Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Artist As Salaryman

My new studio isn't a patch on my old one. It's smaller, in a mid-city space shared with other artists. I haven't had time to set it up properly so it's neither comfortable nor efficient – nothing more than three and half walls and a paint-stained floor. Nevertheless, my first two days at work here have been very productive.
I stick to a routine. I plan each day in detail, taking care not to crowd the hours so I'm able to complete each task I set myself. I limit my time in the studio – and with it my exposure to carcinogenic enamel fumes – to no more than half a day. I spend two hours at the gym afterwards. Whatever's left, I leave free for meetings or hole up in my hotel room, where I draw, catch up with phone calls and correspondence, or conceive new work.
I used to measure a successful week by the amount I crammed into it. The trouble was, too many ended with little if anything actually done. Now I look to the long haul and an accumulation of small successes that, over months, add up to substantial accomplishment.
It's not particularly romantic. The time management and attention to mundane detail can feel like the daily grind of a regular office job. But I bear in mind the words of Gustave Flaubert: "Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work."


Shannon said...

I really needed to see that particular quote today of all days.

Alyson B. Stanfield said...

Nice, Hazel. It's important for other artists to hear about the discipline it takes to be a professional artist--straight from your mouth instead of mine.

Thanks to @pamrubert and @lisacall for RTing your post so I could find it.

Detlef Cordes said...

I like this approach taking the hot air out of the pink romantic baloon "art" as opposed to everyday life and its determinants.

If being shapes consciousness and consciousness shapes art, art can create a fresh view and feedback on being - or it can be just a part of the loop of mutual affirmation.

Thank you for the fresh view in words and pictures.

TET (David) said...

"...my exposure to carcinogenic enamel fumes"

I'm starting to think you mention that so often because you like writing the word 'carcinogenic'.

Hazel Dooney said...

It IS a great word. :-)

Bec Winnel said...

This is such an inspirational post. My current focus is trying to be more productive and efficient. It can be so hard sometimes!

Dave said...

Have you read "War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. In it he discusses the importance of doing our work. I've found it very inspiring, and recommend it heartily!

faerian said...

this really is what i need to hear - i have left work that values busy-ness over any other quality (nursing- you'd think it would be compassion but nah) to free my creative life... and what do i do? clog it up with busy-ness in an effort to feel worthy - this has been a VERY helpful read thank you