My new normal

After the first full month of my new life as a "semi-retired" full-time artist, a daily pattern has developed.  Oh, by the way, I keep putting quotations around "semi-retired" because my version of it is probably not what you think.

I have always been an early morning person, going back as far as the mid-1980s when I would be the second person at school each morning.  The only person there in front of me was the janitor.  Thanks to the 18 Day Painting Challenge, my internal clock is reset to waking up just before 6 am.  By 6:15 I'm usually here, on my blog site writing something.  At 7:30 I'll be out in the studio jumping back into the commission that I was working on last night.

Painting is not the only activity that happens out there.  It is surprising how much of my time is spent doing other things.  I have a new practice of creating custom boxes for every original work.  I recycle large boxes that come in with both canvases and canvas prints and cut them down to create boxes that protect the paintings.  The amount of unusable scraps that I create in this process is crazy.  My recycling container is often overflowing.  Dealing will all of these adds up to more than several hours in a given week.

As my output has increased dramatically, so too has my need to maintain my supplies.  I'm constantly monitoring my canvas and paint inventory, particularly.  I'm also watching our inventory of canvas prints and which pieces are popular and need replenishing.  We don't carry a lot of prints, largely because of space constraints, but we make sure to have a few.  Dealing with all these things takes time.

For the record, I enjoy the tasks that don't involve painting, as they give me a break and allow me to move my body.  Building boxes, as an example, involves a small measure of physical exertion.  Painting can be a rather static activity; any excuse to move about is a good one.

I also enjoy when it snows because I get to move my body outdoors.  Keeping the walk cleared has always been an activity I enjoy.  This lifestyle gives me the time and flexibility to shovel when it needs to be done, as opposed to whenever I could fit it in before.

People drop into Birdsong Studio almost every day.  Clients have become familiar with the route:  park in the front of the house, walk around to the backyard, and heave open the massive door to Birdsong Studio.  That monster door gets more difficult to open in the winter season; expansion and contraction play havoc with it.  Jim (Dorie) had built it super wide to accommodate his motorcycle collection.

I love the visits and the spontaneous moments that happen when clients drop in.  There have been hundreds and hundreds over the last 3.5 years.  When I think of it, and if they are comfortable doing so, I get them to stand in what I call "the sweet spot" and get their picture taken with their treasure.  It has become a time honoured tradition in Birdsong Studio.

My new normal has me out in the studio until 11 am on most days.  After lunch and a short nap, I'm back out there until 4 pm.  After dinner preparations and family time, I spend an additional 90 minutes at the easel, typically locking the studio at 8 pm.  How many hours do I actually spend painting in a given day?  I have never calculated it, but I would guess 6 to 7 hours on average.

I wasn't 100-percent sure how I would respond to painting full-time and all the associated activities it demands.  I think it's safe to say that I love my new normal; I'm grateful to have the opportunity to do this every day.


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