Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Bettye W. Harwell

Drawing using pencils, metallic silver on toned and printed paper
Cropped image scanned onto white background. My son (though he would deny it.)

Today, I was once again, trying to organize paper, just paper.  I am ready to write. I tell myself over and over, I will write today.

Today as I was sorting to gather all of the last 2 years of research  on my latest women series (more to come), I kept finding jottings and sketches and ephemera. Ephemera includes articles , photos, preliminary and just-because sketches.

This sketch is one of the few efforts to record my boys. Their personalities escape me visually. The girls I know visceral. Been there. Done that.

I thought today, this is not bad in capturing him or someone like him. A subject can see his/her  own image interpreted by the artist, and deny any relationship. Which is OK. Often the person grows into the painting. Sometimes they are so familiar with their faces in the mirror, reversed that they cannot imagine another angle.

I have done self-portraits, precariously clinging on the bathroom face bowl while checking the mirror. Who is that old lady and why is she staring at me? Happy Halloween.

I am researching an artist of mixed race, dating 1800s. One critic of her work describes her as having white features from the eyes up, and signs of her other parentage by her thick lips and coffee-colored skin.  The comments are from another long-gone era but echo today. This gifted lady was reduced by this critic to her ethnicity and not her talent. (Fortunately she received fame and some fortune with her talent.)

Who knew?

With all of the tools we have for organization, it is still difficult to organize paper. What if you throw away something you will need? Once the piles are made, then what? My papers are all sizes, all subjects, all precious. I find at the mid-pont, that I cannot remember which pile is for what. And today, I took this sketch to the computer to share with you as a way of preserving it.

Did you know?

I have been a sometime blogger for a long time. Last year I sold one of the women series  (Rosa Bonheur).  I have been working on these paintings for nearly three years. Selling one put a lot of pressure on me to determine what the exit strategy would be to complete the series.

I decided that for an exhibit, 30 paintings would be the magic number. So I have been for months  selecting the last ones. Every time I counted, the number to-do seemed to expand. Now I am up to choosing the final two. My list of good choices has grown beyond any definite closing number. I am committed to 30 or maybe 31 because of the sale. Pretty sneaky, I say.

Those of you who show and sell your work will understand that just finishing the work is not the end. Documentation, promotion, framing, if paintings, etc. Where was that business plan, carefully written last year?  I know that my iPad chews up the very data I have stored.

Getting organized

1. Put all of the pertinent files in one place.

2. Keep your reference material close at hand. I have accumulated, books, articles and online information.

3. Make a format that will set the style for each painting. Later you can adapt for promotional requirements.

4. Have that place where you can think and write which has lights, water and a way of telling time.

5. Take a break periodically whether you want to stop or not.

6. Do not think and write. Write and then come back to edit. If you know something is not accurate, mark it, write a question, or in some way leave yourself a note.

7. When you are certain, ask someone to read it, read it aloud to yourself or someone else, tape it and play it back. The flow will not show up at first.

Now, if I can just follow my own suggestions…and file those papers off the floor.


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"Gone Fishin'"Birthday Opportunities

Each year we get two special days to review our lives and to make changes: New Year’s Day and your birthday. My recent celebration reminds me of when Mr. Stockdale asked Why am I here? My question was What have I still to do?

The answer is a long list of things to finish and things to begin. Two years ago on New Year’s Day, I realized my research notes and art works were in no condition to be understood by anyone. Not even my co-researcher daughter who collaborated with me on genealogy. Not even my artist friends. And so I made organization a priority.

Ha, how am I doing? Not as well as I had hoped. I have reasons and excuses. First, my priority changed. Maybe veered. The body took the top of the list. It has taken two full years to get my body in line with my mind. Aging makes the need for balance in both walking and thinking. I am happy to say that I understand what makes me more productive and am fortunate to free up my schedule for work. And for me, work is fun!

My goals post birthday are:
1…to acknowledge what I have accomplished.
My studio work continues to impress and challenge. More subjects for my Women Series are discovered often, and I have started the writing needed. (biographical and marketing).
I am studying and producing work in new (to me) media including encaustic.

2…to finish what I start.
WordPress followers are my daily routine. i have my favorites, but all provide nuggets for a curious mind. I reblog or comment often even if my posts are neglected. And so time has to be set aside for any and all online commitments. I have signed up for a few that I have no idea how they work. And unfortunately the ‘improvements’ often do not work for me. Oh, to have some of the older apps!

3…with each work in process, find a place for it.
Plastic storage helps me see what I am working on.
Clear my workspaces at least at the end of the week. I like to leave the next week’s work laid out with notes. When I come in, I will be ready to start.
Group supplies and tools near the workspace where they will be used.
Make notes on where things are to save hours of searching.

4…personal time is work time.
If you are not healthy and sleep sufficiently, you can not have needed balance. People who work for themselves cannot remember where the time went. When I worked for the Girl Scouts of Chicago, my daily schedule was kept in three blocks. We worked so many nights, in meetings or training, that we tried to leave blocks open to prevent unnecessary overtime. When this was not possible, I had the time for school activities or sick children. I could take time off for vacations or me-time. Now I must remember to give myself permission to work or not. We should not feel guilty about making time for friends and shopping!

Soon the next day for evaluation will come and I will see how I am doing. The next few months will give you time for assessing what you need in your life for happiness.

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Friday Specials –
Time Capsule

What is our time worth? The continuing discussion of women’s work is discouraging.

Who knew?

We have accepted that there is not enough money to compensate women. (more…)

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"by B. W. Harwell"

"by B. W. Harwell"

Time flies

What happened to the time since Thanksgiving?

