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Every now and then, I am turning over the reins to my creative friends and letting them show and tell about their work-in-progress.  I’ve also asked them to address the issue of how they make time in their busy schedules for their own work.  My guest today is artist, teacher, and arts counselor, Barry Beach.

Barry, what are you thinking about in your current work?

My current artwork is more intuitive, produced quicker, focused on exploring surface and form. My general area of exploration is how the human-made and natural environments intersect, how they affect us physically and psychologically.

And how do you make time for your work (and all the other things you fit into your schedule)?

How do I make time for my work? Honestly, it’s the biggest challenge I face. And often I don’t make time for it. It was nearly 4 months since I was producing sculpture before this latest work. It tends to go all or nothing – but I don’t necessarily see that as a problem, just part of my process. During the times I’m too busy or uninspired to build, I keep sketching in my sketchbook, recording ideas and thoughts to follow later when I have the time and/or inspiration.

But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that during the times you’re not feeling like producing work, you can’t beat yourself up. You just have to keep yourself involved and active on other pursuits. I find reading things I traditionally enjoy helps me get back into my creative groove. Inspiration will return – you just have to have faith and be ready to act upon it when it does!

Thanks Barry!  Where can we see more of your work?

My website is www.barrybeach.com

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Every now and then, I am turning over the reins to my creative friends and letting them show and tell about their work-in-progress.  I also asked them to address the issue of how they make time in their busy schedules for their own work.  This week’s guest is photographer and entrepreneur Tanya Boggs.

Tanya, what are you thinking about in your current work, Daily Dose?

Some of the themes you will see repeated in all of my personal work have been about collecting, archiving, mortality and memory, and an exploration of personal history.  And those ideas are even more evident in this current body of work Daily Dose.

This is an ongoing self-portrait of me and my daughter and is a continual work in progress.  Everyday, at approximately the same time, I place us as the subject of a photograph.  Day in and day out, each image, taken at the same distance from the camera, with the same lighting, and the same background, begins to compound and grow.  Days become weeks.  Weeks become months.  And soon months will become years.

By choosing to keep some of the elements in the image stable and by placing these seemingly arbitrary restrictions on the project, the nuances begin to come to the forefront.  This gives the viewer the opportunity to notice small details like when I have a headache, or when my daughter is exhausted or not feeling well.  You can begin to see some of the subtleties of the relationship and the individuals.

I began the work in March of 2009, so it’s been just over a year.  I plan to continue this project until my daughter grows up and moves out.  Most if the time in art, I think tightly editing can be crucial. This is one of the few projects where I think more is more.  The accumulation over time will really begin to shift and change this project.  I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Tanya, how do you make time for your own creative work (and all the other things you fit into your schedule)?

Given the nature of this current body of fine art work, making time for it is built into the project.  And it doesn’t take too much time everyday so it has been easy to commit to doing.  It’s probably a little easier as a photographer since I’m not making oil paintings or something more time consuming.  But it does require that I commit to the project daily.  There are some larger tasks and overall upkeep which I do in chunks on a weekly or bi-weekly basis: Color balancing, adding titles, updating the images on the website, applying for shows.  It’s been pretty easy to find small blocks of time to stay on top of the work because I’m really excited about the project.  I try to find 30 minutes or an hour here and there.  Which can easily turn into a larger amount of time as I get lost in the project.  Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part.

The other thing I have done to make time for my creative work, is that I have made my art into my craft and my livelihood as well.  I was frustrated that I never had enough time in my studio.  And one day a light bulb went off.  I want to do what I love and have someone pay me for it.  Given my medium of photography, it wasn’t that far of a leap.  Just a leap of faith really.  Now making time for my personal work just blends into my life a little more seamlessly.  I work with images all the time, so it’s easy to flip right into my personal work for 30 minutes at lunch or for an hour on Saturdays.  I hardly notice the difference between the two anymore.  I’m no longer frustrated by my lack of studio time and both my personal and my professional work organically blend together in my daily workflow.

