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Fresh Beginnings

Initial sketch for “Grady”
Initial sketch for “Grady”

Sometimes I work on only one painting at a time. It can help keep me focused and I can continue where I left off the next day without having to refresh myself on where I was and what I was doing on the piece.

Sometimes, especially when I’m working on a larger piece, I find it helps to work simultaneously on more than one piece at a time. It gives me a chance to have multiple ‘fresh beginnings’ each day. There are artists out there that bounce back and forth between MANY pieces every day - slowly moving them all forward. That method generally doesn’t work as well for my OCD brain though. I’ve heard that multitasking isn’t real – it’s just rapidly shifting your focus between multiple things and actually reduces efficiency. I prefer to immerse myself and focus fully on one piece at a time before switching.

HOWEVER, it is true that too much focus for too long dulls your senses. For me, a 2-3 hour stretch is when I do my best work. Beyond that, I can keep going but I’m not as sharply engaged and things start to become a bit sloppy. I think of a pencil as the analogy. When I first start, my pencil is fresh and sharply pointed. After using it for a while though, I have to take a break and sharpen the point to get the best results.

So, after an intense few hours of painting, I find the need to stop, take a break and do something different. It’s a great time to take a walk with my dog, Phoebe, do some yoga or get a snack. Even after that, if I’m ready to do more work after my break, I find I do best when I focus on something new. Sometimes it’s a completely different segment of the same painting. Sometimes it’s a different piece entirely.

That’s where doing preparatory work for another painting can come into play. That’s what I’m doing a lot lately. I’m currently working on a large commission – an 18x24 inch scene of a sunken boat in a dilapidated boat house on a mountain lake. It has a lot of detail and will take me months of focused attention to finish.

Photo of untitled work in progress painting by Barbara Teusink
Untitled - Work in Progress

So, to keep myself sharp after my time of fresh concentrated focus on painting finishes each day, I take a break and then turn my attention to another project – sketching out future paintings. Just this week, I also completed the composition and initial sketch for my next small painting in between painting sessions on the untitled piece.


Esoterica: In contemplating the title for this message, the song “Begin the Beguine” popped into my head. Do you remember that one? It’s an oldie for sure, but I sometimes enjoy music from that era. What a perfect excuse to watch two of the greatest dancers of all time dancing to Begin The Beguine: Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell (joined for the finale by future senator George Murphy). Holy cow, could that man dance!

I currently have art on display at a few locations around the midlands. You can see more detail about the upcoming exhibits here on my website under SHOWS.


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