I’m learning that, when it comes to productivity and success, it's vitally important to establish a routine. I have a somewhat loose routine, but I want to develop a stricter one.
What Does A Routine Include?
A routine includes,
What Exactly Am I Trying To Do?
My goal for my routine is to establish firm working and resting hours during the day as well as times during the day or week for personal tasks, such as shopping and making appointments. Oh, and here’s the thing, not online shopping or watching entertainment based YouTube videos during times I’ve designated as business hours.
I don’t buy the whole “you need to wake up before the sun to be successful” maxim. There is a reason to wake up early if you’re one of the people who’s a true morning lark. Likewise, if 5 am is the only time of the day you can fit in quiet time, then you might want to get up then. But I don’t believe waking up early is magically going to make you more productive, because if you’re getting up early, you also have to go to bed early, so you’re not really getting more hours. That is, unless you want to skimp on sleep, which I don’t recommend.
Some people are night owls and there’s nothing wrong with that. If waking up at 7 or 8 works for you, then do it. I personally wake up before sunrise because I live in a hot climate and it gives me time to walk in the morning before it gets too hot. Ultimately, though, it’s not when you get up that determines how productive you are. It’s how you use the hours that you are awake.
Why I've Struggled
I'm Autistic and a lot of people like me can be very rigid when it comes to routines. I know a routine is impossible to stick to all the time, nor would I really want to. I want to be able to allow myself the occasional spontaneous lunch out or trip to a museum, for example. I also will inevitably have to go to appointments, which will cut into "work hours". My routine is just how I will aspire to spend most of my days. Nevertheless, I fall into the trap of feeling like if I can't stick to a routine 100%, I don't want to establish one at all. I know, logically, though, that having a routine I follow 70-80% of the time will get me much farther than following a routine 0% of the time.
Even without establishing a firm routine, I have no doubt we can get a lot more done by cutting out time wasting activities. Let me say, though, that resting is not a waste of time. What I’m talking about are things like mindlessly scrolling social media, checking my email a dozen times a day, and just mindlessly picking up my phone when I think I have nothing better to do.
What Got Me Thinking About This?
There are two series on Youtube that were a big inspiration to me to start thinking about this. One is “I Tried Writing Like” by Kate Cavanaugh and the other is an untitled series by Nathaniel Drew. So far, in her series, Kate has done the routines of Stephen King, Harauki Marakami, Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, Nora Roberts, VE Schwab, RL Stine, Brandon Sanderson and others. In his series, Nathaniel has done the routines of Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Pablo Picasso and Maya Angelou. By the way, Picasso was a late riser.
All these people either had a set number of hours that they worked each day or a quota of words (for writers) or other tasks that they required themselves to complete. True to my bullet list above, most of them also had set times they completed these tasks.
This Week’s Painting Progress
I was adding layers and layers of dark color to my anhinga’s body, but no matter how much I added, it didn’t feel finished. I decided I needed to include these feathers.
I’d already gone over that part of the paper with paint, though, so I broke one of the watercolor rules and painted over my watercolor with white acrylic paint, so I could paint on top of it. Even after going over my white paint with gray blue watercolor though, I still wasn’t satisfied. I’ve learned that if you’re unhappy with a piece, it could very well mean that you’re not finished. I went back and added even more titanium white. I made lines going the opposite way to the ones I’d made before and just little marks that I’m not even sure what to call. My goal was to cover the majority of the black in that area. I wanted the white spots grouped very close together. Now, I still need to go over these white spots with the blue color of the feathers, but just having them there, I feel makes the painting look a million times better.
I’ve come to realize that if I want to have themed paintings done in time, I need to do them in advance, somewhat. To that end, I’m thinking doing something with this black bird
for Halloween. I’m sure I want a pumpkin in the painting, but I haven’t decided what other elements, if any, will be in it.
I might also be painting a dog for a client soon. By the way, if you want to commission your own painting, check out this page.
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I didn’t do any painting this week, with the exception of mixing a bit of color to darken the body of my bird. This is because I’ve been prioritizing finishing the video I’m working on, which is going to show the process of my last painting, of the heron. Lately, I’ve been struggling with the question of whether to prioritize the creation of art itself, or the promotion of that art, which in my case, and for most contemporary artists, means sharing the work on things like social media, writing blog posts, and of course, making videos. The last one can be more time consuming than the actual painting.
The answer may seem obvious. If I want to be an artist, I need to create art. But, while I know I can’t make a living as an artist without a body of work, (and that without my art, I have nothing to promote anyway) I also know that I can’t make a living without a following, and the way I get a following is by promoting myself and my work. I also know that the bigger my body of work, the greater chance I have of making it, as long as the quality is good, but, on the same hand, I also have a better chance of making it, the bigger my audience is and the better I am at marketing to them.
If I have a commitment or deadline, I know exactly what to prioritize. If I have a commission, my priority is finishing the painting for the client. Likewise, if I have a show coming up that I need to make paintings for, that is my focus. I’m talking about times when I don’t have any obligation to anyone else and I’m working entirely on my own projects. That’s when figuring out what to prioritize is fuzzy.
I’ve heard before that to be a successful artist, we should spend at least half our time promoting our work. So does that answer my question? Should either the creation of work and promotion of it be equally prioritized possibly?
I posted this question in a Facebook group for people who are trying to make a living as an artist and so far, I haven’t gotten any replies. I guess everyone else is as confused as I am. I know the fact that I'm even thinking about prioritization is a step in the right direction.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, whether you've figured out the conundrum or you're still struggling like I am.
In Other News
There are crows in my community and sometimes they land on mailboxes. If I can get a pic of one, I think it could make a great painting, but alas, they always fly away. Aaaah, someday.
That's all for now. I'll see you in my next post. If you enjoyed this post, why not sign up for my newsletter? That way, future posts will come straight to your inbox.
I'm painting a bird called an anhinga, which I must say, has a very interesting wingshape. In this post, I want to write a little bit part of my process of painting separating the feathers of those wings.
As I was getting near the end of painting the anhinga, the wings were still bothering me. I knew I needed more separation between the feathers. I could not get by with just the pencil lines. My first thought was to add shadows, but that wasn’t right. The wings weren’t separate by shadows, but by highlights. I couldn’t make the edges of my feathers any lighter, though, so I made the other sides of them darker. That way the edges would look lighter by default.
Here's what the anhinga's wings looked like before I added the darker shade to them.
You can see what they looked like after in the pic at the top of this post. I used a small brush and one fluid motion for each wing. If I’d stopped and started, my edges would’ve been ragged. I couldn’t have that, since these the shapes of these highlights determine the shapes of the feathers, which needed to be straight. As soon as I put my first stroke down, I could see the wings coming to life. It was like depth was being infused into them. To think I almost skipped this because I was lazy.
A way I could’ve made it better would be to have a more consistent amount of water in my brush throughout the project. There were times when I had more water in my brush than at others and this caused the paint to pool in those areas, so it wasn’t as even as I would’ve liked. The hardest part was getting super close to the edge, while still leaving that little sliver.
By the way, here's the full painting, so far,
and the reference photo.
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Painter of portraits and wildlife