Another Look at Productivity

April 10, 2014


Left: Another in a long line of sketches of actor Phil Davis, though this got rather elongated. It will probably be all of him for now as I finished all the episodes of "Whitechapel." Davis has no "real" connection to today's topic except that he's obviously productive (he has a very long list of acting projects) and he's been in at least 3 dramatizations of works of Dickens that I can remember. Fine-tipped Pentel Color Brush on 8.5 x 11 inch pink stationery paper.  

Long before I started this blog in 2009 I wrote about productivity to my students. I am a firm believer in the ways in which we improve our skills when we put thoughtful time into learning our craft, whatever it is. And I've always been fascinated by productive individuals like Dickens and J. M. W. Turner, OK pretty much all the Victorian writers and artists.

In one of my all-time favorite posts I write about "Productivity: J. M. W. Turner." I think that post still expresses my attitudes on the topic well today.

I believe that it's important to work even when you aren't inspired. I think inspiration comes when you are working. Because of this I work even when I'm under the weather like now when I have bronchitis (yeah, I thought I was going to sneak by and skip the spring crud, but I've been brought very low indeed). (I'd like to nap but naps only make me grouchy.)

You can read a post about "Sketching when You Don't Feel Well: Another Gouache Experiment"  and you can also see pages from a journal I made in 2007 when I was fighting off a cold that settled into my chest. (I get pretty grumpy let me tell you—I guess I just keep hoping that the work will bring me out of my grumpiness, and for the most part it does.) At the second link there's a grid of images and the second image in the top row (an apple) is the start of the selections from that "Cold" journal.

(This last link is from the journal section on my website. I see that there are some heading gif links broken on the tops of the pages as you get into it, but it isn't something I'm going to fix at this time. Once I started keeping the blog in 2008 I stopped posting journal selections on my website. The blog makes things a lot quicker.)

In this post from February 2012 I share some more thoughts about Dickens, of course it was the Bicentennial of his birth.

And in this post from April 2012 I write about how important the selection of a journal is to productivity.

I'm fortunate to call some really productive people friends and you can check out some of them.

Ken Avidor over on UrbanSketchers—Twin Cities.

David Steinlicht (who along with his other many talents is a very productive crop art artist—and no I don't mean crop circles). Take a moment to look at David's links list and you'll find links to his comics related work.

If you're looking for a role model in the productivity arena check out Karen Engelbretson. Enter her name in this blog's search engine to see posts I've written about the fabulous KJE Felties she makes (and which you can find on Facebook and Etsy) and her letterpress printing business. She's also a busy graphic designer who is deeply involved in waterquality issues.

Linda Koutsky is at the top of the list as a productive and creative person, but she doesn't keep a digital presence so I can't send you to a website. If you enter her name in my blog's search engine you'll see posts on her jewelry and her books on Minnesota—like her fabulous book on the Minnesota State Fair.

And if that's still not enough on productivity for you, my very productive friend writer Ricë Freeman Zachery wrote a book called "Creative Time and Space" and she interviewed me in a podcast about how I make more room in my life for creativity (which as you know from above I believe is connected with productivity). (The podcast link is always available to you at the bottom of the left column of this blog under "podcasts.")

If you want to think more about productivity check out my posts under "Goals" and "Self-evaluations," both in the category list. The posts gathered under those headings talk about how I set about setting goals and then evaluate my progress. Two things I think are essential for productivity.

I think it's time to go and be productive, whatever impediments you're facing today.

  1. Reply

    Picasso said: Creativity does excists but she has to meet you at work.

  2. Reply

    I saw a comment from someone like Baudelaire who said the same thing. I wish I’d written it down.

  3. Reply

    Karen, My favorite quotation in this vein comes from Chuck Close, perhaps because he says the magic word: process!

    “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightening to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

    Thanks for being a productive and inspiring friend.

    • Karen
    • April 14, 2014

    Thank you, Roz.

    Process indeed! And early morning dreams.

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