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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Inceasing Value and Quality of Studio Time

"Bugle Call" on peacock wing feather, available at Lucas Art Gallery, Graham WA

How do you enable yourself to stay at work for long hours in isolation in your studio? Have you found means through good music, scented candles, maybe a radio show? Do you find your enthusiasm waning after several hours with no one to speak to or listen to?

It's a problem that I'm sure all of us encounter from time to time. One can only take so much isolation at work with our craft before we just have to get out, have someone to talk with, see something different. Breaking up the monotony is most definitely needed with some degree of regularity, lest the very quality of our work stagnate and grow stale.

I try to toss in variety wherever I can. During the cold, gray, dark winter months though, that can be a challenge. When the weather is bright and the days are long, a quick escape into the mountains offers immediate reprieve and refreshes the spirit - the scents on the wind, the bright sun, so many colours in nature around us. When skies turn a cold gray, though, and access to those hiking trails become challenges in their own right, not to mention the short daylight hours keeping us on shorter treks, I've turned to breaking up the monotony within the studio.

Music certainly helps a lot, and adds so much to the working environment. My tastes in music are a little obscure, centering heavily on Scots-Celtic, or Trad. The internet has made obtaining such music so very easy where it would have been nearly impossible without. A cheerful tempo comes through on the other end of one's brush and adds lively strokes to the painting itself. After a while, though, one again feels wanting... for something.

I found all new steam within audio books. This was something my husband had turned to back when he drove long-haul. Books on CD made long hours in a truck much more endurable. I thought I'd try this option in the studio. I began with "The Other Queen" by Philippa Gregory. I'm a sucker for an historic story, and was stuck between this and "Master and Commander". I must say I am amazed at how a good story well read and told can make the studio hours fly by! Even more so, at the end of the book I was amazed at the amount of production that had flown across my table!

Yes, I think I can spend the remainder of these dark months working away, and I don't think "cabin fever" is going to get the better of me as it once had. Now instead of selecting music labels, I'm also selecting book titles for studio time. I am looking forward to trips down to the library to see what sort of history books they might have on CD, or historic fiction- or any sort of adventuresome tale to liven up the work. Hmmm, a fifteen-hour book? Oh yes, I should think I can get a LOT of work done while listening to that!


Karie said...

Hi Julie,

I work through the day, I have a very active outdoors job so when I get home I find my art a relaxing thing, I expect you are lucky enough to do your art full time but as mine is limited timewise I don't need to keep myself going, just need to keep myself awake!!! I love your feather art by the way.

Oisín said...

I do the music thing. I can't work without my iPod next to me -- a habit I picked up from working with my mom in her cleaning business as a kid. I've also gone the route of audiobooks, which has the side-effect of assuaging my guilt at not setting aside time to read. Haven't done that for a few years now, though. In fact, today may be the day to revive that.