It's the Little Things: Efficiency

I want to focus on what I have experienced as one of the game changing attributes of my art practice; efficiency. Efficiency is one of the aspects less experienced artists rarely think about. In fact, the love of covering your hands in colorful paint is a highlight of your day. But after 5 years, you only see the amount of money you are wasting when you accidentally drag your sleeve through your palette of paint.

So here are 3 great tips for artists and painters that might make you a faster and less stressed artist. These tips can help a hobbyist and a 20 year veteran because the practice of efficiency allows them to do what they love longer.

1. The first tip is to keep your studio set-up ready and accessible. The less time between having an idea and setting up your easel and paints, the more success you will have. For many novice creators, they put off creating because their "art table" is full of papers, homework, souvenirs, etc. They think it will take too long to clean the table before they have to start setting up their brushes, mediums, and sketchpad. They think, "Is this even worth it?" This mental barrier can be overcome with ease. Maybe designate a third of your work space ONLY for your art making. That way, when you are ready to sit down and make some art, you know exactly where to show up to find everything waiting patiently for you. Maybe switch mediums. When you have time and space, use paint. When you only have an hour on a bus, use your trusty sketchbook and pencils. The next one is for any art lover. Whether professional or not, this will be a financial blessing over time.

2. Save leftover materials! Collect pastel and charcoal bits that can be used for a background or experimental artwork. Save your paints in a air tight container. Even a plastic plate in a zip lock bag will give a beginner mounds of knowledge. Imagine how this helps: First, that massive blob of paint you squirted out can be used 3 weeks from now. You don't always have to throw your paint away after 30 minutes of painting. Second, you can use, or at least compare new color mixes to old mixes. Make sure you are washing your brushes as you use them! I prefer a brush sitting in water for too long than never getting cleaned. If you maintain your brushes properly you can save hundreds of dollars a year. Especially if you use acrylic paints.

3. Systems. We use systems and strategies everywhere. To be able to break something down in a way that the steps are easily understood and replicated scales your efforts. For anyone just having a long day and everything is falling apart, falling back onto a system can at least stop the damage before it gets any worse. Just like learning a skill or craft, you have to learn fundamentals to fall back on when your creativity and flair are exhausted.

I hope these tips help you to rethink your current practices and challenge yourself to let go of what doesn't work for what raises your efficiency and enjoyment.