Early Morning Thoughts
Since I've got into the habit of rising early to paint I've come to love the mornings.
The world is quiet at 6 AM and the day is still full of promise. Usually I'll be thinking about a painting I've got underway and wondering what part to work on next. Maybe I'll be starting a new one and tingling with the anticipation and excitement that that always brings. It's warm enough now to have the window open first thing and on this particular morning I'm sitting here as usual with a large strong coffee, enjoying the calm and the fresh morning air. The first hint of daylight is starting to creep into the room and I can hear the pidgeons cooing in the trees by the railway line at the bottom of the garden.
I like to hear the trains go by, taking the early commuters into London because they remind me how lucky I've been to be able to spend so many of my working days at an easel. I've spent plenty of time on those commuter trains myself. I know the routine and because I do I make a point of taking a little time every morning to count my blessings.
But today is different. Although it's Sunday and the early trains are almost empty, today they're reminding me that tomorrow morning I'll be joining the commuters again and heading into London for the first day of my new job.
For the past three years I've been working freelance as a search engine optimisation consultant, commonly known in the industry as an SEO. The work is very interesting, usually enjoyable and being freelance has given me a lot of free time. I've endeavoured to make the most of that free time by using it to teach myself to draw and paint. But as the easel has occupied more and more of my waking hours my business has wound down. Now we find ourselves in the midst of a global recession brought on by the mindless greed and parasitism of the irresponsible, sorry excuses for human beings that seem to populate our financial sectors. It's really not a good time to be launching a painting career from a standing start, as I've recently discovered.
But I wouldn't want to give the impression that I'm sitting here feeling sorry for myself. Well, maybe a bit. But I still believe in the counting of blessings, and I'm very thankful that I'm able to get a good job and survive in the midst of all this carnage. Plenty of people with families and mortgages are finding themselves in very difficult circumstances right now. My heart goes out to them.
But going back to full time work will be a big change. I'll have much less free time to practice. I know that lots of you out there reading are struggling to balance full time work and other commitments with learning to draw and paint. I know it's not easy. Painting is time-intensive and very demanding.
It's going to come down to time managment. Routine. Commitment. Words that perhaps don't spring immediately to most non-artists' minds when they think of artists. But that's what we have to do if we're going to keep our dreams alive. That's what I have to do, at least to a greater degree than I have already.
As is always the case with life, there's no script for this. You can't open The Big Book of Life at the chapter titled "Balancing Painting Practice With Full Time Work and Other Assorted Commitments" and get a handy, one size fits all plan. It has to be figured out as we go along. But at least we can make a start.
Time management. Routine. Commitment. I'm going to commit to getting up every day an hour earier than I need to (that'll be, hmm, 5AM) and spending the first hour of the day on drawing practice. Since it's always easier to get started when you have a project to work on, I'm setting myself to start a cast drawing for my morning practice. I'll set it up today so that tomorrow morning I can just stumble in all bleary eyed and get drawing straight away.
I'm planning this to be a full cast drawing with tone. It's high time I did one of those having started a series of them a long time ago which needs reviving. The details I'll figure out (and blog about) as I go along.
I'm also going to commit to spending as much of the evenings as I can painting, but I'm going to give that a little thought before I start. Probably small still life painitngs, like that's a surprise, but the subjects will require a little thought. Flowers are out, since they'll die too quickly. So my planned flower series is going on hold. Stuff that doesn't move will make much more sense for a subject.
So there you have it, big changes at Learning to See. I'll try to blog more regularly about how I'm managing this new transition, and share any tips I can come up with regarding time management and making the most of what little time us day-job people have to move our work forward. Probably my posts will get shorter, but then that might be a relief for you - lets face it, I do tend to drone on at some length if I'm allowed to.
If any of you out there have some good tips on time management and finding the time to practice, I'm all ears. Please add them to the comments so we can all benefit.
For now, I'm going to leave you with a couple more of the copies I did last year. Funnily enough, these two copies were done on the train on the way to client meetings. See? There you go, even my daily commute can offer me an opportunity to practice. Maybe I'll see you on the train tomorrow morning...
1st March 2009