In our modern times of digital dancing between apps and sites it becomes quite an effort to see a task through from beginning to end without distraction. Distraction, for me at least, means the end of the day comes round and I am left with lots of unfinished tasks on my to do list. I realise this is because I am not focusing my efforts. I allow distractions to enter into the task on hand, no matter how important the task is. Distraction is a destroyer. It destroys achievements, brain-power and confidence. The ABC of getting things done. So here are my tips on staying focused:
Switch off the telephone, emails and notifications – learn to deal with them twice a day (at most) at set times (others will soon realise the best time to get a response from you quickly)
Break each task down into a collection of smaller sub-tasks – list the steps it will take to complete the task and mark how long each step is likely to take. That way you get an idea of how long it will take you to accomplish the task.
Make an agenda for the day – set yourself a timetable with at least two short breaks and a longer one for lunch. Pee and tea are two necessary self-care obligations!
Prioritise the tasks – I go with a maximum of three ‘must do’s and three ‘would like to do’s.
Don’t be afraid to diary non-immediate tasks or tasks with deadlines (I often make appointments with myself for specific tasks).
Do the most difficult or the most dreaded task first – that way when it is done the others will be easier to do and perhaps even quicker to finish.
Stick with the task in hand – finish it before going onto the next and that way you will not be carrying unfinished work into the next task (that just becomes another self-made distraction)
And last but no least, switch off the music, television or any other background noise. The brain still absorbs what it is hearing.
Just as an add-on to this subject, a book that may be useful in the quest for becoming more focused is DEEP WORK by Cal Newport.
This week has drifted into lots of time consuming activities; the tweaks and touches of bringing together a plan. New studio, new location (but not too far away) new contacts. I’ve even been working on a new marketing strategy and trying to get my head round lots of technology that addles my brain. Tweaking the online presence, adding welcoming touches to old ways. A gift came my way this week which will add a welcome touch to my studio visitors – a lovely doormat for my new studio. It was my birthday yesterday and the mat was a very thoughtful gift.
I reached the official title of ‘old person’ this week. The burden of being young no longer weighs me down – instead it is time to bring out the Jenny Joseph ‘purple’. Artists do not retire, they just become more ‘out’ everything. Outspoken. Outlandish. More ‘outside the norm’. So instead of retiring I am moving out. Out of clutter and into a new space (soon).
Some of the ‘tweaks’ I have been doing is to update some very out of date social media platforms. Also joining new ones. My website needs tweaking too by taking out the old and putting in some new. That will perhaps need to be carried forward to next week.
On Friday past I signed the lease for my new studio. The next two weeks will be taken up with packing up the art paraphernalia that has been squashed into my home since I moved out of the old studio. Oh it will be so good to have a ‘home’ once more without having to step over, manoeuvre round art clutter.
Moving in day is 1st May and I plan to take most of May to sort out some DIY (shelving etc), a hanging system plus creating a relaxing and efficient working environment. I have been so fortunate to find premises ‘on the high street’ with a small ‘gallery’ space. June is likely to be taken up with creating some new works, some in a larger format.
I am aiming for the 1st of July as my Opening Event so fingers crossed that our old enemy Covid does not intervene with more restrictions or another lockdown.
A new beginning after some very long difficult months …
Testimonials are so wonderful to receive. Artists, by nature, are prone to self-doubt. We doubt our ability, our technical expertise, our value in the work we do and the list goes on! Then along comes a letter or email from a satisfied customer to say how much they are delighted with their purchase. All of a sudden the artist feels s/he has the validation to continue working. Being an artist is an emotional see-saw.
When times are difficult, sales are slow and interest wanes because of many factors outside of our control, then we need these words of gratitude to encourage us to keep going. This week I had my ‘feel good about myself as an artist’ when a customer emailed me to say this:
“Dear Ainethon Arts,
thanks so much – I’ve now received the artwork I ordered on your website. Such a great piece of work and so beautifully packaged too! It’s a delight- my partner loves it too and he is going to have a look at your website and order from you as well. I am off to have another look too, and I know I am going to enjoy looking at this piece for a very long time! Thanks again, Chris”.
A big thank you goes out to this customer for taking the time to write to me about her purchase.
