copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I've been prompted by a couple of posts I read recently on a productivity blog (see links at end ) about organisation and increasing productivity to ask all my readers two things:
- What's the one thing you do which increases your artistic productivity - BUT you've never read about it in a 'how to' art book?
- Which recommendation for improving artistic productivity do you tend to ignore - because it doesn't work for you?
My tip for artistic productivity
People like to draw in all sorts of different ways. I've always felt that anything which helps anybody to draw should be encouraged. For those of us who experience various aches and pains, being comfortable while drawing is a very important way of increasing our productivity.
I have problems with both sitting and standing due to a genetic inheritance which impacts on my soft tissue (eg ruptured insteps) and leads to falls. The injuries arising as a result have only exacerbated the existing problems.
This means trying to find a comfortable way of sitting for long period can be a bit of a trial. ;) I sometimes 'seize up' while sat still in my drawing class! While out sketching I sketch - for short periods only - resting on my knees or at a table. At home, I've had major reservations about using either a normal drawing board or table or an easel. I can't stand still for lengthy periods and need to sit wedged against a desk!
So, I've tried and tested all sorts of possible solutions over the years. I started to make progress when I came across the notion of a lap desk.
Nowadays, all my art is produced sitting in a comfortable armchair. I can get comfortable and find it very much easier to focus and concentrate and easily get lost for hours in my work as a result. It works particularly well for my work with coloured pencils but can also work well when I'm working on a large support with pastels - although I then tend to switch to the sofa which acquires a protective cover over the sofa cushions to avoid accidents plus I have wet wipes to hand at all times!
How do I work in an armchair? Well I've worked out all sorts of ways of making sure that I can have my materials to hand and can work at a suitable height and angle without compressing the circulation in my thighs! Click on the image at the top for a close-up view of my imaginary perspective of what I look like! I think I may need to try this one again.... ;)
- I sit in an arm chair with cushions supporting my lumbar region.
- I have flat surfaces to left and right for drawing materials. I usually have the colours on one side and the rest of the drawing tools on the other.
- 5mm foam core boards of various sizes are used as drawing boards. I use a board slightly larger than the size of paper I'm working on. Foamcore is very robust and extremely lightweight (It also makes a great drawing board to take on holiday as it can go in the bottom of the suitcase and doesn't eat into your weight allowance. Take two boards and sandwich all drawing paper inbetween to avoid damage)
- the advantage of using a 'free' board is that I can twizzle the board around to make drawing easier as I follow contours or create patterns with my pencils strokes
- I use and adjust a selection of firm and/or soft cushions and pillows on my lap to get the board at the right height and angle - which tends to vary with the size of the board.
- I've been tempted more than once by a lap desk but haven't succumbed as yet as I haven't found one lighter than my current arrangement. You can find various versions if you put 'lap desk' into a search engine and I've included some links below. I'm just waiting for the bright spark who comes up with a lightweight drawing board which can be angled and is also fitted with a lightweight micro-bead bottom.....
I'm afraid I'm not a huge fan of the inspirational artist books. I do know there are people who have found them enormously helpful for getting kick-started, continuing to make progress, moving up a notch and generally being productive - but somehow they just don't do it for me.
I think it's maybe because it all comes as a book with lots of pages whereas I think I prefer to read shorter and more focused pieces on a weekly basis in things like Robert Genn's Painter's Keys letters or Alyson B Stanfield's Art Biz Blog.
So what's your unique way of increasing your artistic productivity and which tip fails to 'hit the button' with you? If I get lots of interesting and really good answers I'll do a follow up post and link back to your blog - and any post in which you write about it.
I'd love to see your drawings of you being productive as well! :D