I am sure everyone has noticed how seductively deceiving the summer can be, making us believe the time can be stretched endlessly, without a worry on the horizon. The glorious lull of summer!
Well, in the past couple weeks I am trying to wake up and smell the studio, because those show pieces for my fabulous October show are not going to paint themselves by the power of my inspiration alone. The studio is busy and there are many things already checked off from the to-do list.
And here is the list, with some of my thoughts about each item, in case someone would like to know what preparations need to be done for a solo show of (for me) major proportions.
Theme and Title – what do I want to paint this year the most? What body of work is in dearest need of getting on the canvas? Is that something that would engage other art lovers?
Quantity and Presentation - Ask the gallery how many paintings and what dimensions they can accommodate. Also agree about the framing and hanging strategy. Framed paintings look great, but frames are such a pain in the neck. Luckily, for a modern presentation, going unframed can work very well.
Timing - Decide when the show will take place. Now that I know how many paintings I need and by what date, calculate the rate at which the paintings need to be completed. This step may include a major shock and a rude awakening from the summer lull. Its helpful to estimate a ballpark of painting hours needed on weekly bases and stick to the plan. The wiggle space will be determined by the urgency of delivery – as any master procrastinator worth his chops knows.
Content - The fun part – plan the paintings. This doesn’t need to be very precise at this point. For example, just decide what scenes you want on your large pieces, small ones, verticals, any specific color and composition schemes etc. This is my favorite thing to do – make the entire body of work in my head. Sometimes I make little sketches, but I haven’t been consistent with that. I think that I like to maintain a sense of play and unleashed creativity at this stage of the process.
Supplies and Work-space - Buy the canvases; replenish paint, mediums and brushes. Anything else in the studio that bugs me should be either fixed of put away (e.g. ask husband to remove his junk from the studio).
Quality Control - Prepare a nice staging area for half-finished pieces. It’s great to see the stash growing in numbers, and look for inconsistencies and things that require fixing up.
Advertising - Take care of any early advertising of the show. Some magazines require a long lead time, so this has to be done ASAP. Make a list of all the places and methods for advertising and plan the timing for each of them, then send them out every once in a while.
It’s also good to get any hanging hardware and packaging stuff that will be needed later, but this can wait for now.
This is all I have to do this time since the gallery eliminates need for many activities I would do if I was organizing the show entirely by myself or in collaboration with other artists, which I have done as well in the past - it can be lot of fun if planned properly.
Most importantly and urgently, it’s the painting time now!
I enjoy having a deadline, but at the same time there is a pressure to deliver, which can be taunting. The key for me is to remember that art complements life and that there must be a harmony between the creative time and those deliciously mundane things that make up our ordinary days. Achieving balance is challenging, but very much worth pursuing - just ask any family member.
Keep enjoying the summer lull until you can!