Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Many tend to wonder how I manage to paint, run a mental health organization, teach and do my advocacy related work without losing my shit. It is in all honesty TIME-MANAGEMENT. Managing one's time requires focus, building & maintaining discipline, avoiding distractions, knowing your limitations AND staying true to your desire.
So, here is how my process looks like:
1. SAYING NO
It is always tempting to take on newer projects, learning that new course, doing that 'cool' thing - because we live in such a world where FOMO exist (Fear Of Missing Out). I just don't have to take on new projects because I do not invite such a need in my life that will tempt me.
I choose to want to paint. It is what I truly want and desire. Simply being honest to my desire for this basic act gives me the motivation to stay focused. This helps me plan my entire schedule and month out, based on 3 specific goals I wish to see completed.
Art has taught to me how to be consumed by the act of creativity, to let go of my shit, cut out distractions - which means not responding to phone calls, emails, not going out, compromising on many things in order to schedule time to complete that one painting. This also means many of you who have tried calling me would not have received an answer or reply in return, cause I'm in my flow. In my 'element'. Art is like love. Once in it, any interruption ruins the entire moment and outcome of it.
Once I have said yes to a buyer, I inquire about their deadline and let them know mine. I reconfirm their orders once I have completed my other work (mental health, teaching, advocacy). This ensures I am not overcommitting and not delivering because when the final piece is done: it is always a visible commitment and an extremely overjoyed collector as I 'over-deliver' in terms of the art created so to say. Any artist can tell you how satisfying it is to have finished a painting and hear your collector scream out over text message: 'OMG, I LOVE IT, It's so amazing, can't believe, I feel like dancing around now, It's gorgeous'.
A buyer/collector wants to be valued as it is an inherent human need. After all, one of my 'babies' are going to find a home with them forever - so this value is both ways. But this value does have a monetary attachment that cannot be underestimated. I don't necessarily share a personal relationship with all my buyers/collectors but my art does. When they know I also value their time, money and aesthetic experience almost every collector tells me 'No rush' although with a hint on the deadline which is mostly 2 months.
As the saying goes: GOOD & CHEAP won't be FAST. FAST & GOOD won't be CHEAP. CHEAP & FAST won't be GOOD. :) I am not a full time or commercial artist. Therefore my prices and value are also based on the identity of my experience and work over the years. This means I do not get to paint as frequently as other artist. Often I have an unplanned meeting, a crisis to attend to, an interview or need-based intervention - the work here never stops even during weekends. Thus, I do not like wasting time creating free or cheap art work when I can ensure my own paintings get a place in someone's home.
I do make other art works to satisfy my soul. During the ideation process, I am playing around with multiple ideas, mediums and styles while also (listening to webinar, podcast, watching NETFLIX). Purchasing of raw materials, arrangements for supplies are made in advance - as I hate stepping out of home ESPECIALLY if I am in the midst of my flow. I revisit my work schedule to see if there is anything I need to attend to urgently and complete it.
Following a 'high', I've learnt to conserve and direct my energy reminding myself "Now is a good time to use this energy for painting, so don't waste it". This way I don't need to engage in the sleepless nights artist syndrome as I am prone to seizures when I don't sleep. Do read the GUEST POST by Jennifer McGregor on my blog. I found it extremely useful to help me focus my life around getting good sleep (which I have struggled with forever!)
9. WAITING TIME
This is when the piece needs to dry. As I have switched to acrylics mostly, it takes anywhere from 24 - 72 hours. I sleep in the same room as I paint thus I cannot afford to use and inhale other mediums including oil pastels that leave a nasty after taste. During this time, I write my blog piece, update my websites, take good photographs of the painting, make records and organize them.
10. FINAL TOUCHES
This means touching up the painting in some areas, making sure no dust-pet hair sits on it (I use a tweezer to remove them), painting the corners of the canvas and placing my signature. 48 hours later - I will have to varnish it in my front yard. This does depend on the weather!
Taking high-resolution pictures of the painting in all possible light (day, twilight, night), making the letter of authenticity (soft & hard copies), contract (happens before making the painting too), checking on shipping processes, packaging, invoicing, documenting & archiving this entire process.
12. POST SHIPPING
Following up on the delivery. Hoping and praying nothing happens to the artwork during shipping. This is likely when I am truly holding my heart, restless and anxious. Requesting images of painting on the collector's wall when they receive it. Ensuring the smile on their face still remains. :)
People have referred to me being extremely talented and a genius to do the things that I do. I welcome all complements as equally as I would expect some to criticize me. But as Edison says "Genius is 1% intelligence and 99% perspiration". There are many intelligent, talented people out there but merely being talented or a genius does not get the job done for you. One does have to invest in a lot of otherwise 'boring' stuff to ensure this 'talented - genius' part becomes successful. Perfection as such does not exist but perfection in the process at every step is possible.