Learning almost anything and the magic dance

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, business of art, fine art, mental health, Odditerrarium, Sustainable creativity

Dancing smoothly nowadays as I near time to deliver all 20 of my Odditerrarium artworks for exhibit via Caplan Art Designs which opens in June at Burnt Bridge Cellars.

All 20 artworks are finished. In progress is the framing, the exhibit paperwork, the delivery and the social media about it all. An artist’s work is never done…it’s a lot like a cooks work that way.

But here’s one of my paintings titled “Learning Almost Anything”. Like the others in my Odditerrarium series it is 10 x 8 inches, created with ink, gouache and collage on board.

Here’s a closer view so you can see what this dog is thinking.

Doing fine art exhibits, like writing for publication, requires both being organized and resisting tempting parking spots. I have two phrases thumbtacked to my studio wall to help me remember.

When I began my Odditerrarium painting series in 2021 I did enough planning in my sketchbook that I knew the sizes I wanted to work in. I created 5 or so of the paintings to see if my series idea had legs. Then over a month ago I ordered frames from the Aurora Gallery. The frames are made by hand and that takes time.  The first box of frames is in my studio ready for action. A second box of frames is due soon.

Now that creation of the paintings is done I set up a system, a working routine, so that I don’t wear out my hand doing the varnishing or framing processes.

Elsewhere in my blog I’ve talked about working in short bursts as a way to make time, energy and the financial components of a creative life sustainable. This is true too of the varnish and frame stage.

More than a month ago I also ordered the cans of varnish I knew I’d need along with a few other art supplies from my local Artist and Craftsman. My dachshund supervisor made sure the order was correct when it came.

Now my daily routine includes a “spray two frame two” dance. It goes like this: just before lunch I take two paintings to my garage where I spray a coat of varnish. Then we have lunch. After lunch I spray another coat of varnish on those same two paintings. Here’s a photo of me in the respirator mask I use when I spray varnish.

Those just varnished paintings stay out in the garage the rest of the day. When I quit working for the day, around dinner time, I bring them into the studio and put them on the easel to finish drying. In the photo below you see two just-varnished paintings on my easel. To the right of the easel is a framing station. My painting supplies are still out because there are other projects in progress just to the left of this photo. There are other creative projects that get a short burst of work each day so that’s another reason why the just-varnished stay out in the garage till the day is done.

Here are two getting framed. Having the varnished art on the easel puts them within easy reach of my frame station. Doing the varnishing around lunchtime the previous day means that by the time they get put into frames 24 or so hours have passed and the varnish is completely dry.

Besides checking in the new art supplies my dachshund supervisor also oversees the framing. He’s very busy, perhaps more busy than usual lately, but like I do, he paces himself so that it’s sustainable.

Like the quote thumbtacked just above the light switch in the photo below says about dancing and magic happening, being organized doesn’t guarentee smoothly run projects. (Another mantra I use often: “Nothing has to go right today”) Organization gives my projects a sporting chance to be sustainable, it gives me the possibility of meeting deadlines with a smile. Besides I deeply despise chaos and rushing about so I prefer to pace myself (and dance) at a calm speed.

And I treasure time each day to read and learn almost anything.

I hope your week goes at your preferred pace. Take care of yourself. See you next Monday.

16 thoughts on “Learning almost anything and the magic dance

  1. Kudos on the preparations for the new art show (and remaining calm about it). If I didn’t have Evernote to organize my
    writing life, I’d be completely sunk.

