Daily studio rituals

Dear Artist, Much has been written about the creativity-stimulating rituals of writers because, well, they wrote about it. Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day, Hemingway drank to write, prolific novelist George Simenon (400 books) said he made love to over 10,000 women (to be fair, his second wife said it was closer to 1200). Good stuff about regularity in painters is a little harder to dig up: Henri Matisse (1869-1954) figured the main problem for painters was boredom. Apart from appearing never to stop painting, he contrived to fill his life with a menagerie of birds and animals and the constant coming and going of models, students and admiring friends. Joan Miro (1893-1983), fighting lifelong depression, forced himself into a rigid life of early rising, strict hours, little socializing, active physical exercise (punching bags, barbells, etc.), exactly three cigarettes after lunch and regular naps of no more than ten minutes’ duration. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) was a night owl who figured wine, women and song were the best bet. He stayed as long as bars and brothels were open, drank aperitifs for breakfast and spent much of the afternoon with “American Mixed Drinks.” (His favourite, “Maiden Blush” was a combo of champagne, absinthe, mandarin, bitters and red wine). He died at age 36. “Speak for yourself,” said a friend when I told him we artists are best off living a quiet, well-regulated life. I still think there’s value in early morning arrival in a studio running on empty and spending a steady day trying to make the cup froth over. Uninterrupted hours draw you back and back again to solving your main problem — that thing that’s on the easel. Oh yes, walk with Dorothy, check the mail and the email, soft music or radio info, chatting on the headset-telephone while painting, feeding the wild birds and pencilling in projects. If you think your own daily ritual might be of interest or value to others, please drop us a note and tell us about it. We’d all love to hear from you. Best regards, Robert PS: “One’s daily routine is a choice, or a series of choices. In the right hands, it can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources.” (Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals; How Artists Work) Esoterica: “Things get even trickier,” says Mason Currey, “if you’re married and have kids. A lot creative people conveniently solved this problem by finding absurdly supportive, almost self-abnegating partners. Freud’s wife not only took care of all the household and child-rearing duties, but she laid out his clothes, chose his handkerchiefs, and even put toothpaste on his toothbrush. Thomas Mann’s wife ensured that their children made no noise between 9 a.m. and noon, his prime writing hours, and between 4 and 5 p.m., when he took his nap. Gertrude Stein relied on Alice B. Toklas to manage all of the practical details of their life together.” Some girls get all the breaks.   Primed by impulse to show off by Carl Nelson, Seattle, WA, USA  

“Boy of Steel”
digital photograph

I write plays (or play-like prose). I find having an audience always waiting to be pleased greatly helps arrange my days and gets my work done. The impulse to show off is always keeping my work uppermost in mind. I’m thinking of what I’m going to write, even when I’m doing other things like shopping, exercise, working, cooking etc. I’m planning the next scene and further scenes; plotting this and imagining the dialogue of that. This way, I’m primed to ‘get it down’ when I finally have arranged a little quiet time to sit at the desk. There are 2 comments for Primed by impulse to show off by Carl Nelson
From: Jim Oberst — May 10, 2013

How refreshingly honest!

From: Mariane — May 10, 2013

…agree with last comment, and add…it sounds like real fun too!

  Weather dictates activity by Susan Marx, Orange, NJ, USA  

“Summer Garden”
acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24 inches
by Susan Marx

Since I am a plein air painter, my daily ritual is obsessing about the weather and the weather reports, wondering if I will have painting, weather or not. I am often surprised at the last moment, and am ready to go paint in an instant. My paints and brushes, portable easel, etc. (my studio) is in the trunk of my car. I make sure a few containers of water are always there, too. On Spring days on which it is impossible to paint due to rain or strong wind, I sit and look and try to think what colors I would use to paint what I see in front of me. So, even when I am not painting, I am painting. What I find interesting, if I return back to a scene that I was unable to paint due to inclement weather, is when I wind up painting, I often do not use the colors I thought I would use. The mood and the color are different when I am standing barefoot on the grass by my easel with my palette in hand. There are 2 comments for Weather dictates activity by Susan Marx
From: Pamela — May 11, 2013

And of course the light is different in fine weather than in rainy weather! That surely has more to do with the different colors than standing barefoot :-)

From: Susan Marx — May 11, 2013

Of course, all color is dependent on what the light is at the time. But I expericence that color better when my feet are barefoot on the grass.

