiting a project to 45 minutes to 1½ hours, depending upon what is needed, works well for me. If I’m in the flow, I give myself permission to reset the timer one time for that particular piece. After that, I move on.
You may think, “Wow, she’s really disciplined.” I like to think that, too. I’m intuitive by nature, so it’s not unheard of for me to preempt my work with good intentions. Having a plan is good. It’s a place to start — giving me focus and moving me forward.
Where do you begin? Share your process below.