Friday, November 18, 2005


I've been thinking about the routines of artists. While in Paris we went to the Picasso Museum, which was fantastic, and I loved Picasso's sketch books. There are so many of them, so full of interesting scratchings. It was especially interesting to see a sketch book that he used as he prepared for a major work, and then to follow that through to the finished piece. It was also heartening to see that a lot of what he sketched was not earth-shattering, in fact often it was pretty ordinary! I say this with the greatest respect, but I found it heartening as often I will create something and be frustrated as it's not as good as I think it should be. This made me realise that artists that do produce what they want, do so as a result of a lot of work - practice, practice, practice.

This then got me to thinking about the routines and discipline artists use to drive their development. So I searched around for some stories on artists and their routines:
This article in the NY Times (free rego required) is an interesting overview of the routine of a wide variety of artists.

Art:21 has a lesson focused on the routines and rituals artists make a part of their work, and it has links to interviews with a number of artists.

Robert Genn's The Painter's Keys has a list of quotes related to routines and art (this site is chock full of great information and you should consider signing up for the twice weekly newsletter - a lovely source of inspiration).

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way is all about using routines to release your creativity.

Sites like Illustration Friday are good for inspiring the regular output of work.

Then there are projects like Art Everday Month and National Novel Writing Month that would be great for developing a routine (safety warning - these are a big commitment!).

I know that at the moment I can't expect to create as much as I'd like, or to improve my work until I make creating a more regular part of my life. And even though a lot of the above links talk about huge commitments of time and energy, I'm sure it doesn't take that much of an effort - small steps are the best way to start.

I'd love to hear about the routines you follow...


maria said...

Great links Michelle! I liked the NYT article and the quotes.

I'm taking part in Art EveryDay Month, and it's wonderful! And one of the things that's really emerged for me is the notion of practice ... that artists are no different from athletes or musicians or dancers ... there may be natural talent there, but the great ones become great by practicing their craft for hours every day, and it's the same with art ... it requires daily practice to get better, learn new techniques, work with new tools and materials, and experiment, in order to produce something you're happy with.

Anyway ... having said all that, I don't think I really have any routines, except reading my email and blogs first thing in the morning, then moving on to whatever I'm doing that day (jewelry-making, etc.) I suppose reading the blogs often inspire me, so that's my excuse, but if I were more disciplined, I would do my creative work, THEN read blogs :-). Oh well ...

I do think routines are good, though, for the creative process, and given my experience with Art EveryDay Month, I now know I'd like to develop more of them.

frida said...

Thanks for the link to The Painter's Keys!

Swirly said...

I am still developing a new routine as an artist. I recently embarked upon an entirely new journey with my work. I was a commercial illustrator and designer for ten years, but a few months ago shifted gears to visual and fine arts (collage and painting.) I don't really have a routine yet, except that when I'm deep in my creative work, I ignore the phone!

I appreciate the links on this post, as I know I need to be more consistently disciplined with my work.