July 12, 2012 | Alyson Stanfield Wasted? Elaine Kehew‘s art studio in Nairobi, Kenya. Used with permission. Deep Thought Thursday Is there such a thing as wasted time in the studio? share this post 43 comments add a comment Reply Rick DeTroyer July 12, 2012 AT 5:28AM Yes, Looking for tools. OR battling to take the time to spend a day (Or more) to just re-organize my studio. Reply Kim Bruce July 12, 2012 AT 2:46PM TOOLS, ah yes, I put them down, go do something else, then spend a few wasted minutes trying to find them again. I hate it when I do that. Reply Julie July 12, 2012 AT 6:01AM Yes, most definitely. But there’s a lot more wasted time outside of the studio than in. Reply Donna Pierce-Clark July 12, 2012 AT 6:10AM Nope! Never. Reply sandra burshell July 12, 2012 AT 6:17AM facing a blank canvas ……and requestioning my ability as an artist, even though I have artist for 40+ years…. Reply Paige Bacon July 12, 2012 AT 6:19AM No, just as there is never a wasted workout. I believe that even if all I do is sketch (stretch) for 15 minutes at least I have done something. Reply Cyndi L July 12, 2012 AT 6:51AM Yup! Cleaning up after a big project when I’m dieing to move on to the next one… :-) Reply Anna Keck July 12, 2012 AT 6:55AM No, definitely not. I am not always productive in my studio. The point is…I’m in there doing something. Period. If I’m in a productive slump…as long as I’m doing SOMETHING….the inspiration does come eventually. You just have to go with the creative ebb and flow. (Though sometimes when I’m not feeling productive, getting OUT of the studio for a while is helpful too.) The challenge is recognizing when you need these breaks, and allowing yourself to take them. Reply Sari Grove July 12, 2012 AT 7:03AM yes…sitting in a room, trying to come up with an idea, when you should really be outside…The world should be your studio…Not a room… Reply Bill L July 12, 2012 AT 7:15AM sleeping could be considered wasted time, but any other endeavor, creating art, cleaning up messy art, doing the business of art, thinking art, marveling at the green color of the fly eating yesterdays lunch, all good stuff, YOU ARE IN THE STUDIO!!! Reply Lindy July 12, 2012 AT 2:13PM Love the way you think! I would have to say, however, sleep is not wasted time either… you’ve got to rejuvenate to be able to create… and the subconscious is very busy when we sleep often solving problems we couldn’t solve when we were awake. So, wasted time in the studio? Probably never… remember when teachers called daydreaming “wasting time?” They probably weren’t art teachers! Reply Janet Vanderhoof July 12, 2012 AT 8:02AM No, unless your studio is also an office. But if is strictly a studio to create, never. Reply K. Henderson July 12, 2012 AT 8:06AM Yes. When you KNOW that you’ve made a bad start on a painting yet you refuse to admit it .You keep painting, wasting precious hours. There are thousands of good paintings waiting to be painted. Flogging the ‘dead horse’ is a waste! Reply Ruth de Vos July 13, 2012 AT 10:23PM Yes, that is what I was going to say – pushing on with a design that I know is not my best effort. I wasted hours on a large art quilt because I didn’t take enough time during the design phase. 10 years later I still have that (unfinished) quilt – a constant reminder to take the time where it’s important – sound design – rather than wasting time constructing something substandard. Reply Lynda Schlosberg July 18, 2012 AT 6:13AM Ah, but in all that flogging you learn something – even if it’s not what to do again, so in essence, not wasted time. Reply Lynne Oakes July 12, 2012 AT 8:26AM Unless it serves other purposes unrelated to your art, I don’t think time is wasted being in your studio no matter what you are doing. It is not possible to really measure what one ‘gets’ out of being in it, but I believe that being surrounded with one’s materials, books, easels, stuff on the walls and bulletin boards has a sort of subliminal effect that can’t be overestimated. The effects of this exposure seep into one’s soul and move one along. I do know that when I am in my studio, even when I am re-organizing stuff, or cleaning up, or talking on the phone, I feel the ‘call’ of what it is expressly for. Hmmmmmm I need to spend more time there! Reply Amy Musia July 12, 2012 AT 8:31AM In reading the comments, it seems the seasoned artists are the ones that get it. Being relaxed in the studio is the key and keeps the karma on a positive energy path. Getting stressed in the studio puts a negative energy around you and in your work. Artists breathe life into their work and your energy, positive or negative, will be reflected in it. What I read in many of the comments that some artist are just getting frustrated with a way of working, a concept and trying to force an outcome. When you force an outcome, the appearance and underlying feel of the work is