Month: November 2016

Operation: DEADLINE!

“I don’t need time, I need a deadline.” 
Duke Ellington



You know how it is. Every time you begin a new piece of art work, especially if you are working towards the goal of an exhibition or a commission, you are going to get right on it and get ‘er done. At least that’s how I think. In fact, presently I have on the calendar three commissions, an exhibition that will be upon me before I know it, and my world famous blog to write, all with deadlines that I am going to meet, any moment now. Really.

Only that’s not how it usually ends up, does it?  Deadlines, whether self imposed or not, are something artists often have a love/hate relationship with. We like to feel that in order to create work we need the freedom of an open time frame, and chafe at the idea that anyone should suggest that we get things done by a certain time. Yet, when we really think about, how much do we manage to accomplish when the hours easily roll one into another, and distractions abound; when Facebook beckons, and the ding of messages on our digital devices entice us away from our work? Yep, just as I thought, not all that much.

So how do we embrace the dreaded deadline and make it work for us? Here are some suggestions:

  • Haven’t been given a deadline for an exhibit or commission? Give yourself one! Use your calendar to mark a finish-by-date and commit to keeping it. Put it in red, with stars around it. Look at it everyday and schedule work time to reach it. If a friend calls and wants to distract you with a playdate, and if it is on your work day, say “no thanks, I’ve got a deadline to meet!” Chances are they do too!
  • Partner with friends to make a deadline a mutual goal. Remember that old tried and true wisdom often shared about making resolutions and sticking to them?  If you tell someone of an action you wish to take, or a new habit you want to develop, you are more likely to do it. Find a friend or two who will hold you accountable, and you can agree to do the same for them. Post your progress on social media to share with your friends and fans! You’ll be amazed at the number of folks who like to follow the progression of the creative process.
  • Schedule regular meet-up dates with other artists for critique of new or works-in-progress as a way to keep to a deadline. Artists who form effective critique groups find them quite helpful for both feedback and staying on track to get projects done. You don’t want to be the one in the group who never has new work to critique or keeps showing up with the excuse, “I just didn’t have time! So here’s that old painting, again, that I bring every time for critique. Do you still love it?”
  • Does the scope of your project leave you feeling overwhelmed, making the idea of the deadline really dreadful? When I am in that situation I have found it more manageable to break up the task into small bite size pieces and give those mini-deadlines. Deadline #1 might be that by the end of the day, the imprimatura will be on the canvas, by day two, the drawing transferred, a week later, the first layer will be done, and so on.  As the old union song goes: Step by step the longest march can be won!
  • Remember when you were a kid and the teacher said if you got your desk work done you could visit the reading or games corner as a reward? Revisit that child in you and reward your deadlines, small and large. For example, if you set a goal that at end of one hour you need to have completed a certain task without distraction, and if you complete it,  give yourself permission to do something enjoyable, like walking to a coffee shop for a cappuccino. When I finish this blog post there is a piece of dark chocolate waiting with my name on it! Talk about motivation!

So face and tackle those deadlines, and when you are done it will feel as though a burden is lifted, giving you a real sense of accomplishment. As for me, I gotta run–a quick look at my red-penned, starred calendar shows that I have a deadline, post-haste to meet: I got to get this blog post published (and have that piece of chocolate)!

This Week in the Studio

Working on trying to wrap up paintings and projects by the end of the year, including beginning a commission, means I got to make and stick to deadlines. Stay tuned to see how I do.

One of my end of the year goals is to complete another self portrait. Can you guess the artist influencing this one?