Friday, April 20, 2012

Post-Convention Stress and the Elephant Analogy

Quiet Time, pastel, 17 x 24
Earlier this week I returned from the Plein Air Convention in Las Vegas. Many people have already posted about what a life-changing event this was, along with some spectacular details. I feel like I'm late to the party posting about it now, since so many wonderful comments have already been made. I came away with pages of valuable information, new friends and some great new art supplies to try out. But I think the most important thing I came home with was renewed inspiration.

Working on one of my plein air pieces during the
convention. (It was COLD that day!) Would love to
find the time to do a larger version of this one
I'm working on here. focus that inspiration onto the long list of projects I have in the works. I'm itching to work up some of my plein air studies I did in Las Vegas and go through my many reference photos.  There's also this limited palette challenge that some of my local artist friends who also attended the convention have started...I'd love to make the time to participate in this. However, just before I left for the trip, I was contacted by a wonderful gallery in mid-town Atlanta and asked to develop some work for them. It's an exciting opportunity for me and I don't want to disappoint this nice gallery.

Add to that, I also have a couple of art auction projects for my son's elementary school (artwork done by kids that I need to "touch up" to make sales-worthy) due next week.

And it all has to get worked around my teaching schedule.

So I'm in this serious time management crisis! 

In the Marketing Boot Camp I attended at the convention, Eric Rhoads mentioned the elephant analogy. ("How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.") Although he was referring to how an artist must tackle each of the overwhelming marketing functions required for success, I find that I need to think this way to simply chip away at the painting work itself. And as we all know, creating artwork isn't like manufacturing something from a machine: The result isn't always successful. More stress.

When I get in these situations and start getting stressed out, I've found that the most important thing I can do is to sit down with my day planner (yes, I still use the paper kind!) and come up with a schedule. This is how I "chop up my elephant." I make good use of the time I'm able to spend at my easel. If I map out what days I'll work on which projects, I can relax a bit knowing that they're on my schedule, and I'll at least have a pretty good idea of when they'll each get done.

Now, about that painting way up at the top. This is one of the pieces I'm working on for Watson Gallery, my new gallery. I may punch up the color a bit on it; still deciding. It's a large version of an oil plein air study I did in Hilton Head a few weeks ago.  Also did a small pastel demo of this scene. Since I was motivated to get a couple more new pieces ready for this gallery before I left for the convention, I decided to tackle these first in the studio before delving into my convention plein air work. I'm confident that I came home from the convention with enough inspiration that it won't wear off if it's a few more days before I get to it.


  1. Barbara, It doesn't matter if the convention ended days ago. I enjoyed reading your blog post about it. Wish I had been there. Maybe next year. I look forward to reading more about the convention and your studio work from your convention plein air studies.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Lee. The convention was really an amazing experience. I hope to be able to tackle my work from the convention soon!