…and all of it – a privilege

Notes for and to my students….

I often talk with you about your studio practice. No Pictures is dedicated, in part, to you because you ask how I do what I do. My hope is that this curiosity extends itself to the study and understanding of how others do what they do in this field. And finally, that you come to your own dedicated studio practice in whatever discipline (s) you choose.

Let’s start there, with the word discipline.

Discipline is the foundation of a studio practice. This does not mean that it is not fun. What it does mean is that it comes first. There is a belief that in “discipline there is freedom”. From the standpoint of a rigorous studio practice this is true. Without creating a container in which to work there can be no freedom to create. And yes, this can be a constant struggle and most likely will be for the rest of your days. Learn to embrace and ride that wave now.

A model not unlike many:

As I look at this year, this is what is happening…

As an arts administrator the expectation is that I am in my office dedicated to working on everything but my teaching and my studio for 20 hours a week. This rarely is the case. What the office hours come to actually is about 35 hours a week.

Teaching, as you know in terms of contact hours, is 3 hours a week per class. I am teaching 3 classes.  9 hours of class time added to that; 35 hours. This does not include 3 hours of public seminar /workshop per week plus independent study students. And finally prep for classes. You are getting the picture, yes? Then grading. It is no surprise to me that some of my students complain about the amount of writing they have to do (which translates as the reading I have to do). However…

As artists you must know how to write and talk about your work, and others work as well. In addition you must understand and know how to read, research and think critically about what surrounds you.

So where is the studio time coming in?

  1. Studio every morning until I leave for work.  Up early.
  2. All weekend. Fri. Sat. Sun. ( exception to this is grading papers in evening )
  3. Summer in the studio
  4. Spring break – studio
  5. Winter break – studio
  6. Between semesters – studio

As we have also discussed, studio does not mean just making work, it means conceptualizing, traveling, looking, discussing with peers, reading, then there is the administration- getting materials together, photographing, website, Tweeting, etc., being in touch with galleries, grant writing, curators, that list continues.

So now you see the picture a bit more, two items, perhaps, to reference.

  1. Discipline.
  2. Show up.

It is the studio that perpetuates all other activity and to which one needs to surrender. It is the container that needs to be in order and it will feed you. But it must be the priority. The other hours that I am working outside of the studio also are related to art making. What this points to is that you cannot only work in the studio without some outside source of inspiration – that can take many forms.


In planning this year I have two large shows that will be back to back; one in September one in November – one for the gallery in Santa Fe, and one here for Fort Collins. This means a lot of work. The work will not travel. I will need enough work for 2 shows simultaneously, plus some in reserve. About 40 pieces to work with. That does not mean they are all shown – what it means is that we choose the best from those 40. There are three other projects pending. It is likely these are group endeavors –  that  means that I need to have at least 20 works to look at – to access.  Not shots in the dark, not different bodies of work, not practice – but something that is the commentary that I want it to be.

None of this means I am on the production train. What it points to is the amount of studio time and planning that I am doing. I will have that work because it is a body of work that is developing over time.

This was how I was trained. Everyone around me was making work, teaching, administrating, showing – professionals in the field. All aspects interconnected. All they did was dedicated to their work. All of it – a privilege.

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