  Paid by rituals by Bob Ragland, Denver, CO, USA  

“Last Lite Pines”
oil painting, 8 x 12 inches
by Bob Ragland

My ritual is to do all of my outreach by real postal mail each day. I spend the top half of my day being in touch with people. I send out illustrated mail. The envelope and letter is colorful. I make my to-do list, plan on getting two or three things done. I make my plan for the second half of the day. I may paint, draw, or sculpt. If I am stuck, I hit the books. I have a full art day every day — on purpose! My rituals get me paid. There are 2 comments for Paid by rituals by Bob Ragland
From: Anonymous — May 10, 2013

Lovely painting

From: valerie norberry vanorden — May 16, 2013

I do the same, calligraphy is on my mail, sometimes a bird or a flower. I have a small mailing list.

  Classical music, half-hour breaks by Kathleen Zann, New York, NY, USA  

“Warm Reflection”
watercolor, 28 x 24 inches
by Kathleen Zann

I think the best way to paint is to understand one’s own needs and follow them strictly. I have no set ritual but I do know how I work best. If I’m in the zone and the painting is cooperating, sometimes I am so focused that nothing can distract me, but that is not often. Since my only medium is watercolor, reversal of a mistake is difficult. I know I have to take breaks at least every half hour and if my mind starts to wander I stop painting immediately for fear of ruining the painting. I work best in the morning but getting to the studio early is difficult with household maintenance, gym attendance and family obligations. I am easily distracted so I can’t wear headphones, talk on the phone or have a television, computer or conversation on nearby. I can’t have a completely quiet workplace either so I listen to classical music on the radio so that every half hour or so the news is broadcast and I hear from the outside world. Sometimes, depending on the painting subject matter, classical music doesn’t do it and I really need a blast of Stones or Blues which, since I share a space with 6 other artists who only tolerate classical music, I can do only if I am there alone. But I have a studio with fabulous natural light, time to paint and a supportive family — life is good. There are 4 comments for Classical music, half-hour breaks by Kathleen Zann
From: wanda — May 10, 2013

Hey, I love this painting. Watercolor is so fascinating and you certainly know how and what to do with the medium.

From: marjolaine robert — May 11, 2013

It is a really beautiful painting.

From: Jeanette R. — May 11, 2013

Wonderfully composed painting!

From: Jackie Knott — May 13, 2013

Very nice, particularly the reflections in the floor.

  Feeding senses with aroma, beautiful sound by Gena Lacoste, Medicine Hat, AB, Canada  

watercolour painting
by Gena Lacoste

I’m a watercolour (mostly) artist living in Medicine Hat, and am into my 3rd year with a daily painting blog (along with other projects as well), and I need to get my “daily rituals” done first thing in the morning. The routine of getting my body and mind “sorted” and then clearing away the potential for worry by making myself aware of what is going on “out there” prepares me to go into the “zone” by feeding my senses with aroma and beautiful sound. That zone is, for me, the most intensely satisfying place to be and that time every day is critical to my feeling of being at one with all that is good in the world.   Raucus lifestyle leads to self-imposed absences by Ron Bartczak, Newport Beach, CA, USA  

City of Costa Mesa sponsored SOBECA artwalk at ‘the Lab’ Artery Gallery 2/26/2013