My working week has been taken over with progressing the new studio preparations etc. Trying to keep my focus on producing artwork is quite a juggle at present. There is a saying that comes to mind “don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers”. And spring certainly is in my mind, as flowers are too for some reason. This today I have spent my time producing some giclee prints and greetings cards from two of my flower still life paintings. I can’t say that I can smell these flowers but I can sense a degree of satisfaction in getting some work completed this week.
I’ve also spent some time designing a variety of card wraps; a paper band to go round a pack or set of greetings cards. I’m quite pleased with the end result and will use these wraps to make up packs to sell both online and in public locations/events.
All in all a good day. A productive day. I must remember though that I am cooking dinner tonight!
Well here we are, heading off into another weekend, and work finished or being finished this week is rather sparse. What I have been working on though is producing some proofs of small giclee prints which will build up my affordable art stock for online and studio sales [hopefully this will be possible later in the year].
The above photograph shows the six new 7x7cm giclee prints I hope to bring out in the next week or so. Again these will be offered either with mount unframed, or small frame unmounted [with spacer to keep print off glass]. The prints are produced using pigment inks on 360gsm canvas.
I feel the four bothies could do with a bit more adjustment so I’ll carry that forward to next week. The Thistles prints are fine but again I’ll give a small tweak to adjust the sizing [they are about 0.3cm out on the horizontal]. Honesty has turned out perfect first time so that will get framed today.
I like to do an Artist’s Proof when I bring out a new edition print. Sometimes I hit it right first time, sometimes it takes me one or two prints to get it just as I want it. I don’t usually sell the proofs but keep them for myself as reference material. Occasionally though I do sell them for a slightly reduced price which is contrary to the normal practice of selling proofs for 20%-50% more than the limited edition print. [The quality of the Artist’s Proof is equal to that of the Limited Print, there are just fewer proofs made].
Thursdays are normally my day set aside to finish work in progress. Half the day is gone already with grocery shopping and putting away. Even artists need to eat! I don’t see me getting much time to finish any project or artwork today as I have a zoom meeting this evening with the Mavericks Art Group and I have some prints to get ready to post out to customers. Perhaps I’ll carry forward the Finishing Day to the weekend …..
The picture above shows one of the things I started this week: Covid Diary (WIP). I’d like to finish this and get it off the easel. Not sure what I’ll do with this painting or where it will go. Maybe it will just become another one of those studies …..
Today is the last day of the first quarter in 2021. Tomorrow starts the second quarter and that is usually one of the busiest times for me. It’s the ‘headache’ quarter; the three months of trying to do everything and usually all at once. It’s the time where I have to ‘wear all the hats’ and try to stay focused and organised. As an artist that is not easy!
One of the things I try to do in April is to plan for some CPD (continuous professional development) that will take me through this second quarter then with some low-key learning through to November, missing out December because I am always too busy with Christmas things to learn anything. The focus for my learning 2021 will be on printing and a new skill to learn will be burning. Pyrography that is, not arson! I’d also like to learn how to produce some YouTube workshops as I don’t envisage being able to do any face-to-face workshops for some time due to this pandemic we are in. I’ll continue with the occasional ‘Try this at home’ learning blog for anyone wanting to have a go with art.
Don’t you just love it when a plan come together? And more so when it is earlier than anticipated. First quarter I have achieved finding a ‘room mock-up’ website and signed up to it for the next year. What a difference it makes when customers can see how a piece of art will look in a room setting. Just as we are almost out of the first quarter of 2021 I have managed to set up another website: https://www.anniemclean.art/ which is fairly simple but am happy with it as it gives me another platform and a “.art domain. Still not managed to sort out the galleries and artwork pics on my main website though so will have to ping off an email to the ‘main bods’ for them to sort.Roll on next quarter – I am ready to work!
Next quarter will see some progress on finding a suitable studio to move in to and also the start of a new marketing strategy on moving forwards. In preparation for moving to and setting up a new studio I intend to offer some artwork at a 30% discount. A post every Monday with that week’s offer. That’s a long spring sale! Thirteen weeks of big reductions. I do need to reduce the stock I am storing. Visit me on my Facebook Page to see what is on offer each week.
To start the ball rolling the illustrated artwork above is the first up and will be ‘live’ on Monday 5th April 2021. Free UK postage.