  2. This is a wonderful post, Sue. I love seeing more of the almost completed works for the show. It’s going to be a great one! But it’s the explanation of your process that makes it even more appealing to see, read and learn about. So many great quotes and mantra’s included here. It also occurred to me how your two and two process would ease set-up and actually cause less overall work.
    I tend to be very organized and leave adequate time on big projects since I too detest rushing and the mistakes and/or confusion it can cause. I like to leave adaptation energy for the unexpected that happens anyway. But what you’ve helped me see is how my projects can be more integrated into the other aspects of my daily life to create an overall flow, instead of creating that organization for the project and then scrambling to fit all the other aspects in, under, over and around it. I tend to categorize tasks and priorities and choose between them for focus instead of considering my whole life as one flow.
    Your sharing so specifically of the flow of your days has helped me notice it’s not really a balance of work, pleasure, education, social time, etc. It’s a balance of life with all the many interests, tasks and duties intertwined all at once. Like braiding continuous threads instead of squirting different colors of paint one after the other in a continuous line. Both can make a beautiful winding cord, but with the different colors there’s a type of stop and start and always a decision to grapple with and work through. When braiding all of the interesting choices are right there ready to wrap in and you can immediately see the color that might be nice to add a bit of and pull it in and then drop it when the another one is a pleasant choice to put in at the moment, without so much struggle and interruption.
    I like the braid analogy too, since if you ignore a thread entirely, it’s quickly noticeable as left out stringy on the side, so you’re likely to want to bring it into the whole regularly to keep it flowing smoothly and beautifully. Where if you use one color at a time, you might forget to pick up one of the paint tubes until it’s dropped from the artwork and diminishes it by accident.

    1. Yes!!! I love your braid analogy!!!! Yes, that’s exactly it!! I deliberately interweave the various strands of my creative projects and my personal life!! For example when I downloaded to my laptop the photos I’d taken of the Odditerrarium artworks with my big camera – the download took a while so after the download began I ran around dusting my bookshelves and doing some stretching exercises on a yoga mat. I’d pop over to my laptop periodically to make sure it was still processing but I wasn’t just sitting and waiting for the download to finish. Hanging out with my wife is a major daily strand that I weave in too… I find that the careful interweaving of rest, play, exercise, conversation with creativity helps enrich everything in a sustainable way.
      Yes! Doing a two and two process does indeed cause less overall work! Setting up a work station first takes the most time and effort. After that set up doing the work itself is almost an afterthought over the next weeks. Which allows space for my subconscious mind to work. It’s said that happiness happens while you’re busy doing something else. I think both creativity and life work like that too.
      Thanks for your comment it was an excellent one!!!! ❤

      1. Thanks, Sue! And part of what I meant in two and two reducing work is I used to clear a huge area and spray all works at once. Then another huge area to frame in… Silly, when you can do a couple in small spaces. I think of doing each step all at once as more efficient since you don’t have to change gears, but in that case, it was not. Your posts encourage and teach in so many ways. Thanks again!!! <3

        1. Yes!!! You totally understand what I was writing about re reducing work/making it sustainable!!!! Thank you!! And I’m glad to hear that my posts encourage and teach!! That’s always my hope!! 🤞 And thank you again!!! ❤

  3. I love that you have a system for everything in order to cram as much creativity and productivity in your day as possible without risking complete burn out. I am inherently a very organized, control freak of a person so your mode of operation really speaks to me and what I aspire to with my own – smaller scale, of course – creative output. I just need to be more in control of my own schedule to pull it off. I am hoping to recalibrate and get back on track with good creative habits during summer break. Maybe right now I have just had a sustained period in a parking space.

    1. For the record I have been totally impressed with what you have accomplished with your art!! With young people in a house who come to you with questions, issues, needs, wants etc it would be difficult for anyone to keep a system of organization on a path. It is challenging sometimes for me with only a dachshund, a cat and another adult who sometimes in surprise moments need things from me. In my past I’ve tried to keep an organized creativity habit while caring for an elderly relative. There are always monkey wrenches that get thrown into any organization plan. Just this week our dishwasher decided to break… so that has interrupted things. For me I find that the obstacles are the path…so rather than focus on having a system work smoothly i try to focus on the flexibility, fun-ness and sustainability of the system. It’s not always smooth for me either… there are many tempting parking places and always will be. Another mantra I use: just breathe and keep going. My love and affection is included here just for you. ❤

        1. Lol!!!! Monkey wenches – what an image!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣 I’m glad you had a laugh and that you shared it too!! Thank you!!! I’m so glad we’re friends!!!

Thank you for reading and sharing encouragements!