A “Quiet, well-regulated Life?” That sounds like a snorer to me. I find that a wild, loud, and raucus lifestyle leads me to look forward to the peaceful, quiet hours of painting in the solitude of my studio. I purposefully don’t paint every day (and I truly love painting in my studio). NOT painting every day, makes me look forward with great expectation, to those days that I do paint. My most “satisfying, and productive” days in the studio, are usually those days following a self-imposed absence of two or three days. (There have been times following those days where, upon returning, I have painted from day break well into the evening hours and spent the remainder of the night asleep on an old studio sofa covered with a well worn Pendleton blanket, to arise the following day ready to continue. It doesn’t get any better than that! Which keeps my “expectation” level high and my creative output satisfying? I have yet to be bored or at a loss when entering my studio. As far as being quiet and well regulated? I don’t think that’s for me. There is 1 comment for Raucus lifestyle leads to self-imposed absences by Ron Bartczak
From: Jackie Knott — May 13, 2013

Whatever rocks your boat … pun intended. I left sailing long ago and the problem with wild, loud, and raucus is it lingers in the mind like a wake of muddied water. I understand the studio breaks; forced work looks exactly that. I much prefer quiet contemplation.

  Happier after car accident by Grace Howl, Sarasota, FL, USA  

“On the Edge of Time, Space and Reason”
by Grace Howl

I’m an intuitive painter and thinker. I’ve written short stories, poetry and quite a bit of ‘self-talk’ /inspirational stuff that keeps me motivated. I find life inspiring and therefore never lack for ideas for either art or writing. As for my ritual, I try to arrive early, although that usually means 9:00 a.m. or after, as I tend to stay late. I’d prefer to paint in natural light, so the late night painting is difficult. I sometimes listen to music, other times I find it distracting. I get so involved in my work that time vaporizes, even forgetting to eat. My painting distracts me from my physical pains as well. Although I do remember to drink lots of water every day!! I suffered from a bad car accident several years ago, which left me with some brain deficit. As therapy, I started using art as a means of communication. Initially, I cursed the accident, but now I’m thankful for it. It took quite a while for me to understand the limitations of my new life. Now I see images, where words and numbers used to dominate my life. But I’m happier now. My whole life has changed and I’m loving it. There are 4 comments for Happier after car accident by Grace Howl
From: suzanne jensen — May 10, 2013

great composition and texture in that painting, just love it!

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — May 10, 2013

I am glad you found art…or it found you. Is that painting in acrylic?

From: Cristina Monier — May 10, 2013

I really loved your painting! I live in Buenos Aires and recently a very important brazilian painter had a big show at a modern art Museum, the Malba and she did this trick of painting tiles in the background and I just loved it. Congratulations and keep it up!

From: Anonymous — May 10, 2013

great painting

  Small dedicated space enhances production by Christine Gedye, Seattle, WA, USA  

Christine Gedye in the studio

Three weeks ago I rented a bland little studio about a mile from my house. It’s a 10′ x 16′ room (with high ceilings and good natural lighting) which is solely for making art. The small, dedicated space means everything is handy, no running around the house looking for this, that, or the other thing. When I worked from home, it was far too easy to get distracted by anything and everything. I keep the space simple, there is no phone, no distracting paperwork, and I don’t even have Wi-Fi (Woohoo!). I enjoy a beautiful walk to my new studio, walking through parks, rose gardens and even past the zoo. I use this time to plan out what I want to accomplish at the easel that day. I find that when I arrive, I am revved up and clear headed. I turn on some music, make myself a cup of tea, and start painting, with focus. Somehow even my dogs know it is a place of quiet, and manage to hold their tongues when they hear noises. After a few hours, I will take a break to eat a light lunch, check for urgent emails on my cell phone, then go for a short walk with the dogs to get some fresh air. Then, back to the studio for at least three more hours of painting. The lack of distractions is a revelation, and the routine of “going to work” has resulted in enhanced productivity that will more than cover the added expense. I’m probably in a “honeymoon” phase though; walking there in the rainy, dark, Seattle winter might not be quite as inspiring. There is 1 comment for Small dedicated space enhances production by Christine Gedye
From: valerie norberry vanorden — May 16, 2013

You’re living my dream of having a dedicated studio and bringing my dogs to work with me. Keep up the good work, and invest in a good umbrella.

