Painting Procrastination

Dan Schultz

I long ago discovered something about myself while working in my studio. It is most apparent in one particular area of my work. When starting a new painting, I tend to procrastinate.
This tendency seems to be limited to studio work. When I paint outdoors, I have no problem getting started — I choose my location, quickly plan my composition and off I go.

So what is it about studio painting that makes me hesitate to begin? I’m fine through the planning stage for the new piece, and even drawing it out on my canvas. It’s the physical act of starting to paint that seems to hold me back. I find that I’m suddenly distracted by other things that need doing — framing or photographing new paintings, updating my website, catching up on what my Facebook friends are having for dinner, etc.

I suppose fear is likely the cause of my procrastination. What if my idea is better than the finished painting conveys? And since I’ve spent time planning and developing my idea, it feels like there is more at stake for the final result. (Which is probably why I’m not affected when painting a more quickly planned piece outdoors.)

I’m liberated each time by simply starting to paint. Pushing past the distractions and forcing my brush onto the canvas takes care of the problem.

I know other artists who have similar issues. Some, like me, have trouble starting. Others have trouble finishing — they always seem to be feverishly adding final touches to their canvases as they’re sliding them into the shipping box.

Do any of you have studio troubles like these?

I find it fascinating that out of the worldwide population, the relatively small number of us creative folks who are painters are still such a diverse group. We each have our own unique challenges, strengths and specific ways of doing things.

I guess the saying is true: I’m unique, just like everybody else!

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