People don't listen to classical music as much as they used to. Many would define it as slow or boring, and in comparison with the fast paced, drum driven, digital glitching music of today they're not wrong to feel it that way.
This is true in every form of media. Why play a board game when you can play a video game with exciting graphics and sound? Why watch a stage play when you can watch a movie with impossible action and breathtaking visuals? Why read an article when you can watch a YouTube vlog with jump cuts mid-sentence ensuring none of your precious time is wasted?
This is the evolution of media and technology and it's not inherently bad, in many ways it's incredibly good. New media offers all kinds of great things that shouldn't be discounted, but it also comes with a risk. We get used to the idea that we need to be perpetually entertained, every second of every day. When we're used to being constantly stimulated by new #content
, how can we ever expect to sit down for 8 hours and finish a great painting? How can spending 30 minutes rendering someone's left forearm compete with the thrill of an action movie?
It can't. And it shouldn't have to.
Much like classical music or a stage play, making artwork is a slow process. It requires patience, focus, and a lot... of..... time. And for most of us that requires some proactive conditioning of our brain. Now don't worry, I'm not saying you should cancel your internet and only listen to Mozart for the rest of your life, but if you struggle with focus, I would highly recommend committing to this rule:Before and during work hours, avoid highly stimulating media.
Now i'm no brain science man, but this is something I've learned from my mentors and have found to be very true in my own work. If I play video games in the morning before painting, I can't focus. If I try to watch movies on the side during the long process of rendering, I can't focus. If my phone is buzzing with new emails and tweets to check every 5 minutes, I can't focus. As a result of this cumulative effect, I've spent many 10 hour days and accomplished only 2 hours of work.
Without exception, I have always made my best work in the shortest amount of time when I commit myself to focus. I still watch plenty of movies and play plenty of games, but only after
I finish my art for the day. Our perception is heavily influenced by contrast, and if you don't overstimulate your mind in the morning it's much, MUCH, easier to focus on the slow process of painting throughout the day. If the most thrilling thing you've done today is brush your teeth, making art actually becomes pretty exciting.
So if you find yourself struggling with focus I'd encourage you to give this a try! No games, movies, TV, etc. before or during work hours. Keep your phone in another room where you can't hear it. Avoid constantly updating sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr like the plague. Then when you've put in your honest work for the day, go wild and have a good time. I think you'll find that you can make better art in less time, and enjoy the process much more.
Until next time, make art and f-f-focus on it!