  Please, no rituals by Danny McFadden, Newark, NJ, USA  

by Anupam Nath

I don’t have, don’t want, rituals. A ritual is an action performed in a customary way, by custom, done a certain way for a long time and generally accepted. Acceptance is an indication that you approve of or believe in it. Belief is an idea one accepts as being true or good — something desired. No, I don’t want rituals. I’m not satisfied enough to accept rituals — always, there must be a better way and, always, I try to find it. My daily rituals are my daily discoveries. I question — as Robert often asks, “What could be?” — I ask, “What could be better?” Dissatisfaction is discontentment, the opposite of contentment. To be content is to be pleased and satisfied, a recipe for mediocrity, as Robert attests. Excellence means “the very best” — seemingly out of reach but, by many, much desired. The desire for excellence forbids acceptance. Improvement is a change for the better. Change for the better is a necessity. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” (Latin proberb) BTW, I do bathe every day with water and soap — have not yet found a better way of getting clean — but do experiment with how it’s done (not always the same order, same wash-hand, same locale). Outside in the lake is good, but not better — no soap. (I respect the environment.) There are 2 comments for Please, no rituals by Danny McFadden
From: Jane Dow — May 10, 2013

Well put! All mentioned were men! Cheers!

From: Cristina Monier — May 10, 2013

I do not believe in rituals either, I just paint when an insane need to do it cames over me, which is almost all the time. I like Toulouse Lautrec`s idea, though, and as I am almost 78 years old, I do not have to worry to die at 36.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Daily studio rituals

From: Laurel Alanna McBrine — May 06, 2013

I have never been good at keeping routines of any kind (I seem to always have the problems of other people interfering in addition to my own propensity to distraction) but I do see the value of living that way and it is looking more attractive at this stage of my life.

From: Sridhar Ramasami — May 06, 2013

My ritual: Wake up at about 5am, Get out of bed by about 6am. Go for a 30 minute walk. Have breakfast. Then start painting or do marketing work. About 11:30 cook lunch. Finish lunch at 12:30, then a one hour nap. Then painting/marketing again till about 6 pm. Go for a bike ride for one hour and visit some artist friends. From 7 to 10pm anything goes. Then sleep.

From: Susan Holland — May 06, 2013

The light has a lot to do with what my routine will be on an art day. I have always responded to dawn and dusk, and like any normal cat, like my nap. But what fills the mornings depends on what was going on in the studio when I left it last night. I like to set up a “next part” in the evenings. My head holds that thought overnight, and very often ideas come in my sleep! If so, it is hard to keep me from rushing out at daybreak to get started. Then there are the dark days of winter (I live in the Pacific NW). These days are best spent by the fire doing small and cozy things. Like the cat.

From: Chris — May 06, 2013

Likewise, I set up the next part the evening before and contemplate what to do the next day. I expect to be interrupted so cherish those early morning hours and paint when it is quiet. Coffee, breakfast and no morning news. Get some air, go for a walk, talk to the animals and then the buzz of life and work just starts to happen…..so I just give my all to it. Then, as evening settles, I start planning again for the next day. Maybe, I won’t be the most accomplished of artists, but I enjoy staying engaged with the world because I get ideas and energy from all that is outside as well as what comes from within.

From: Mike Barr — May 06, 2013

Oh to be able to have the opportunity to plan a studio day. I represent all those artists who have a 9-5 day job and fit in painting when they can. We don’t have the luxury of messing around when we do settle to paint – we have to get right into it! Some of us also have to clear the dining room table and set up our makeshift studio. I salute you!

