The type of detailed painting we like to do is necessarily a SLOW process.
It is not an activity that lends itself to instant gratification. Quite the opposite.
But that’s what makes it a fantastic antidote to our speed obsessed culture these days.
Our culture considers time to be a scarce and finite resource that we are always running out of.
I’ve just watched this ironically very speedy talk by Carl Honore about his book ‘In praise of slowness’.
In it he describes some of the positive health benefits (mental and physical) of slowing down on a regular basis.
And painting is one activity where we can and should chose to slow down.
Even if we can only paint for an hour at a time. Or even 30 minutes. We don’t need to rush. If we accept that the process will take time, we can relax into it and simply focus on the current stage we are working on, without becoming fixated on finishing…NOW
If you’re someone who tends to want to rush your painting, wanting the finished product over and above a relaxing painting session try this approach….
Reward yourself (don’t think of it as some kind of punishment!) with an extra S..L..O..W painting session.
See how slowly you can paint. Make that the goal.
I don’t mean by leaving your painting un-worked on for weeks at a time (that’s a whole other kind of slow), I mean slow down the physical act of painting.
We can treat it as a kind of meditation.
And I think you’ll be surprised at how enjoyable it can be.
I stumbled upon this myself when I was Artist in Residence for a full 7 days at a museum a few years ago. I’d only brought one subject, an orchid, to paint, and by the end of the first day I realised that I’d totally overestimated how long it was going to take me. But I didn’t fancy starting something new.
So I decided to do an experiment and see if I could make the painting last for the full 7 days. I did, and it was extremely relaxing.
And I think others could pick up on the relaxed way I’d painted the flower as someone bought it from me before I’d even finished it!
So as Carl Honore urges, if you want to feel more relaxed and actually more productive, get in touch with your inner tortoise.
I’d love to hear from you if rushing and speeding are an issue for you. How have you managed to slow down?