Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Filling the time available

I have discovered a new twist to Parkinson’s Law.

Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British economist, first published his theory in 1955: "Work expands to fill the time available."

But in my experience, time can expand to accommodate the work necessary, if the desire is there.

Last August, I looked ahead to my busy fall schedule and realized it would probably be Christmas before I got any serious painting done again. I was teaching four classes, one a subject I’d never taught before, and one at a school I’d never taught at before and which involved a long commute. I also anticipated writing one artist profile a month for the newspaper, which requires a full day of driving, interviewing and viewing, then at least another full day of writing. With this in mind, I cleaned up my studio and put everything away neatly on the shelves, figuring I wouldn’t be back again until December.

But Parkinson's Law had a lesson in store for me. As it turns out, even though I’ve worked like a dog this fall at my teaching and writing, I’ve still managed to paint at least a few days a week. During this time, I’ve stumbled upon a new series that I truly enjoy, while simultaneously continuing to develop the imagery and techniques I started with my “web series” last winter.

How did this happen? I had less time than usual, but I got more than usual done.

Painter David Lloyd has the answer. It’s not that an artist is ultra-disciplined, as Mr. Lloyd points out in his interview in the wonderful book “Creating A Life Worth Living”: “It’s more of an obsessive quality where you want to see what happens with something. You just keep doing it and everyone says, ‘Oh, gee, you’re so disciplined.’ … But it doesn’t take any discipline to do what you’re interested in. It’s a funny thing. It takes a lot of discipline to do what you don’t want to do.”

Want to know what I don’t want to do? Just check out the dust bunnies under my bed. Housework … now THAT takes discipline.

The image at the head of this entry is called “Red Knots 2” – it’s acrylic on paper, 30” H x 22” W, and was made in September 2007.

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