Although I normally discuss various articles in my weekly newsletter, I thought I’d switch things up and talk about one article here I stumbled across on Twitter. It’s called “It’s Okay To Jump From Idea To Idea“, and it is on Alyson B. Stanfield’s Art Biz Blog. I’ve been looking at a lot of business related articles recently, particularly ones related to artists for a couple of reasons. Obviously my blog is for artists and other creative people (whether you’re “artistic” or “crafty” or not), but I find the business articles approach ideas from a different angle which I find interesting. I’m very logical, and I’m also very artistic. I know that many people are one or the other, but I find a lot of joy in using my analytical skills as well as my artistic skills, and if I can combine them then all the better.
This article really spoke to me in a few ways. One was that the TED Talk video in the article (Scott Belsky’s “Making Ideas Happen” talk) described my working style really well at one point. He said there are dreamers, doers, and incrementalists (switch between dream mode and doer mode easily and continuously). I’m very much an incrementalist, but he said even though it sounds like you’ve hit the jackpot with that working style, the problem is that incrementalists create so much that they can’t scale anything. In other words, you’re unfocussed on one project and can’t develop that project too deeply before getting involved in another project. That sums me up to a tee – I can’t seem to focus on one media, or even one project at a time. However, I do always only have one project of each type going on at a time – for example right now I have anatomy drawing lessons I’m doing, working on a giant cross stitch design that’s taken from one of my Michelangelo drawings, working on my blog, trying to study French, doing online business classes, and I’ve registered for courses on how to learn to code (but I haven’t started those yet, not planning on it for a while). So yeah, very scattered but I do always manage to get projects done.
What I found interesting about the article was it was talking about leapfrogging from idea to idea or project to project, and when one idea or project stalls out to go to another one. This allows your brain a little rest from the demands of that project, and it gives it space to come up with a solution or other inspiration that stumped you before you stopped. One excellent example of this working style can be found in my “Sistine Series” that I did in 2002 while living in Banff (shown at the top of this article and in my gallery). I painted all five paintings simultaneously (each is 18″x24″, oil paint on builders paper). When I’d get tired of one (or frustrated), I’d move onto the next one. I worked on them all at the same time to keep the colours cohesive across the series, and to make them all look like they belong together. Working in a “leap frog” way wasn’t something I was consciously doing, but it allowed me to problem solve as I was painting as usually by the time I got back to a “troublesome” part of one painting I was looking at it with fresh eyes and could see what the problem was. It took me 3 months to finish all five paintings, but they look really great and I’m really happy I worked on them the way I did. I can see that working style in pretty much everything I touch these days – I’m so inspired by so many things that I do bounce between many varied projects, but I always come back to each one refreshed and able to solve problems better.
So, I found the article quite useful in helping me see my own working style. What about you, how do you work best? One project at a time? A bunch on the go? Let me know! 🙂