What happened this whole year?

What will be special about 2012?

Now that it is December 2,  take some time to gather all the 2011 lists and wishes together. Clean out the pockets and purses and fill a basket with those ideas. A more quiet week will come later between the  25th and the 2nd of January when an hour or two will be all it takes.   Review these pieces of paper,  journal entries or where ever you write to-do lists.

Some things move from list to list. Not that they were the most difficult or the least needed. Time just did not get them done. Add a few new must-do’s.  Call your friends more often. Take better care of yourself. Schedule that examination with your doctor or dentist. Get advice on your financial future. Let someone, your child or a trusted friend, in on where you will need help. Be a better friend.

The big categories need a sub-category or two. More than that and nothing will get done. Specific tasks are better than generalities. Keep a marker close by to cross off most of the 2012 wishes.


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Artist: B. W. Harwell

Become a Business?

Not all artists want to sell their work. Those visual artists who want opportunities to  sell must apply creativity and business skills. Preparation for a one-person show must allow for framing and promotion.  Some of the best outlets are online. Select from those where artists are selling and not just getting exposure.

Artists are very generous in sharing their resources. Some ideas will work for you. You can  teach, study, or volunteer (WordPress?) while building an audience. Weigh the  costs in time and money so that you get results. Musicians have a union which assists in getting work and setting recommended standards of pay. Visual artists do not have that luxury.

My friend, Greg Ridley, most often said, “Get in your studio and work.”


A thank you to the subscribers, followers and  casual readers.It has been a fun experience to share my thoughts.  Also, the comments of encouragement, have been unexpected and appreciated.

Who knew?

Special occasions are opportunities to send cards to special people in your life. Some of the most creative and beautiful online are Jaquie Lawson’s animations.



If you are not reading the poetry on Narcissus, Hibiscus and Mandrake, subscribe  to  that blog and get the poems in your email. Of course, you can click on the blogroll.

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Friday already?
How often are we so caught up in our lives that we are astonished to learn time has passed so quickly? Diaries and journals remind us that we were indeed participants. The finished and undone plans remain among the pages challenging us to use our time wisely. The hands of the clock, the turning of the calendar page and the falling of the leaves never go in reverse.

The written journey
The flavor of our time, journal-keeping, started for many with the 5 year diary. Its cover locked with a key and about five ruled lines seemed too much space for our young lives. Skip forward to the multitude of writing materials from soft or hard covers, spiral or bound, any color or type of paper and the computer (WordPress). There is no excuse for not having or inventing an interesting life ‘for your children’ to pore over when you are gone. There will always be the trash basket looming.

Commitment to writing
As I neared 80 years old, I began a journal “Approaching Eighty.” In due time, I reached that milestone and needed more of the colorful, spiral, blank paged notebooks to continue recording my thoughts and activities. Prior attempts to keep a journal with any consistency using the computer had failed. For those in my age group, the pen and paper continues to have appeal.

The art store stopped stocking these sketchbooks. I bought them 6 at a time online. And then in June, 2011 alas, no spirals in the house! Other blank books in various sizes and shapes were not enticing. When you are ready to write, no delay is possible. And so the current journal is a larger soft cover Moleskine. The cream colored blank pages work very well for pen and colored pencils. The first entry says

Nothing is original —
You do not need to be clairvoyant, but it helps —
Start your project —
No one can duplicate your work
and so do not waste time copying another —
Set a goal, a time and aim for completion —
I would do well
to follow my own advice.

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Organizing for change
It used to be WOMAN’s Day and FAMILY CIRCLE, magazines for women with instructions on how to organize their lives and their families. Not enough seating or money for chairs? Take old newspapers (remember the newspaper?) and make sit-upons. A stack could be pulled out at parties for people young enough to sit on the floor with the expectation they could get up before dawn.

Articles told specifically how to maintain a clean house and a happy family. (COSMOPOLITAN came later with details about romance and keeping one’s husband happy.) That clean house thing always was a problem. Each day had it’s routine things to do. Each week and each month there were those special things added. A list glared at you each day intimidating, and daring a dust ball to be found under the bed.

Those seasonal must-dos were ingrained from our childhood. Twice a year,take the beds out into the sun. Boil water to pour over the frames guaranteeing no bugs for months. Hang the rugs over the clothes line and beat them until the sun was obliterated by a cloud of dust. Wash all bedding and clothes. Throw out the outgrown clothes too worn for hand-me-downs.

That was why we married young: to get away from a routine of work. And cooking and canning and making jellies! What followed would be the joy of seeing labor saving machinery make our lives easier. Or so it seemed until Martha Stewart’s LIVING reminded us that there was still much to be done. Halloween decorations and foods to be made by hand….

It is fall now. The internet is the new source of how-tos. In addition to being the most creative person you can be, we are offered ways to organize the home office. BlogCARFTZINE.COM explains how to make folders to hang on the wall for newspaper clippings, spiral notebooks spread around wherever you may be for the illusive idea. Note: use mechanical pencils as they will not need sharpening.

It is not that these things are not important. They are. Without the calendar on the computer, how would we be notified that the children will be home for Thanksgiving? Their bedrooms will need to be cleaned, special vegan recipes will have to be organized in the spiral notebooks with suggested shopping lists in the folders on the wall. We will not have to look for something to write with when they call.

There will be plenty of time to make the Holiday decorations and to shop before they show up with their children.

Who knew?
There really are a number of good ideas on Flipboard app and many other organzational tools available on the internet. Even in the newspaper!

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