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Purposeful Procrastination


pro·cras·ti·nate

/prəˈkrastəˌnāt/

verb

  1. delay or postpone action; put off doing something.


Procrastination is almost always associated with a negative action and attributes such as laziness. Most often, when we procrastinate, there's a nagging feeling poking at the forefront of our memories that we are really trying to suppress because we feel the task isn't fun or it's difficult or we're tired. "I'll do the dishes later", "I'll pick up the toy from the stairs later", "I'll do my taxes later". Well, when you want to start cooking and the pan you need requires washing, it just delays the time amount of time it takes to be able to eat. That leftover toy can send someone reeling down the stairs. Those taxes might be late and you'll be charged a late fine when they finally arrive. Those non-actions can lead to negative outcomes.


But is this the same with art? When we get inspired and the idea doesn't get on canvas right away, does the idea fade away into the abyss? Yes, sometimes. I say that's good. Who wants to paint something that can be easily forgotten? If you forgot about it, likely your viewers will too.


To paint something memorable, I theorize that we must procrastinate from painting our ideas right away. If the idea sticks when your done your chores or finished another painting, or get caught up on your accounting, etc., and it's as clear as the first moment it came to your mind, then that piece will be good, if not great. If the idea kind of pitters off or you think about 3 or 4 other ideas equally as good, or you just sort of forget about it because some other idea was more striking, then obviously, the first idea may not be a masterpiece that sells as fast as you'd like.


If I'm honest, there are times I go through old sketchbooks and was like - oh ya, I liked that idea. I forgot about this one. And there are paintings that will take a year or more to get to, because it took that long to develop the skill I needed, or clearly articulate my vision in my sketchbook, or collect all the references I needed - But the idea never faded and the painting sold quite quickly, while other paintings I completed as soon as the idea was there, have sat in a gallery for years!


This isn't of course, a hard and fast rule, and lets be real, procrastination isn't required for every good piece of art. But sometimes it helps.



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