The Artist’s Workshop

Sneak peek into the artist's workshop

Sometimes, you get tired of talking about strategy, reviewing blueprints and pouring over process documents. Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty, venture out to the factory floor and turn your idea into something you’ve created.

As a young guy, I grew up next to a pretty famous artist in our area. His work was well-known, but as a person he seemed distant and unapproachable, especially by a young boy who was intrigued by everything. His gruff voice, long grey beard, and soul piercing eyes were quite intimidating to 10 year old boy.

Without anyone knowing, I would sneak over to his workshop and look in the windows. I was always amazed at the paintings and carvings that were scattered throughout his private workspace. Every time I would venture out to take a “peek” I would look for something new to check out. At one point, I knew he spotted me, but he never said anything. He went along working as usual.

The more comfortable I became, the less stealth I was in my window peeking. I can’t say I was busted, but I remember the day he invited me into the workshop. My heart was racing, I was nervous and most of all I was afraid he would tell my Dad. When I told him I just liked his art, he allowed me to stay and watch him paint. I was mesmerized as I watched him work, step-back, look and paint some more.

As you can see, I never forgot this moment. And each time I recall this memory, I remember something different.

Real Artists Create

Looking back, the thing that stood out the most was how the workshop looked. There were canvases laying around. Chunks of wood were propped against the walls. There was a kaleidoscope of paint on the floor from past projects.

It was a working masterpiece of where things happened.

I learned the difference between an artist’s workshop and your local home improvement store. One is a place where creativity takes place, the other is a showroom for tools and supplies.

Have you heard anyone say, “I could spend all day at Lowe’s?”

These guys are usually the ones that have a garage full of saws, nail guns, every hammer and compressor you could think of. Each time a new model comes out they need to replace the old one with the latest and greatest. They read magazine about tools. Explore websites and blogs that provide tool reviews. They’re drawn to the latest and the best.

One thing I recall about my neighbor, the artist, nothing looked like that it was new. You could tell that each brush and chisel was a device that had spent hours in his hand. Some of them looked like they should have been thrown out, but it was obvious that the most important thing to him was how his creation looked in the end.

If you’re only in the business of collecting tools, you’ll never ship your creative idea.

At the end of the day, one of the most fulfilling things is to developing an idea, produce it, and then ship it.

Action Steps

  1. Clear the clutter and recommit to spending time in your creative space.
  2. Be intentional and block out time to write, shoot video, paint… in other words, produce your product.
  3. Commit to a deadline that you’ll ship, launch etc. your creative work.
  4. And then don’t stop until it’s finished!

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image credit: troy wandzel

  • katfrench

    Great post David. I’m going to be working on a fiction project this weekend. It’s going to be messy at first…first drafts always are… But that’s how you make art. Push through the messy to get to the real.

  • http://www.davidsfinch.com David Finch

    Thanks for the comment, Kat. Good luck on the writing project. Before long, there could be a book. :)