Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to take a weekend workshop on Japanese Sword Making from master craftsman David Goldberg. The class itself was great, with lots of fire, hammers & sharp things. It made me really wish I had some studio space again. (my condo rules don’t “specifically” forbid the use of a forge in the basement……)
But the one thing that really resonated with me was something he said that didn’t specifically apply to sword making, but more to art and life in general. I wish I could remember the words he used but the general idea was that every person has an optimum time of the day to do their creative work.
I have really been struggling to put the time into my current project. When I was younger, I used to routinely work 12-14 hour days. That’s what you did when you worked in the family business. But somewhere around the time I turned 45, I realized that you can work 24 hours a day and still never be “finished”. For the last 4 or 5 years I’ve been working a 7-3 day. I get up at 5:30-6 and am home before 4. This is partly to avoid traffic & partly so I could be home early. Since I started painting again a year & a half ago, this “early home” plan was supposed to allow me time to paint before supper. But more often than not, I get home from work and have zero energy or interest in painting. Sure there have been times where I’ve come home and painted for 2 or 3 or even 5 hours. But those times have been rare (and getting rarer).
Last Saturday morning, I got up at 6 (thanks to my amazing internal clock) , had a cup of coffee and decided to get painting. Without hardly a blink I painted for 4 hours. And it was good, productive time.
I thought back to what David had said and told Kim, “You know, my most productive time for painting is first thing in the morning. I wish I could do that everyday.” She said “well, why don’t you do that. You own the company (or part of at least). You can make your own hours.”
My initial response was no, I can’t do that. But, when I thought about, I realized there is no reason I couldn’t. In fact it actually works a bit better for the company, for reasons I won’t get into here.
So starting this morning, I’m now on a 10-6 workday. I still got up a 6, but I spent the next 3 hours painting. Then I had a leisurely breakfast on the deck in beautiful weather and left for work at 9:30. There was even less traffic than when I leave at 6:30 in the morning.
It was certainly weird this afternoon when it was 2:30, normally half an hour before I would head home, when I realized I had 3.5 hours to go. Getting home at 6:30 instead of 3:30 will take some getting used to.
The truth is that I want, no, need to paint. There was no way I was going to be able to do that consistently at the end of the work day.
I’m not terribly excited about getting home so late everyday, but I think that if I can get in 2-3 hours of painting every single morning, I am going to be very happy.