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland — May 07, 2013
From: Carolyn Caldwell — May 07, 2013

Before facing the blank canvas every morning I do a 15 minute meditation followed by about 5 or 10 minutes of EFT tapping. The meditation centers me and the EFT tapping neutralizes all my fears and negative thoughts that block my creativity and puts me in a zone of creative inquiry.

From: Brigitte Nowak — May 07, 2013

Mike Barr’s comment (re 9 to 5 priority) reminded me how lucky I am, now that I am retired, and have the luxury of painting time whenever I choose. But during my working life, I used to devote about four hours a day to artwork. The schedule: get up at 6 a.m., do house chores, go to work. Come home, walk dogs, make supper, play with/ do homework with the kids. (The kids knew that they had my attention till 9 p.m. After that was “mummy’s time”, and they might get yelled at if they came into my studio at inopportune times). Paint till 12 or 1 a.m. Not everyone can get by on five hours of sleep, but making time for art was a priority for me (as was eating, hence the job). It meant that when I retired (early), I had had several solo exhibitions under my belt and had built up a bit of a resume, so could approach galleries with some credibility and confidence.

From: Dee Lessard — May 07, 2013
From: Dwight — May 07, 2013

With a life like that no wonder Miro was depressed. It’s been said I could paint in a traffic jam and that’s kept me happy for 80 years.

From: Jamie Kirkland — May 07, 2013

I found the daily practice of meditation to enhance every aspect of my life particularly in my ability to focus and connect with my work. I also keep an old Illy coffee can with a lid outside of my studio door. When I arrive I remove the lid and place all of the disturbing topics of the day .. economy.. congress.. white house.. environment.. politics ect….. issues in my own relationships.. the art market.. what galleries may or may not be doing.. shows I have entered….. ect. I gently close the lid go inside light incense put on my apron and commence I am in a fret free zone! This really works!

From: Jill Bukovnik — May 07, 2013

I know a very successful artist who has four children 4 & 5 years of age. She paints between the hours of 8:00 pm & 1:00 am everyday in her detached garage converted into a studio. She needs no solitary time. She talks with her mom & friends on her headset-telephone while she paints & listens to music. When she demo’s in front of a crowd, she finds it very easy to talk and paint at the same time. She welcomes conversation as she paints. When she comes to our small town of Invermere, BC & demo’s outside Artym Gallery where her work flies off the walls, I’m standing right there soaking in all her knowledge & conversation. She’s laid back, easy going & loves to talk with any child that watches her. Me on the other hand…..please don’t interrupt me as I paint. I have my earphones on listening to music & I’m in my own world painting.

From: Jan Phillips — May 07, 2013

I spend one hour in silence before going to my studio. I listen carefully for direction and have my journal at the ready for impulses and ideas that stream into my satellite dish. sometimes whole poems come in nearly finished. if I start to get dull in the studio, I go outdoors, take of my shoes and socks and sink my bare feet into the earth. this energizes me again and I’m ready to write.

From: Carmen Beecher — May 07, 2013

How I envy you and your uninterrupted hours. The “Esoterica” section made me realize what I really need to gain that sort of time, a wife!

From: Tatjana M-P — May 07, 2013

My one ritual is – no computer on weekends, including no digital devices of any kind. Weekends are exclusively for making art and quality time with quality people.

From: ReneW — May 07, 2013

Interesting letter, Robert and various comments by readers as well. Roughly six months ago I relocated to a different part of Texas. Left my friends and artist buddies behind. My routine is shot and I feel I have to start from scratch. Not an easy thing to do in a new environment. So I have my work cut-out for me in the social aspects of art and life in general.

From: Gary Barr — May 07, 2013

Thank you for you wonderful thoughts and advice. Your kind generosity has been a great and encouraging gift to we who struggle “keeping the wolves away from the door”.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — May 07, 2013

Too bad there weren’t any reality shows at that time, those guys would make big bucks!

From: Colette Dorais — May 07, 2013

Wine, women and song are good for men artists and not a choice for most women artists. Any information on rituals for women artist to maintain the ‘beat’?

