Am I a day late? I lost a day (in my mind) because of the Labor Day Holiday Monday. This kind of thing happens with increasing frequency; time is flowing, flying, swimming, flashing, and flickering by. Nishi and I created Caerus artist Residency to try to catch the fast and slippery moment of opportunity and time for art represented by the god Caerus. Now, once again I’m seeking time, carving it out in the fall, one of my favorite times to paint.
It has to all happen at once. Sometimes we can enter the magic land where there’s nothing to do but make art, or be in love, or travel for long periods. Most of the time it’s a mixture of responsibilities and creation. It’s just that, as artists, we aren’t allowed to use our responsibilities as excuses not to make art. The excuses are always a bit untrue, and, more importantly, they’re tedious and boring. If it is an excuse, it always deadens experience. Who needs that?
Given that time is such a rare commodity in this incarnation of our culture, I was happy to see Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Time, by Marney Makridakis. It’s such a good idea to take the creativity of the artist to the notion of time and actually create time as you might a work of art. Fabulous metaphor!
One technique I like very much is her idea of not trying to prioritize. If we make creation a heavy, demanding Priority, we may create so much resistance to it that we are paralyzed and knotted when it actually comes time to relax and create. Art does happen within a context of rich, complicated, teeming life, not in a vacuum.
Instead, she urges us to portraitize: draw out in the form of a landscape all the time demands in your life. It’s the broad view. Heck, draw a landscape. What would the mountains of your life be? Tasks, goals? The trees? Animals? People? What’s the water? Refreshment, filling the well? What about the dangerous deserts or quicksand or bad trolls under the bridge? I have found this exercise very useful when seeking art time. Then choose a focal point for today, for now, and put it in the foreground. Maybe it’s art, maybe it’s not. See Marney’s diagram here.
Then focus on your “focal point.” It’s inclusive; you don’t have to throw anything out to do your art, but you do have to gently focus, rather than aggressively “prioritize”, yelling at yourself like a Marine sergeant.
A while ago I started using art metaphors and experience to encourage forward movement. Instead of saying, “I can hold a job, therefore I’m strong enough to paint and mount a gallery show,” it’s become the opposite. Now I say, “I can paint and mount a show, so work should be a snap in comparison.”
Enjoy Marney’s book, a rich and timely read. This is just a little sample of some of her creative approaches to time.
Is time a friend or an enemy? What do you do to make time for art? (Whining is the enemy of art time. I know this from experience.)