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Surrounded by Shortcuts

As a painter and printmaker, I enjoy things that require steps or process. I also like to garden and cook for those same sequential rhythms. And I like to make art more often than any other activity. How about you?

Working with my hands is meditative. Years ago, as a newbie attending an artist’s dessert potluck, I made cookies from a recipe that – to me – has just the right amount of crispy and chewy. One of the artists quipped “Oh gawd, you didn’t MAKE those, did you? Well, you’re new here. We all buy cookies! You’ll figure it out and follow suit shortly.”

I offered her a cookie. She loved it, and muttered something about how long it had been since she’d bit into a homemade cookie. As we dispersed later that evening, she asked if I’d email her the recipe.

a watercolor palette with a flat brush sitting on it

Follow the Artist Studio Recipe

The artworld likes homemade cookies.  You’ll make progress if you use good ingredients, put a little time in, and follow steps in the right sequence.  Here’s an art studio recipe:

  1. Create a body of work you’re proud of, title, and scan or photograph each piece.
  2. Submit jpegs of your art to regional shows, competitions and blogs that curate and share artwork in your media and style.
  3. Create a schedule, and plot where and when you’ll trickle out images of your newest work – on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and artist groups and forums.
  4. Make sure your contact information is accessible in every site where you share your work, so people can reach out if they have a question about a show, or a purchase. At the least, include links back to your blog, where your contact info should be clearly visible.
  5. Be prepared with a price list, framing options if applicable, invoice and payment details and shipping logistics, should someone decide they’d like to buy a piece of your art.
  6. Regardless of the outcome of sequence 1-5, keep making new work.
making a mat board collagraph
Sketching and cutting a mat board collagraph plate on a lap desk on the couch

Dream it – Do it

I know lots of artists who want to paint, or print, and they mean to get something going next week or in a few months. Other priorities nudge artmaking back into the wish-cupboard over and over again.

When we do finally get going, we want stellar results to come fast, for lack of time. But working in fits and starts often requires warming up, and a few rusty studies.

Even then, we might not get into the flow of working more deeply and loosely with such short and infrequent art-making windows.  That’s when confidence takes kick in the shins. Rushing your art can feel like those store-bought cookies, tossed in the cart and squeezed into a tight schedule.

making art in any room
Carving a linocut on a lap desk on the couch while my family watches a football game

Schedule It

There’s no harm in a quick solution to an intimidating challenge. It’s human nature for artists to wish for masterpieces each time we pick up a brush with 15 minutes to spare.

Who wouldn’t enjoy showers of recognition, and collectors asking if we ship worldwide? In order to move forward, I think constructing a path with real progression starts with number one in the list above: make your art.

watercolor of a kitchen
Firenze Cucina 12 x 17 watercolor on paper (sold)

Hunt for the Treasure of Time

When I surveyed my schedule years ago, the best candidate for an adjustment in my daily activity was TV time and internet surfing.

In a week, if I removed 8 hours a day for sleeping and another 8/day for work, I still had 56 hours a week to organize efficiently. I figured I could squeeze an hour or two in there for artmaking, right?

Take a look at your weekly patterns, and search for an hour or two you might be able to replace (consistently) with art-making. If structure works for you, schedule the time on your calendar.

Leave sketchbooks and pre-mounted paper with drafting pencils and reference photos clipped together in strategic places in your home. 

My husband likes to unwind with a little tv in the evenings, so I grid-transfer drawings for small to medium sized paintings on a lap-desk while sitting next to him on the couch.

I have art-making supplies ready for drawing in cupboards, the pocket of my car door, by the phone and in my purse.  A tiny bit of material-assembly prep goes a long way towards starting art-making habits during the day.

from digital art to printmaking
On the top: a doodle idea for a mermaid collagraph, done on an ipad, on the couch in the evening. On the bottom: the collagraph plate, carved and sealed, getting inked to print the next day.

Measure Against Yourself

If we measure our progress against the lowest common denominator (random art sessions arranged by other folks or “when we have a little time” ), it’s easy to seduce ourselves into feeling like we’re “working” now and then. #buyingcookies

This can lead to wondering why we aren’t getting anywhere…  If instead, we set our time, and a goal to best our own previous output, we can measure against ourselves last week, and then last month, and then last year.

Solid, measurable progress happens in baby steps of reserved time, and focused attention. Accolades work better as stimuli to keep going.

Browbeating for not getting your work done isn’t very motivating. Gather your supplies, set your time, and enjoy the meditative process of improving your skills, one step at a time. And then reward yourself. With cookies. 🙂

monotype from plexiglass plates
Using a grid-transfer drawing method to enlarge my reference photo in preparation for a monotype.

Read More Encouragement

If you’d like to read more on this subject, have a look at these posts:

I hope you sneak a little artmaking into this season. If you have other tips for folks struggling to get to their art supplies, please share methods that worked for you in the comments. We creative folk have to stick together and lift each other up!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. You can subscribe to this blog to receive each new post via email (free) right here.

how to title your art
Click the kitty to explore this short, impactful video course with step by step methods to create compelling titles for your art.

Art Quote

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.

Walt Whitman

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7 thoughts on “Firenze Cucina – Watercolor and Making Art More Often”

  1. Judy Langhoff

    Belinda, your messages speak to me more and more! I am actually flagging your posts and go back to them often for inspiration. (You inspired me to take out those colored pencils and resurrect a sketch I had given up on…and now I love it!) I am planning to really attack this daily sketching habit. When I am at my table, I love it and wonder why I don’t make time every day for pen, ink, and watercolor. Keep those wonderful blogs coming!

    1. Hi Judy, Thanks for your nice note, and Yahoo that these missives are tickling your inspiration mojo and making you reach for your art supplies! And with success too! Bravo and keep your good results coming! Thanks again for stopping by!

    1. Hello my friend, Thanks for the visit and your kind words. Been thinking about you a lot these past few weeks. Sending crisp blue skies and cotton ball cloud views in your direction. xoxoxoxo

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