From: Leonard Skerker — May 07, 2013

Most of Simenon’s 10000 women were hookers, by admission. If you figure 5/wk (?conservative), easily achieved in 40 years. If Lautrec jumped upon all his hired subjects, he must have had great stamina to complete those vigorous works. That might explain his early death, but that is just puritanism speaking. Certainly would like to see the most interesting or best work routines you get sent.

From: B.J. Adams — May 07, 2013

I need Freud’s wife. Then, besides Freud’s wife I need a secretary. The digital age added a need for more hours. Checking email in the early morning while breakfasting but sometimes that takes till noon (can’t miss the Robert Genn’s, necessary for my survival, letters). Used to open mail during lunch and then answer if and when there was time. All the rest of the time is left to the studio, but life does interfere, too often. Help. I need that ordered scheduled life.

From: Julianne Biehl — May 07, 2013

I notice all your examples of artists are men. What about women? I can tell you. I always said that “Mr Matisse never had to do dishes.” A woman artist’s routine very often includes housework and children. Yet one can not deny the fact of being an artist all one’s life. Talk about frustration, a daily routine of frustration.

From: Rosemary Avery — May 07, 2013

I must admit, the unorthodox rituals of some of these artists appeals to me, try a good martini and watch your creative juices flow (but don’t try a good martini and drive), possibly some of the political fellows would try a martini for lunch and then see how they deal with the problems of the world. I am finding here is Canada, where we have a wonderful prime minister but leaves his sense of humour buried deep while in Parliament, that Canadians are not much fun and lack a sense of humour! Oh well! Onward and upward to that martini to enhance my creative juices and what ever else.????.(yep humour and colour are the Canadian way of spelling)

From: Rachael Ikins — May 07, 2013

I am a creative person who requires a lot of stillness and silence to function best. If my life becomes too much rushing, jump in the hot car to zip here, there, tons of emails or phone calls, I cant work. I start my day slowly with a book and coffee in bed with my cat and dog. I lie on my back indoors, outdoors and stare up at nothing. It isn’t really “nothing”, it recharges my brain as I watch shadows made by the fan fluttering a curtain or clouds and birds floating past. In the evening around 8pm, I keep the lighting low. If I have the television on, it, too is low. Often I don ‘t look at it. I am a sensitive type of person who becomes easily overloaded and overstimulated. Just navigating the current speed of those around me multitasking overloads me into inertia. When I do paint, however, as opposed to writing for I am both a visual artist and a writer (who just released a novel). I need music to distract my brain from what the brush is doing. Writing demands quiet. But painting needs music and movement. I don’t like our current societies trending toward faster is better and more things at once is better. I think a detail oriented sponge of an artist like me can easily become lost in that madcap kind of life. Be your own island of stillness. Those are my thoughts.

From: Carolina Medina — May 07, 2013

I think one of the best organizing tools of my life is that I have TWO passions: Art and Psychology. Besides working in my studio as a painter, I work 3 nights a week as a Psychotherapist. I also socialize with friends; movies, dinner, theatre, museum visits, walks etc. about 3x a week, and I see my family, kids and g’kids, who are not close by about 2 days a month. I also read a lot, Psych related stuff, Art related stuff, and other. I spend little time cooking and eating, but I am always very careful about my diet. I spend no time housekeeping, I pay someone to do that. I spend little time on the computer, I pay someone to do that. I have stopped doing my own photography and now pay someone to do that. I took out every blade of grass at my little house and planted bushes and flowers. Now I have almost no work outside. I drive an “03 Honda Element which nicely hauls all my art around to shows, customers, etc. and nicely hauls all my equipment to the beach forest, etc.and never, ever has given me one moment of trouble. I only wear jeans, I have a couple of black pairs for formal occasions, and I wear nothing that needs ironing or dry-cleaning. My hair is very short and I get the local barber to cut it. (I’m female). I take Melatonin and sleep well. I pray a lot and laugh a lot. I am 70. It takes awhile, I think, to figure out The Good Life. Am I there? I think I’m well along the trail. Everyone has snags and losses every day. But Joy for others and a Great Painting is nearby too. Live Mindfully. Be blessed y’all!