forced or overworked. Relax!!! Breathe the process in….from cleaning your space to prepare for another project or piece to having the quite time to formulate new ideas and directions to rejoicing when a piece is finished or just that you have had an extraordinary day in the studio. Not every minute in the studio is about physical work and production. There are a myriad of stages in doing art. The foremost for me is that the studio is my creative safe space to reflect, formulate, research, test directions and/or produce art. Be at ease with your studio time………..and be at ease with yourself. Your work will grow as will you. Reply Christine Sauer July 12, 2012 AT 10:51AM I appreciate your comments Amy…right on target. I also think that often when you are just piddling around(being relaxed) or seemingly wasting time in the studio a flash of insight often comes when you are not directly thinking about a particular piece, process or problem. BTW love Elaine Kehew’s featured photo and work! Reply Elaine Kehew July 12, 2012 AT 10:58PM Thank you Chistine! I was definitely ‘wasting’ time when I came up with these vertical paintings :) Reply Amy Musia July 12, 2012 AT 11:22AM Thank you CS!! And YOU are absolutely correct. Some of my best AH HA! moments have been when the problem solving is turned over to the subconscious by the means of piddling around! fishing, vacation or just being out of the studio environment!! :) Reply SangiovanniArt.blogspot.com July 12, 2012 AT 11:34AM depends what your doing. If your working you are not wasting time. you might not like what you have created but you learn. Even if you are organizing you are creating a better space to work in which in turn helps the creative process. Reply Linda F. Hawkins July 12, 2012 AT 12:14PM For me, no time is wasted in the studio. Once I walk in the room, my mind takes on a different persona. I immediately begin thinking about what I could do with this or that (I am mostly a mixed media artist). The objects in my studio are inspirational and motivating and if I don’t happen to create something that day, the spark is simmering in my mind until I can get back in there to put it together. Sometimes I read about art technique, sometimes I organize, sometimes I am just looking at and touching my art materials. All of it serves to move me into my creative mind and keeps me coming back. Reply Brian Sommers July 12, 2012 AT 1:09PM YES! I’m a big fan of Virginia Cobb and her DVD http://ccpvideos.com/product/acrylic-abstract-painting-evolving-image-virginia-cobb# I bought it years ago and I have watched it at least 7 times by now.. just love it. It has helped me to push forward in my art. She talks about being able to stop, knowing only your next move, then if you don’t know what to do next, stop and walk away, or start something new..because if you keep adding things to it, you will only start wasting paint.. Reply Angela July 12, 2012 AT 7:17PM Having a good chunk of dedicated time in the studio helps me get into a groove. Also picking up after I’m finished. It’s a little thing but it is huge for mental clarity the next time I enter the studio. Reply NimbleOwl July 12, 2012 AT 7:47PM The only wasted time for me is when I doubt myself and compare my own path to those of other artists. Those thoughts accomplish nothing! Also, it seems like a waste of time to think too much about what your audience wants, instead of following your intuition. Reply Christine Sauer July 13, 2012 AT 10:57AM So true! It’s such a balancing act ot keep the gremlins out of the studio ’cause they are the true time wasters! Reply Barbara Muir July 12, 2012 AT 10:16PM HI Alyson, I don’t think time in the studio is wasted. Sometimes late at night I sit at my table picking at acrylic that’s dried on one of the plastic containers I use for mixing. I don’t have to do that. Nothing comes of it. I am spending nervous energy doing a senseless thing. I do like it when the paint comes off in one big swath (by the way Bob Burridge sticks these dried bits of acrylic paint onto his canvasses.) But the end result may be that a thought hits me about what to do tomorrow, or I forgive myself for what I thought was a mistake. I just heard an interview with David Hockney and he said he used to take the canvas he was working on and hang it on the wall by his bed, so it would be the last thing he saw at night and the first thing the next morning. So no I don’t think time in the studio is wasted. Love all of the comments here. Great topic. XO Barbara Reply Nicole Royer - Abstract Action Painter July 18, 2012 AT 11:34AM LOVE your post about picking off the acrylic paint blobs. That’s always so COOL for me too! Also like the idea about “sleeping” with your painting. I wish I could bring my half-finished work to my day job & stare at it :) Reply Therese Joseph July 12, 2012 AT 10:39PM only wasted time while in the