Sunday, January 13, 2013

Watching the Clock

There are all sorts of record keeping that I think are helpful to my artistic endeavors: maintaining a spreadsheet listing the details of each of my pieces, using another spreadsheet to track where my artworks are, and the like.  But this weekend, I decided that keeping track of the hours spent in my studio will not be something I'll do right now.

Why did I reach that decision?

Because I really don't need a reminder of how long it takes me to get things done. This was illustrated beautifully for me yesterday when I decided to bury my quilting threads on a new small chair piece I worked on.  Before I got started, I had gone through a mental checklist of what I might want to do better on my chair pieces.  One of the things that came to mind was trying to clean up some of the thread bulk created in the stops and stops inherent in sketching a chair.  Burying the threads seemed like a way to achieve my desired results.  Out of curiosity, I looked at the clock to see how long it took me to get from this

to this (threads buried carefully enough that you can't see them in the open space when held to the light).

I like the neatness of the final sketch, but it took me an alarmingly long time to get it all done. I'd spent a good amount of time on this piece just sketching and burying, and I wasn't close to finished, leading me to the following questions:  Do I really want to know how many hours I spend on a piece?  Do I really want to work out the price per hour?  Do I really want to worry about the time expended, if it's the right thing to do?

For me, at this point in my artistic journey, I've decided the answer is "no".  I don't want my joy of being in the studio diminished by an hourly tally.  I want to feel that all my time is well spent, regardless of how much I tangibly get done. I want to thrill in getting done what I can, to the best of my ability.  I want to ask, "Was it worth it?" about experiments in my studio, not the time spent there.


Lisa Call said...

Burying threads takes FOREVER. When I decided to start doing this I was shocked that it increased by 50% the amount of time it took to quilt something - HUGE!

But it is so so worth it - so I do it. I have gotten faster at it over time - so hopefully you will also.

Kristin L said...

Here, here! Knowing how long something takes to do is good info when you're planning on selling work, or you have a deadline and must budget time. But, at this stage, when you are exploring and finding your creative voice, I agree that time keeping just gets in the way. By the way, I find self-threading needles to be a great time saver when burying ends.

meta said...

Yes, don't keep thinking of the time.You can always estimate how long it took you, I guess.

Like the chair!

Lisa Quintana said...

Hmm. Well, it does give you a better idea on exactly how long you need to complete a piece when planning a schedule for when you need something done for an exhibition.

I agree...burying those suckers is a PITD! I have never really gotten the hang of using the self threading it takes me especially long!

norma said...

I also think it's a good idea to keep some sort of track as to how much time it takes to do something. On the other hand, I confess to not burying my threads. I know that I should, but I really hate doing it and I'm not very good at it. Maybe I should try again.