From: Joyce Washor — May 07, 2013

Part of my ritual is to set my mind thinking the night before for the next day’s painting. For example, if I’ve just done a painting like the one included here, I may set a goal for myself of painting an arrangement with all white flowers or doing a similar bouquet with a very light background. I find going to sleep with my mind already in painting mode is a great kick start for the process. It also alleviates the question of “is this a painting day or not?” which can stop me in my tracks. Besides, painting is the best thing to be thinking about! (Besides my grandkids!) I try and keep my days free for painting fitting in chores and exercise around the painting process. I work at home so I can easily manage taking painting breaks to do chores. I keep the chores at a minimum so that I keep my painting as a priority. More time consuming chores get done at the end if the day or a day when I need to take a break or feel that it’s just not a painting day.

From: Barbara Timberman — May 07, 2013

Daily studio rituals,which I thoroughly enjoy. I believe creative blocks are optional.

From: Barbara — May 07, 2013

Many years ago I went to a lecture on the ‘Zen of Painting’. The lecturer said the artist should use the time spent setting up his palette and organizing his work, as a Zen exercise to help him get ‘ into the zone’. Ever since then, I have tried to use this advice as it seems a very effective way to start the day in the studio. I am a very disorganized person, I have never succeeded in making it a part of my daily routine. Nevertheless, I haven’t given up hope yet!

From: Marlien van Heerden — May 07, 2013

Sales and orders determine my studio rituals. If there is no pressing demand for my work, there is so much household ‘stuff’ that interfere with any planned rituals. I would have loved to have Freud’s wife somewhere living in my house! Having a husband and children is such a blessing, but is very time consuming. Therefore, when there is a due date for paintings, I never know where the time came from to finish them, but somehow it gets done.

From: Norman Ridenour — May 07, 2013

I am not a routine person. I fight to get studio time. There is teaching, constantly changing student times and places. There is weather, a lovely afternoon is going to see me on the bike not in the studio, or a call, Norman they are cutting a cherry tree around the corner. But this has been most of my life. On the other hand I can walk into the studio, change clothes and get to work immediately. Usually on the way there, 30 mins, I make a list of what must get done, what should get done and what I would like to get done, then what would be nice to experiment with. Lest you think this is a recipe for farting around I will say that I am very productive.

From: Jacquie Green — May 07, 2013

A big part of my studio ritual is getting there. I take the streetcar and it is the cheapest theater around. Almost every day I see something; an outfit, a look, an exchange between strangers, that makes me glad I’m not sealed in my car. I hear bits of conversations, music leaking from headphones; I get glimpses of books, catch headlines in papers, see the latest fashion trends, get hot, get cold, take my dog. It connects me to my city and gets my mind ready for working.

From: Greg Gustafson — May 07, 2013

Incredible resource! Thank you for your time and generous spirit in making this site available.

From: Didi Foster — May 07, 2013

I’ve finally managed to work part time so I can spend more time in the studio. I go do some exercise, sometimes I procrastinate playing cards on the computer until I am disgusted with myself and get myself down to the studio. Even then, it takes me a while to get started. Once I start however, the time flies by. If I get excited about the painting, then I find myself putting off other things, like cleaning the house, so I can paint.

From: Allan Betzler — May 07, 2013

I get up early and then go back to bed.

From: Sally Dean — May 08, 2013
From: Marvin Humphrey — May 08, 2013

I need to add a few more daily cups to catch up to Balzac. I admire those who are disciplined enough to stick to a routine. I usually take care of a few chores before settling into the studio, to “earn” my time there. Working 2-4 days per week at a non-art job increases my appreciation for the time I do get to spend in the studio.