My advice to others who might struggle to make time for their creative work is to first remove as many barriers as possible between you and getting it done.  If your commute to your studio stops you from making work… remove the commute.  Second, figure out how much time you realistically have and then schedule it for you.  Make a date with yourself and don’t break it.  And lastly I’d say, commit, commit, commit!  If it is really a priority for you, then you have to devote the time and energy.

Thanks Tanya!  Where can we see more of your work?

My Solo Exhibition for Re: incarnation at the School of the Arts at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA was cancelled for the 2009/2010 exhibition season due to budget cuts.

Currently on the fine art website for my personal work, the Daily Dose images begin in March of 2009 and move to the present, but I am going to switch that shortly so that the most recent images are the first one’s you see on the site.  I want to update the site weekly so the content is always current and easy to get to.

http://www.TanyaBoggs.com

http://www.TanyaBoggsPhotography.com

http://www.TanyaBoggsPhotography.com/blog

Become a fan: http://www.facebook.com/TanyaBoggsPhotography

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TanyaBoggsPhoto

Awesome arts administrator Barbara Garber, the City Studio Assistant Director at the San Francisco Art Institute, shared her “Resources for Teaching Artists” with me recently and it’s information worth passing along as I know many artists teach or will think about teaching at some point in their creative careers.

I’ve linked directly to some of the sites noted in her guide.

On Career Development:

College Art Association

The National Art Education Association

The Artist Help Network

Arts Resource Network

Artist’s Professional Toolbox

For Job Listings:

Chronicle for Higher Education

Job Bank

National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture

Related Organizations:

Teaching Artist Source

The Association of Teaching Artists

State/Regional Arts Agencies:

Alameda County Office of Education

San Francisco Arts Commission

California Arts Council

California Alliance for Arts Education

Check these out if you are a fan of arts in education as they lead to a wealth of information.  Do you have a resource to add to this list?


Nancy's paintings in her Napa Valley studio

Every now and then, I am turning over the reins to my creative friends and letting them show and tell about their work-in-progress.  I also asked them to address the issue of how they make time in their busy schedules for their own work.  Today’s guest is painter and teacher Nancy Willis.

Nancy, what are you thinking about in your current work?

I am excited about this work because…

I have a new studio space in a redwood barn on a vineyard in Napa. To me, it looks and feels like France which I love. But the amount of working space that I lost in downsizing from my old studio is still challenging me. I can stand back to see a painting that I am working on, but do not have much space to move laterally. It is difficult to see the work in relation to other work.

I have been working on the Chandelier image for about three years, mostly in printmaking and painting on paper.  Those decisions were equal parts economic downturn and current space restraints. The smaller scale work really helped me know the form, which I realized when I recently started back in on larger format paintings.

I am striving to move away from a direct view of a chandelier and eclipse or mask it. A major theme in my work is the fragmentary aspect of time and experience, so I think this move supports that.

The larger green painting has been in progress for over a year. The source image is a chandelier in daylight in southern California. I wanted to encapsulate and simultaneously shatter the chandelier form while representing the incongruities of the form with daylight and ocean/nature. My process involves many layers of painting and sanding to find the way color and light reflect, refract and shift. The green keeps changing. This latest version may not stay as bright, or deep but for now, it pulled the form into focus. I will give it a few days and see what it tells me.

And how do you make time for your own creative work (and all the other things you fit into your schedule)?

I teach at the Napa Valley College and a local art center. It is not enough to support me, and while I have some modest gallery representation, I continue to supplement my work with catering shifts. I also produce workshops including a painting tour to France. I am responsible for everything in regard to itinerary, logistics, instruction etc. Right now, that is commanding most of my attention. Since my last solo exhibition in 2007, much of my studio time is plugged in around my “other” work. It is frustrating and deflating at times.  The days of 6 to 8 hour painting sessions are a distant memory. I am aware and can be proficient in a 2 to 4 hour period. On a good day, I feel fortunate to keep it all going, but often I feel like my “real” work gets interrupted, and the glass is half full.

I find the more I paint the easier it is to find the time from an already taxed schedule. In that, I mean there is the spark that comes from a day painting in the studio.  The process seduces all of me away from spreadsheets, syllabi, and documentation. It is a jolt, validation, and curiosity and reminds me of what is really important.

