How I Found Time

Just playing on paper on the new easel.
Just playing on paper on the new easel.

Actually the phrase “found time” is ridiculous. As far as I know there are only 24 hours in a day. The biggest difference is how you use your time.

I Get Up Early

My husband and I get up at 5 a.m. No we are not runners or photographers who like the morning light. We are grandparents who want to make certain our grandsons are cared for until school begins at 8:15 a.m. and this particular daughter can get to her job as a health care professional by 7 a.m.

While occasionally it feels a little like a burden, that is rarely the case.  It usually feels like a gift—a gift of time we hadn’t counted on. And while we do this only four days a week, we tend to maintain the schedule most days. I get the luxury of the “extra” time every day, but my husband gets the “benefit” of an hour with his grandson. We wish this were the case for all three of them.

I Do Not Focus on Emails

On the days we linger in bed until 5:30 a.m., we both get to enjoy the quiet of the morning. This  means we can get things done without the interruption of phone calls. My husband writes music and reads, and I try to spend as much of this time as possible in my studio reading, writing, and painting. With no one else up you feel that you are hours ahead of most everyone else. I also know artists that paint at night, usually after 10 p.m. Again, it is quiet and they can focus on the brush strokes, the colors, the composition without a plea for their attention.

Of course, there are days I get to paint a lot more, but this morning time is time I can generally count on. The trick is that to accomplish this, I must not look at emails or facebook, etc. until at least 9 a.m. or at the very least be disciplined enough to limit myself to 10 minutes. It is way too easy even for me to get sucked in to the magic hole of the internet.

I Still Get 8 Hours Sleep

Trust me; I am not suggesting you get less sleep. You will find us in bed by at least 9:30 p.m. almost every night and often before that. In the end, it is a matter of choice. Finding time is about prioritizing and rescheduling. So while our choice is eliminating most television and a bunch of internet, it may not work for others.

I Focus on the Rewards

Even if it is an hour a day, for me it is worth the rearrangement of a few things. The older I get the more I hate hurrying and hassle, so anything that makes life a little calmer is worth trying. And believe me, the time I get provides pleasure, insight, and sanity. Not bad rewards.

“Forget the Bad”

“Wild Ride,” 4″ x 4″, Mixed media on deep wood panel

As an English teacher turned artist, I’ve been excited about the integration of arts in education.

A recent article posted on the Southern California Public Radio website reported how the San Diego Unified School District was demonstrating their success in bringing the arts into regular subjects and sharing that success with teachers across the state. In this district teaching artists join classroom teachers once a week in 22 schools and co-teach lessons that weave art into the standard curriculum. Administrators believe that students will need this type of integrated education in the 21st century to be successful.

The research is there to back them up. Educators now understand that arts integration has many benefits in addition to creative expression. Two were explained by author Amanda Koonlaba in a February 2015 article in Education Week: it helps students learn and retain knowledge and allows them an alternate form to demonstrate understanding. It may also reduce the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students.

But more dramatic was her story about one of her students. Koonlaba said she asked her elementary class what kinds of arts lessons they had enjoyed in their core subjects. One young student explained that he loved visual art because creating helped him “forget the bad,” and he needed that “more than once a week.”

So do I.



Why I Have More Than One Table for Painting

“Midnight Storm,” 24″ x 24″

It continues to be really hot here, but two nights this week we’ve had thunderstorms.

Perhaps this is why I was inspired to paint or overpaint an abstract when my current work involves more concrete images. I am still working on the Storycatcher series, but well…I just needed to do something different.

I work on tables and not easels. Perhaps that’s why I have more than one table for painting.