studio is when I pick up the phone thinking it could be important and it turns out to be canvasser or a wrong number…. ahhhh!!! Reply Elaine Kehew July 12, 2012 AT 11:01PM I like playing in the studio, but it took me a few years to understand that this is not wasted time, but essential to come up with the next big idea. I really think that David Lynch’s book “Catching the Big Fish” speaks well to this- you have to go deep and ‘play’ or kind of ‘waste’ time to get to the next thing…. Reply Tina Mammoser July 13, 2012 AT 2:37AM Yes, but it doesn’t matter. I have many days where I go in intended to paint and just faff about. Usually wasted time (time I should paint or draw but don’t, but don’t do anything else useful either) is a sign that I need a day off. Something most of us full-time artists deny ourselves. “Wasted” is a emotive judgement call that I try not to make on myself as often as I used to. Reply Lori Woodward July 13, 2012 AT 7:17AM Not for me. Getting there is the difficulty. Reply Rebecca July 13, 2012 AT 7:58AM I don’t feel that there is any wasted time in the studio. There are times that I do not feel as creative or productive as I would like to be. I try and use those moments for other tasks. I might straighten up, reorganize a bookshelf, read, look through old sketchbooks, and do a mundane task that needs to be done, or just sit and pet the dog. Not each and every moment in your studio needs to be producing art. Sometimes you just need to let yourself breathe and be thankful you have creativity in your life and a space to express it in. Reply Heather Gordon July 13, 2012 AT 10:11AM The only time I waste in the studio is when I get distracted by a video game, email, or some other nagging bit of technology. Reply Rene Lynch July 15, 2012 AT 1:14PM No matter how much time I spend there, when I am in the studio, it is a good thing. I may not create anything worth keeping, but I can still extract something positive from the effort made. Sometimes it is OK to just go there to clean up and go through old stuff to see what is worth reviving and reworking. I do not have an internet connection at the studio on purpose, so I am not destracted by email, blogs, websites, etc. I am there to work and to play. Reply Dede Young July 18, 2012 AT 8:52AM Here’s a comment from the other side: If the studio is not well-prepared for a visit from potential supporters, I’d say an artist has wasted precious time. A less-than-optimum studio visit results from things like less-than-optimum lighting conditions (your work is diminished to viewers) or stored works being too difficult to pull out to show collectors, dealers, and curators who ask to see more work. Reply Nicole Royer - Abstract Action Painter July 18, 2012 AT 11:31AM No, not wasted. The coolest ideas can come from you just looking at or touching one material and then looking at or touching something else, suddenly a spark ignites something NEW you never would have thought of. Often times I will come home from a full day of looking at spreadsheets, answering emails, talking on TC’s and then all the frustration dissolves into my work and a new piece is born. Sometimes having too much time means you waste more. Reply Alyson Stanfield July 19, 2012 AT 10:41PM Nicole: Love your last sentence. It’s so true. Reply colleen attara July 20, 2012 AT 12:03PM No time in my studio is wasted. When I am not working on a commission, time spent in this very personal space is for experimenting, writing, and thinking of new ideas. Love that. Reply Jennifer Kistler July 22, 2012 AT 9:52PM No, as long as you’re doing something. Even if it doesn’t turn out well, you have learned something from what didn’t work. Even if you’re organizing tools, as long as it will help you remember what you have and/or find things better for your next project. Just getting in there and doing *something* will pay off down the line, in improved future work, if not also in immediate creation of good work. Reply Taylor Nichczynski July 24, 2012 AT 7:00PM For me, if I can come out at the end of the day feeling like I accomplished something nothing was wasted. Even if all I did was clean and organized, I spent my time doing something beneficial. Reply Crista Forest July 30, 2012 AT 11:24PM Yes, there is! I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time looking for the right color paint tube in a big heap! I looked around online for some sort of way to organize them so the color I wanted was easy to spot. I really couldn’t find anything that worked for my art studio. One morning while cooking eggs for breakfast I had this idea. Cheap, simple, and works great, believe it or not! http://forestwildlifeart.blogspot.com/2012/07/inexpensive-art-paint-tube-organizer.html Reply Alyson Stanfield July 31, 2012 AT 10:53PM Love it, Crista. Thanks for sharing! 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