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A Day in the Life…

This post is inspired from one of my co-workers, Jenny, who asks me questions on how I organize myself and how I start my day. Believe me, I take my creative time very seriously. Let me give you a quick weekly briefing: Five days out of the week I work at University Art Center in San Jose and factoring in commute time I’m out of the house for about 11 hours. Usually one of the remaining two days of the week is spent teaching. Time is precious and here is an example of how I spend my day “off”. Enjoy!

6:30 – Wake up. If I treat myself I’ll lay in bed and cuddle with my girls until 7 . Let the girls out of the bedroom and into the backyard. Turn on the classical station, make coffee, slice up strawberries into some cereal, turn on computer. Have breakfast with my umbrella cockatoo, Angel, while reading e-mails. I have included a photo for those who are unfamiliar of what it’s like to eat breakfast with a bird while trying to type on your computer. Spend a couple hours getting computer stuff out of the way, this includes reading about upcoming competitions, checking out any interesting art articles, social networking, and updating my website. Angel sits on my lap and I give her scratches with one hand and type with the other. She talks to me with her limited vocabulary: “Apples, Happy, Angel, Hi” and I repeat what she says back to her (I am very well-trained).

9:00 – Let girls back into the house because they are standing by the back door. Head out to the field to say hello to the boys. Throw some hay into the feeders, change the water, put on fly masks, rake up manure.

9:30 – Let girls back outside, make a chores to-do list. I allocate one singe solitary hour of my day to household chores and one hour to studio chores. My list might look something like this:

Clean floors Laundry 1 hour studio Sweep back patio Water plants Dishes Manure Organize desk Clean kitchen counters/stove E-mail Joe Blow Organize studio Safeway Bank

The trick with the to-do list is to be ok if you don’t get everything done on the list. I start some laundry and spend exactly 1 hour house cleaning.

10:30 – I repeat this practice with my studio. There is always something that can make my studio more efficient. Whether it’s straightening, organizing, building a fixture, going through some old canvases, or just plain cleaning the windows, I spend one hour making that room better. I let the girls into studio and they roost on my area rug. While in the studio I think of my art project for the day. Do I work on a commission? Do I practice encaustic? Do I prepare a sample painting for an upcoming class? Do I paint something for myself? I figure out what I want to do and begin to gather materials.

11:30 – NOW MY DAY BEGINS! Since it’s gorgeous outside in the fall I arrange my workspace on the back patio. I put a chair near my easel and Angel perches on top of it. Maybe I’ll set up my IPad camera to record what I’m working on, I might have a notepad nearby to take notes on my process. Now I start to play. The afternoon is devoted to art and I delight in having my animals around me while I paint. In between paint layers I’ll give Angel a scratch and discuss the apple situation with her:

“Apples!” “Oh good, I’m glad there are apples.” “Apples!” “Yes, thank you for letting me know about the apples.” “Apples!” “Really? I had no idea about the apples!”

1:00 – Figure out a quick lunch and continue to work. If I’m lucky my husband is at home and puts a plate of food next to my palette. If my husband is not at home I stroll down the road to the little taco truck on the corner. The girls roost around the yard. I throw them some tidbits from my lunch. Angel watches them gobble up the treats.

2:00 – Check on boys, refill their water buckets. If it’s hot I’ll spray them down.

2:30 – Put Angel back on her cage so she can have some food and water if she likes. She promptly climbs down to sit with my husband on the couch. Continue working. If I’m outside I adjust my easel periodically because the light changes. Change my water, refresh my palette.

5:30 – Head back out to the field and tuck the boys in for the night. Hay, water, take off fly masks and apply scratches.

6:00 -The light is fading and the wind is picking up so I begin to close up shop. I find that if I try to color match this late in the day to something I mixed earlier in the afternoon I end up with an off color. If I plow through this (knowing full well that the light is completely different) I make color errors and I am fixing rather than paining. This only applies when I’m working outside in the natural light. I dump my water, put my paint tubes back in their bucket and bring the painting into the studio. I thoroughly clean my brushes in the sink with my favorite brush cleaner: Master’s Brush Cleaner.

The rest of the evening – Have dinner with all life-forms in the house, usually while watching a cooking show. I can paint ’till the cows come home but put me in a kitchen and you’ll end up with cereal or PB&J if you’re lucky. So I live vicariously through the cooking channel. Everyone’s ready to go to bed so I cover Angel’s cage with her blanket and turn out the lights. By this time the girls are already roosting on their towel behind my pillow. As I drift off to sleep I think of how I’m going to continue on the art project I worked on today. Or what color I’m running out of. Or that I still need to move those boxes out of my studio. Or that I should really build those wood panels. Or…

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