Sunday, October 23, 2011

Keeping it in Balance


In the time honored tradition of Opposites Attract, HH and I have spent quite a lot of time over the years coming to terms with our differences.

This has been especially interesting since my foray into art as a full time endeavor. 

In HH’s profession time, and keeping track of it, is very important. His day is divided between appointments, paperwork, meetings and other duties. Managing the clock efficiently allows for more appointments, more paperwork, more meetings and more duties. Checking these items off the list is proof of a successful day.


Time, to this artist, is a very different animal. It neither starts, nor ends; it just is. More often than not, I don’t actually finish a task. I make headway, I made advances, I may even make progress, but my work is not conducive to being confined to a list.

HH is an impressive list maker. I’m learning.  Where he starts the day with a dozen or so entries on his to-do list, mine often starts with this entry: “make list for day”. 

HH feels a sense of control when he ends his day with his long list check-marked and scratched out. Certain items of mine can be checked off a list, certainly. Prepare panels. Check.  Buy frame. Check.  Put painting in frame. Check.  Add hanging wire. Check. 

My daily goals don’t always translate into a useable list.  For instance, Monday’s list: “Paint”. Tuesday’s list:  “Keep painting”. Wednesday: “Paint again”.  In the interest of saving trees, I can keep that one in my head.

The work of laying paint onto a canvas doesn’t translate into timeframes or check marks. I have finished paintings, signed them, and framed them. Check it off the list.  A short time later I see something that could be tweaked.  Uncheck.   Take out of frame. Is that a re-check, or an un-check?  Fix the painting. Recheck.  Re-frame, re-re-check. Or is that un-check?

I’ve learned to set a timer to help me keep track of my time.  Ding! Time for lunch.  Ding!  Go to the dentist.  Ding!  Write your blog. (What?  It’s Sunday already?)


Of course, my day starts off with a plan, just like his.  I plan to work on a painting.  From there things follow a different path - if there is a path at all. Mostly the plan goes like this: I will work on the painting on my easel.  I will work on it until I am satisfied, or so miserable I quit.  Or, I will take advantage of unexpected beautiful sunny weather and paint outside. Or take advantage of unexpected cloudy weather and photograph artwork.  Or, if it’s raining and the painting on my easel is not going well, I will frame, or inventory…or…

He has a fairly tight rein on his calendar; I have a first class pilot’s license in flying by the seat of my pants. 

He sets his calendar, I set a timer.

He puts on aftershave, I wipe off paint.

He puts on a tie, I tie on an apron.

He takes a break from paperwork to stare into space. I take a break from staring into space to catch up on paperwork.

He gets a regular paycheck. I get irregular paychecks.  I think. It’s been awhile.

Somehow, despite our differences, we belong to the same mutual admiration society.

I admire his ability to determine what needs to be done.  He appreciates my ability to be flexible.

I admire his ability to focus, he is learning to let go of details. 

I’m so very glad he can do math.  So is he. He leaves the final decision on clothes matching to me.

I have learned that being an artist isn’t just about color and paint.  HH has been very gracious in helping me understand and use calendars and lists to keep my schedule straight and my studio time productive.

He has learned that being successful isn’t just about checking off the task list.  He now takes time to stop and watch trees turn color and butterflies hatch.  (Just between you and me, I think he’s got that on a list somewhere.)

He’s less schedule oriented, I’m less open-ended.  He’s willing to take the road less travelled, and I’ve learned to mind the clock.

One of these days he’ll get me to use a Franklin Planner, and maybe I’ll get him to leave his at home.

We'll both add that to our lists.

6 comments:

Vickie said...

Someone else who uses a timer! That tickled me!

Patty said...

I'd say great minds think alike! Thanks for chiming in-

Karine said...

Well-written post. I like making lists, too, but I get confused at the same part you do. Finish painting, check. Photograph and put in inventory, check. Decide painting isn't quite done yet. Finish painting AGAIN. (double check?) Photograph painting AGAIN. ??? I hear ya, sista! Keep on, keeping on!

Patty said...

A fellow traveler! Hugs to you sweetie!

Hannah said...

Patricia, I could never have told that you weren't a religious list maker--the progress you make on the paintings that's reflected in your blog; the fact that you blog!--I think your method rocks! I land somewhere between you and your HH and it frustrates me no end that I check something off (finish painting--check, redo area, check again, photograph once, photograph twice, (its beginning to sound like that old Beatles song "move over once, move over twice, come on baby...don't be like ice"---
I have to think this is "the artist's way.":)

Patty said...

There's a perfect spot in my brain, tucked between left brain and right brain, where lists and checking off meet and dovetail beautifully. Annoyingly, its tucked under a pile of laundry and other grey matter, unreachable most days...