7 wins with my number 1 studio tool

My number 1 studio tool

What is my number 1 studio tool?

Is it possible for an artist to choose a favourite tool? Is paint more worthy than canvas? Does the pen trump paper or ink? Will a digital artist favour a tablet over an editing program? Is the sketch journal most important?

It’s difficult to think of one tool as the most important in any creative discipline. However, there is one tool whose importance has proven so powerful in my life and art practice that I spend much of December working with it. When this tool is fully utilised, I’m repeatedly astounded by the results.

My number 1 studio tool is the purposeful act of deciding what I value in my life (and in my arts practice), crafting a blueprint, and then following it. 

Everything I’ve achieved artistically is because I take a reasonable chunk of time, at least yearly, to ponder what I value, and then make written plans to work toward that daily.

urgent matters are rarely important

The Franklin Planner method proved to be crucial to me as a wife and stay at home mum selling coloured pencil portraits of the children in my young mothers’ groups.  One pivotal idea I learned from Franklin was urgent matters are rarely important.  Click here to learn more about the Franklin system.

make sure the climb is the one you want

As a single-again mother I soaked up the leadership wisdom of John Maxwell at a Saturday day-long seminar.  I was grateful the church I attended paid the tuition so I could meet him in person. 

His books helped me ascertain what deserved top attention in my life.  Maxwell urged us “not to be so busy climbing up the ladder in life only to get to the top to discover you’re on the wrong ladder (my paraphrase). This had a huge impact on me.

I decided art, amongst other things, was paramount for me.  So, I wrote down ideas and ways to start an art ministry within my large sized congregation.  

I managed two exhibitions staged in the church grand foyer before I fell in love with and married my Kiwi husband and shifted my family to New Zealand.

Fresh start in a new land

Coming to New Zealand was a fresh start.  So, it was important to consider what my husband and I genuinely desired for the two of us, our family, and for my arts practice.  Then I crafted a scheme and plugged away on it daily.

In the first 12 years living here, I participated in numerous exhibitions and co-founded a thriving area arts group in my new hometown. I had two major solo exhibitions: one at the commercial art gallery in Gore and the other at the Anderson Park Art Gallery in Invercargill.

Then I partnered with artist jeweller, Anna Claire, for a 2021 exhibition at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.  All the while, I co-parented a family of five offspring, and managed a renovation, followed by a move and another major renovation.  And, we made several journeys back to see my parents in the USA.

I have purposefully left out a lot that occurred during that period because, well, everybody is busy!!!  However, I’m pleased I decided to spend my time focussing on achieving that which aligns with my values.  

business values

Learning to own and run a business introduced me to Michael Hyatt.  His book, Living Forward, co-authored with Daniel Harkavy, helped me better understand what was valuable to me as a business owner.  I appreciated their accessible and practical approach to implement valued actions in my life.

tough time values

I found the Living Forward philosophy immensely powerful right after closing my brick and mortar.  My business could no longer be what I wanted, but my values and main life aspirations remained unchanged.  

I built on that foundation when I hired life coach, Clarice Fluitt, for several sessions.  Then I was ready for the world.  Or, so I thought.

when the world changes

The world changed when Covid 19 arrived in 2020.  New Zealand shut her borders and imposed two hard no-nonsense lockdowns.  My response was to launch a new YouTube Channel. I churned out 31 weekly videos.

Then I took a break and properly grieved my losses (Click here for that story).

Despite Covid disruptions, in December 2020, I created my 2021 plan in written form instead of digital.  I determined I would re-enter the “local art scene”.  

I made studio schedules for completing pieces for competitions and a chart for posting on social media.  I researched and applied to participate in a commercial art show event for the first time.  

I devised a written plan for all of this.  Then I worked on it every day.

Covid lockdowns and cancellations certainly disrupted every exhibition in which I participated, including the Dunedin Art Show. But,  I created art, including a 22-day challenge for Social Media. 

Considering I spent a large portion of 2021 decluttering my home of leftover business equipment and supplies, I’m please I could manage to create all  that art.

knowing my most important priority

Because I had determined my life with my husband was top priority,  I resolved in December 2021 that in early 2022 I would move my art studio from our open-plan lounge dining room to an unoccupied bedroom.  I achieved that early February 2022.  The bonus is now have my dining room back and can invite folks over for dinner. You can learn more about this by clicking here.

I also relaunched my YouTube channel last February.  The Charles Bargue drawing videos have continued to be popular in spite of my break from the platform.  

7 wins from my number 1 studio tool

  1. Urgent matters are rarely important.
  2. Make sure the ladder you climb is the one you want to be on
  3. Decide what is valuable. Make a plan.  Work the plan every day.
  4. Continue to seek better understanding of values important to you.
  5. Changed circumstance can alter the hierarchy of your values, but not what you truly value.
  6. Know your values before the world changes.
  7. It’s okay to take a break and stop pushing.  That’s called self-care.

Knowing what I value, and meditating frequently on implementation with a written plan, and then working that plan is, indeed, the number 1 tool in my studio.

If you’d like to know more about the organisational tools I use, let me know in the comments below.

Your turn

What do you think about my number 1 studio tool?

What do you consider to be the most valuable tool in your practice?

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