Nancy has a solo show of her work scheduled for 2012 at Robert Mondavi Wines. You can see more of her work at I. Wolk Gallery in St. Helena, the gallery at Sundance, and online at:

www.nancywillis.com

www.pathofanartist.com

My son assembled this robot from a box of parts he's been collecting.

Sometimes being creative means collaborating with your children. It’s important to let them take the creative lead and to just help out with the parts involving the hot glue gun.

My son and I usually start with a question: what should we make today? Sometimes we start with the materials and try to figure out what they want to be. We had an old camera that wanted to be the robot pictured here. My son has a box of art parts and he found the reflectors which became the robot’s laser eyes. The iPhone box with it’s icons that look like buttons and controls became the body and we added some wire for arms and some rolled corrugated cardboard for the feet (not shown in the picture).

Now he picks up interesting robot parts as he comes across bolts, broken electronic devices, and other odds and ends as we walk around town.

How do you like to play creatively with children? Do you make things? pictures? songs or poems? dances? games? How do you start the process?

It's always sunny and green outside the catalog windows.

A blog about making time to be creative definitely needs to include some creative work as well as posts about time-saving strategies, home office productivity, and work/life balance. I plan to continue to post helpful tips for the office on Tuesdays. Fridays will be for “Time to Create” to include photos of work in progress, poetic fragments, and other thoughts around the creative process. It’s a little bit left-brained/right-brained but that is how my mind works!

I remember papering the walls of my cardboard box barbie-dollhouse with pictures from catalogs so that they could live in style and I could pretend that they had all that they could wish for.  I never stopped collecting images or wishing and my current project (wishbooks) considers the allure of catalog settings.  I’d like to figure out what it is we are really hoping for when we are shopping and outfitting our homes with what we want and need.

This wishbook features romantic outside views for those of us who live and work in urban environments often lacking in such beautiful natural ambiance.  I write this as I listen to the street in front of my house being torn up today and can look out and see fences, parking lots, and neighboring buildings.

What do you want to see when you look outside?

This desk in the corner of our living room is the "office" of Beam Virtual Assistance.

This desk in the corner of our living room is the "home office" of Beam Online Business Services.

Loved the peek at the workspaces of the famous over on Lifehacker (see at http://lifehacker.com/5367129/nine-workspaces-where-famous-folks-get-stuff-done ) last week.  And since I just got my own space “just right” after 8 years of working from a home office, I could not resist posting a picture of my own workspace, as humble as it is.

No matter how busy I get, I try to keep my desktop as clutter-free as possible.  Clutter can be distracting and I need the empty space while working on projects.  Still, I prefer to think of the open space as an invitation to creativity.  Just as I need some free space on my calendar in order to foster my creative projects, I need some free space on my desktop to welcome new ideas.  It’s a visual metaphor and reminder of potential and possibility.  It also inspires me to work towards the ideal of a paperless office.  I either bookmark, scan, or PDF what would otherwise become paper that I would have to find a place to store.  There’s plenty of space on my computer for my virtual files but not so much in the file cabinet.  I use the cabinet to store what clients send me and other projects in process.

As my office is a part of my living room, I try to keep it neat to match the rest of the room.  When my work is put away, not only is it safe from the family life that takes place in the same space, but it’s also less likely to capture my attention when I am not working.  Boundaries are tough in any home office situation and visual reinforcement helps me stick to my work limits.  Really it’s sticking to those boundaries that keeps the ideas and creative projects coming.  Left to it’s own devices, work and/or family could easily and definitely take over my life and my space.  Rather than give in or give up, I choose to allow the time and space in my life for thinking.  And my (almost) empty desktop is there to remind me of this priority.  While work is in progress, it really looks a lot more like the photograph of Tina Fey’s office with orderly post-its (they still work) and a baby at the keyboard (only my baby is six now and into lego.com in a big way).

This entry would not be complete without a nod to my favorite blog Unclutterer at http://www.unclutterer.com where every week they post a photograph of a readers’ workspace.  I love to see the variety and creativity of how people set-up their spaces to work for them.