Finding The Right Pace To Make Art – A Ramble

2016 Artwork Pacing yourself article

Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about finding the right pace to make art. Although I’ll be spending virtually all of this article talking about the pace that I make art at, everyone is different and different things work for different people.

So, everything I say in this article is just an example of one way to pace yourself whilst making art. It isn’t the way that you “should” make art.

Anyway, back when I started making art every day in 2012, I quickly got to a point where I’d make several small drawings per day. In fact, as recently as 2014, I was making about two to four small paintings per day. However, unless I’m making a webcomic, I usually only make one small painting per day these days.

So, why have I slowed down?

It’s all to do with pacing myself. I’ve found that the risk of being uninspired is slightly lower if I only make one painting per day. If I’m feeling even mildly inspired, then trying to just make one painting per day means that I’ll be looking forward to making the next painting even more. In other words, it’s a way of maintaining my enthusiasm for painting (rather than using it all up in a single marathon painting session).

If I make several paintings in a single day, then it can be harder to think of ideas for the next day’s paintings. If I have lots of ideas, then I’ll sometimes quickly sketch them out in my sketchbook, but I’ll try to only turn one (or very rarely two) of them into paintings per day. This means that I don’t have to worry about coming up with new ideas for several days. It’s a way of making inspiration last longer.

The other reason that I quite like making just one painting per day is because of the large “buffer” of art that I’ve built up from the days when I used to make art more regularly. Although I almost always manage to make one painting per day, having a large stock of pre-made paintings (that I can post online each day) takes some of the pressure out of making art and it allows me to keep going at a reasonable pace.

Even when I’m not feeling inspired, having a rule about only making one painting per day can also help me keep painting. First of all, it lowers my expectations slightly – since I don’t have to worry about producing multiple paintings. I just have to make one painting, and this is something I can do when I’m uninspired.

Likewise, when I’m feeling uninspired, having a “one painting per day” rule can also be a form of damage limitation. Since I take my “make art every day” rule fairly seriously, I’ll still produce art when I’m not inspired – although it usually isn’t very good. Since artistic uninspiration usually tends to pass after a few days, limiting the amount of art that I make during this time also reduces the number of crappy paintings that appear here.

Ironically though, I don’t have this rule when I’m making webcomics. Instead, I used a different rule – which is something along the lines of “don’t spend more than about a week or so on a webcomic“.

By following this rule, I can produce multiple comic updates per day (and build up my “buffer” of daily art/comics updates) but I’m able to stop before I feel too burnt out. This is why most of my webcomics that have appeared here this year have been released as shorter mini series (they can be seen here, here, here, here and here).

Of course, this is just what works for me. Everyone is different and different things work for different people. Still, it’s usually worth finding the pace that works best for you. However, the only way to learn what works for you is through trial, error and experimentation – so, it can sometimes take a while to get it right.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

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