Tips on managing your time and studio practice by Helene Farrar

Tips on managing your time and studio practice by Helene Farrar

A few years ago I was met with a number of very challenging personal and professional circumstances that continuously stole my focus and began to chip away at my studio time. While in the thick of it, I wasn’t simply able to step away from the circumstances but I was able to take notes on how I would “take back” my time, concentration, and energy. 

As we look into the New Year with thoughts about time management and studio practices, I thought I’d share five steps or “rules” I follow that might inspire you as you map out your work time.

  1. Never, never start your day with email.

Email will suck the day away like the endless dust balls under the couch.  Grants to write, class proposals to send, communications about anything, invoices, supply orders, bookkeeping, the list goes on. Most of it can wait  – – until afternoon or evening. There is absolutely nothing that is a REAL emergency. For sure, deadlines do linger but you already knew this and should have backed up the time to do it.  Also, do not do email on your phone if you can help it. Protect your creative time by being intentional with your time for administrative work. For example, looking at your week ahead  –  set Tuesday as your admin day. 

2. Exercise first

I usually drink coffee and water in tandem. Coffee for sure, you decide the order. But on a more serious note, if you are to continue to be the amazing artist you are, you have to take care of your body. I am not going to bore you with my own health problems and concerns but believe me you can at any age, take control of your body and help it to help you. You’ve already heard – exercise is really good for you and it will make you better ABLED in the studio! Drop a tool or a tube of paint behind a table or in a difficult reach spot? No problem. Need to work on an over sized piece with an extended, repetitive motion. No problem. Exercise provides more than increasing energy, strength and flexibility. It is a means to release stress, meditate and it’s an act of self love. This is what this week looked like for me, I attended one yoga class, cross country skied one morning, lifted weights three days (oops I didn’t make the third but I did shovel an entire driveway of snow), and walked on another day.

  1. BE social  

Being social does not mean being on social media. Go to art receptions, attend museum shows, and take a friend. It’s ideal to try to get out of the studio once a week but at least once a month for a big “social event”. Check out a local First Friday. Who is having a show, or what is on for live music? Do some research and set an intention to attend a local or regional arts event.  These activities really feed me creatively, also, you need to support fellow creatives  – –  why would they come to your show when you couldn’t make time see theirs? Being social also includes going out for coffee or lunch with an artist friend.  Get out of the studio with intention. 

4. Your art time is sacred, it should not be interrupted.

Consolidate your weekly household, professional, personal chores into one afternoon, or whenever your creative energy is less. If your art energy is best in the mornings, do not DO NOT do chores in the morning. One of the things I do is keep a running list starting on Sunday evenings of errands, phone calls and “others”. I try to get them all done on a Friday afternoon or let them all roll into the next week. That’s also why I haven’t been to the dump in three weeks and there’s a big pile of cardboard waiting for me. 

  1. Always make time in your schedule to experiment or to dig deeper into a creative idea that is new or in its infancy.  

I’ve been a professional artist for twenty years and working independently for close to thirteen years. In this time I have really hustled to create the livelihood that eighty percent of my living comes from selling my paintings. 

The trap is that I haven’t given myself time to explore ideas that are outside my “usual”. While I have kept these ideas safe in a sketchbook, in recent years they have rarely left there. This year one of my goals is to set aside at least one-half day in my studio per week to these other explorations. 

We can’t guarantee that every day or week is going to be perfect, but with a solid framework, you can get back on track with ease. Thanks for listening. I hope this was helpful. 

Farrar comes from a family of self-taught artists and designers. She was raised in Farmington, Maine, and is influenced by the natural beauty of her home state, as well as her parents’ New York City backgrounds and her travels around the world.  She has art degrees from the University of Maine and Goddard College in Vermont, and she is the president of New England Wax.  She lives in Manchester, Maine, with her husband, her almost eighteen-year-old daughter, her German exchange student Lina, and Mr. Biscuit a pesky new kitten.  She can be found on most days painting in her farmhouse studio or teaching adults and children across the state.