Sunday, 25 May 2014

Creating a Focus

Warm up practice for Soul Food lesson with Mitsi
Lists - I love them!  I make a list then check off everything I've done at work and in the house.  It gives me a sense of moving forward and accomplishing.  Many of you probably do the same thing.
But do you have a list for your art?  Unfortunately, I don't.
No list means bouncing from acrylics to photography to sketching then suddenly I'm working with fabric and whoops I'm back to acrylic again only this time it is abstract but I starting to make my own sketchbook which I put aside because I want to work on a quilt I started last year but never got around to finishing because I found an online course I just had to take. Of course, I want to make my own cards plus paint a picture of my great nephew and I also need to start that magazine collage picture I dreamed three years ago and started collecting paper for. 
Does this sound familiar?
The choices are endless and they are all tantalizing.  With the internet there are reams of ideas and courses and examples and inspiration for us to look at.
The problem?
No focus.
There are only 24 hours in a day and sleeping and eating are important! 
With great advice from Roz Stendahl I am putting some SELF-EVALUATION, FOCUS, and GOALS into action (go check out Roz's advice on these subjects but don't forget to come back and see where I am going with this post!).
Here's what I did. 
After some pre-thinking in which I wandered around my house in a daze, putting the dish soap in the fridge and a few other not-paying-attention events, I finally sat down at my desk and in 30 minutes I listed everything I could possibly think of at the moment that I wanted to try, learn, investigate and get good at.  Then I prioritized the list to the top four that really spoke to me.  Then I figured out how much of these projects I could realistically work on given the other commitments in my life (important commitments of course - family, work, walking the dog, etc.)
And voila!  I now have an ART LIST!
Note that I only spent 30 minutes.  I have this fear that all this thinking and planning and goal setting and evaluating will eat up my free time and I will become a slave to it instead of making time for art. You could spend an hour, or fifteen minutes or three days thinking and planning.  It is totally up to you.
Now I know which direction I want to go for the next month. You can choose to make your plan for  a week or two weeks or three months, but I figured a month would be good for me to test out whether it really is a realistic list or whether I am even good at following this list at all.
My list focuses on my Soul Food online lessons, sketching outdoors, sketching people, and participating in the summer skool spin-off class from the online course Sketchbook Skool that just finished.
If I focus on only these activities I should (ideally) see some advancement in these areas at the end of the month when I evaluate.  Then I can see what's working, what's not and change direction if I need to. 
The question is "Can you keep focused on what you have set out to work on this month or are you going to get distracted and run around your art table like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do a million things at once?"
So if you see me post pictures of the photos I've taken for this cool online photography class or I suddenly show you the latest wooden sculpture I've made, you will know that my focus was a bit off!
Oh yes, one more thing.
I made the list this morning. 
Cross your fingers for me and I'll keep you updated with how it's working and some of the pieces that come out of it.  I may end up looking like the person in the picture at the beginning of this post!
How do you manage your art focus? 
What do you do to keep from going in 50 directions at once? 
Is it a structured focus with written goals and evaluations or do you just set your mind in one direction and go with it? 
If you haven't made a focused art list, maybe you'd like to try it along with me. 
I'd love to hear what you're doing and how it's going!

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