Time Well Spent

white tulips, watercolor study from direct observation

white tulips, watercolor study from direct observation

I firmly believe in managing my time as efficiently as possible. I teach 7 courses in drawing and painting every week, plus a weekend workshop or two each month. That does not leave a lot of time for developing ideas for my own paintings. I have a solo show later this year, some new work needed for one of the galleries that represents me and I’d like to begin planning a workshop in Europe for 2015. Here are the things I do to ensure my work stays fresh and that I keep growing as a painter.


Practice Everyday – this means EVERY day. I always take at least 20 minutes to focus on some form of drawing or painting purely for the sake of practice. It may be a little water color study, a pen and ink drawing or just a quick gestural sketch or two in charcoal. Whatever it is, it is done purely with the intent of building skill with no expectation in terms of an end result. The end result is learning.

Develop Awareness – ideas for paintings are all around us. I am always composing in my mind as I walk down the street, drive my car, or ride public transportation. I look at things and think of how they might carve up the space on a canvas, and how I would put the paint down, and what medium would depict them the best. This builds observation skill and opens your mind to new ideas for subject matter.

Speak Clearly with Paint – for me, that means getting across the message you are trying to convey with your painting with as few strokes as possible. Before you can do that, you have to know what your message is, why do you want to paint your subject? What are you trying to say with it? It does not have to be narrative, it may be purely visual or purely abstract. The important thing is to know what you want to say, and to say it clearly and concisely, make every stroke count.



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