From: steve kuzma — May 09, 2013
From: Elizabeth Seltzer — May 10, 2013

Wow!! huge difference! I had ants eat the pigment out of some pieces I had on the wall in Jamaica.

From: Mariane — May 10, 2013
From: Suzanne McLean — May 10, 2013

Just thought I’d put in my two cents for daily studio rituals: Every morning, after drinking my coffee and checking my emails, sales etc… I paint something. It can be anything, a beginning, a continuation, some final touches. I find starting my day this way before I eat breakfast, while I’m still a little dreamy, sets me up to have a lovely productive and creative day. If I wait until after breakfast to start something, my rational mind can become too active and I sometimes start to procrastinate. It doesn’t always lead to an unproductive or less creative day, but it makes at least starting my painting day a little more difficult.

From: Kathryn — May 11, 2013
From: Rick Rotante — May 12, 2013
From: Jackie Knott — May 13, 2013

I don’t do mornings well until 4-6 cups of coffee rev up sharper thinking. Daily ritual is more about “clearing the schedule out” so work is not interrupted. Check email, news, etc., then have that last cup or two sitting across the room from the previous day’s work. Looking at the canvas in different light and backed up from the painting helps tremendously. I don’t like to paint before noon because of the light in my studio … I eat a good breakfast so that is not another reason for interruption. After all that, then I paint. I can put in many long hours of quiet work.

From: Rachel — May 13, 2013

I have a ritual that I love, but can’t really call it a ritual because I rarely am able to follow it. I love to roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen, then go into my studio, turn on music or news, and work. I will work till I am hungry, go get a quick bite of something, and work some more. I’ll do this till I can’t do it anymore. I may or may not have washed up or gotten out of pajamas. I’m sure that turns some noses, but I love having no “have to’s” on my creative days.

From: Rose Fidele — May 13, 2013

My rule of thumb is: No empty easel! That is, when I’ve put away something as complete, I don’t let the sun set on an empty easel. Another canvas or panel goes up and I make some mark(s) on it. That’s my single ritual and it keeps me working. It stops my procrastination.

From: Theresa Eisenbarth — May 14, 2013
From: Mary Holton — May 15, 2013
From: valerie norberry vanorden — May 16, 2013

I will be transcribing from home pretty soon, here. So that will help to wake me up. My mornings often start at 3:30 a.m. (don’t feel sorry for me, I like this) my dogs waking me up, it’s time to go out, momma. Then I watch the ABC news and get tuned into the world. Then I get on the computer about 5:30. When Paul, my hubby awakes, I get him breakfast, many days if not most. This is my morning ritual. I do read my bible and pray, usually about 9:00 or so. Around 10:00 I tune into the “Wendy Williams Show” and laugh. I don’t always watch the news at the regular hours on TV because I have internet and I enjoy watching the early wee morning hours news. That is one of my rituals.

     Featured Workshop: Valerie Kent
051013_robert-genn Valerie Kent workshops Art Tour Tuscany, Italy   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

La Musica de la Noche

oil painting, 20 x 24 inches by Tom Dickson, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Dana Mallany of Toronto, ON, Canada, who wrote, “Interesting book, The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud. ‘Artist manqué having sidelined her dream of creating meticulous shoe-box dioramas of living spaces of her personal heroines, Dickinson, Woolf. A very positive review in the NY Times Book review: ‘In this ingenious, disquieting novel, she has assembled an intricate puzzle of self-belief and self-doubt, showing the peril of seeking your own image in someone else’s distorted mirror.’ ” And also Lee Mothes of Kaukauna, WI, USA who wrote, “Every morning I have to read some pages of a novel (unrelated to art) with a cup of coffee at hand and my cat Duncan on my lap for about 20 minutes before I start a day of painting.”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

Subscribe and receive the Twice-Weekly letter on art. You’ll be joining a worldwide community of artists.
Subscription is free.