Making quality art can take time, but have you ever found yourself wishing you could finish paintings, get more done, and become overall more productive in your artistic process?
Some artists may challenge the idea that efficiency has a place in the creative world. However, artists who wish to sell work regularly understand the need for productivity in their studio.
Whether in finishing a painting, starting a painting, or creating a better workflow, productivity has a place in art. There are three key principles to becoming a more productive artist. By following these steps, you can streamline your work process, avoid unnecessary mistakes, and become more efficient in your artistic practice.
The starting point for becoming an efficient and productive artist is having the right knowledge. The more you know and learn, the less you will fumble and falter.
Knowledge comes in pieces. Most new artists will make mistakes and be far less efficient at the beginning of their education rather than in the middle or at the end. This is why having a clear and foundational education is crucial to becoming an efficient artist.
If you try to teach yourself, the time it will take for you to reach your goals will be much longer than if a teacher were to come alongside you and guide you to where you want to be.
Mistakes are a part of learning, but wandering aimlessly with no direction through your education is the least productive way to make art. You may learn some things, but you’ll mostly just waste time faltering with things a teacher could have explained quickly.
The first step to becoming a productive, efficient artist is to ensure that you gain the right knowledge to move forward with confidence.
Intent is another important part of becoming a productive artist. Having intent and making a game plan for your artwork will determine how efficient you will be.
If you jump into a painting with no idea of where you want to go with the piece and no plan, you will end up having to figure it out while you work. As the painting progresses, you will take steps that you, in the process, realize are not right, and you will have to back out of them.
Corrective work in the drawing and painting process piles up quickly.
Suddenly, something that should have taken 10 minutes, now takes an hour to correct. And once corrected, you realize that something else looks incorrect compared to the area you’ve just spent an hour on. And the downward spiral continues.
Playing catch up in a painting can be infuriating. Having a game plan right from the beginning is a simple solution. Sit down and distinguish between your lights and shadows, understand the value range in the painting, and plan through the process by which you will approach the day’s work.
Understanding the relationships happening in your painting will help you to formulate a plan as you approach it. Again, without the above-mentioned knowledge, this would be difficult to plan. Knowledge and intent help you to make a game plan based on the things that you know, understand, and have already worked with.
An efficient painter is not always a fast painter. If you rush as you work, trying to be efficient, you run the risk of becoming ineffective by making mistakes. Making mistakes due to rushing means that you will have to fix something again. However, fixing things can take 10 times longer than doing it intentionally and carefully the first time.
Let’s say you approach an area in your painting that should take 20 minutes with your skillset, but you do it in 10 because you start to rush. However, when you step back, you can see that you now need to readdress it. And if it takes 10 times as long to correct it, you now have several hours of work to readdress and correct this small area. So by shaving off ten minutes, you’ve added two hours to your painting process.
Working at the right pace for yourself and not rushing will streamline your process. Now being patient doesn’t mean being slow. It simply means that you are intentional as you work, placing everything correctly, to the best of your ability, the first time around.
[Move] at a pace that allows you to do what you need to do correctly.
Being patient means moving at a pace that allows you to do what you need to do correctly. We all know the moment when we begin to rush. The marks that are going down just don’t look right, but we think “Oh, I’ll fix that later”. This lack of self-control will destroy your efficiency as an artist.
Work at a pace that allows you to control the number of mistakes you make. You will always make mistakes as a painter, but if you could make three versus ten due to rushing, your productivity will rise. Paint at a pace that feels relaxed, not rushed. This will always help your work.
Knowledge, intent, and pace will streamline your painting process and help you to become a productive artist. Setting intentions for your painting means having a plan to get to the end goal. So having knowledge, intention, and then being patient will always bring you to where you want your painting to be.
At first, it might feel like you’re painting slowly. However, because you aren’t going back and fixing things, the painting becomes a linear process from beginning to end, rather than circling back to fix mistakes.
So this is what really makes an artist efficient; a plan with a process attached to it. Knowing where you’re going, and then working at the right pace to ensure you get there.