What We Learned In Taos About Protecting Creative Time

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    This post is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner and founder of BoldBrush, known for FASO Artist Websites, the leading provider of professional artist websites, the $38,000+ BoldBrush Painting Competition and the free daily art marketing newsletter, FineArtViews. As a self-proclaimed "art fanatic", Clint delights that BoldBrush's downtown San Antonio, Texas office is full of original art, as is his home office which he shares with his two feline assistants Kiara and Lilly. You can connect with Clint on TwitterFacebook or his personal blog at clintavo.com

     

     

     

     

     

    To build a successful art business you must do several things, among them:

     

    1.  Master your craft (this is a never-ending process)

    2.  Produce enough appealing, masterful works to have inventory to sell 

    3.  Market yourself and your art

     

    While this space is often dedicated to marketing, today I want to focus on items 1 and 2, mastery and production.  This is an expanded an updated version of a piece I wrote a few years ago.

     

    Both mastery and production require long stretches of uninterrupted creative time in your studio, so you must set limits to protect your creative time. 

     

    It's not unlike what we software engineers need to produce great software.  To improve our coding ability, or create difficult new functionality in software (such as FASO Artist Websites), we need long stretches of uninterrupted time at the computer.  Indeed, as FASO has grown, the demands on me, as the CEO, grow exponentially as we add new team members.  And I spend many days in meetings, answering questions and clarifying strategy and tactics.  But I still do some of the coding because it's in my blood and because it's the best way for me to create new, useful marketing tools for our customers.  In order to guarantee myself those needed long stretches of uninterrupted time, I still work from home about two days a week, during which, I'm basically "unavailable."

     

    You must protect your creative time the same way.  If you don't, you will struggle to master your craft and produce enough sale-able artworks. Nearly all of the great artists I know treat their studio time like a 9-5 job, and those regular hours, rain or shine, inspired or not, are set aside and sacred for painting and painting only.

     

    I'll illustrate with a story:  A  few years ago, my wife and I vacationed in Taos and spent a couple of days out at Wanda and Kevin Macpherson's place. They live in a beautiful cabin-inspired home halfway between Taos and Angel Fire.  The views are stunning out of every window.  It's a perfect vacation spot.  The only downside is that it's so far out that the pizza guy refuses to deliver, although Kevin often tried to convince him to meet us halfway (It never worked).


    The first morning, during breakfast, Kevin politely, but firmly told us that while he realized that we were on vacation....that he wasn't. He explained that he would be working in his studio until 5:00 pm and asked us please, not to interrupt him unless it was an emergency.  His studio is a separate building within walking distance of the main house.

    Since I was in the gallery business at the time, I completely understood, especially since I knew he was working on new pieces for an upcoming show at my gallery.  Kevin is the consummate professional and knows what he needs to do, so we wished him well and told him we would see him at dinner.

    My wife and I spent the morning biking through the mountains around his house.  About 10:30 am, we arrived back at the house and realized we had locked ourselves out without a key. Wanda had gone into town. What should we do?

    We stood outside Kevin's studio door for more than 30 minutes debating on whether or not being locked out constituted as an "emergency"......

     

    It would be easy to let things slide.  After all, we were only in Taos for two days.  A less diligent artist might have just thought "I can catch up on my painting after they leave."  But, while I feel sure Kevin would have loved to have taken off a few hours and "played" with us, he protected his creative time because he knows, as a consummate professional that creative time is sacred.  And if you want to produce enough masterful, sale-able art to be successful, you must be just as diligent and protective of your creative time as Kevin is of his.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Clint Watson

    BoldBrush/FASO Founder, Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

     

    PS - We lucked out.  As we stood there debating if the situation was an "emergency", Kevin opened the studio door.  He was heading over to the house anyway.....whew!

     

     

     

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