Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Productive Procrastination

The Promise
acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
I'll take a better picture of it tomorrow.
My battery was dying.

I've been preparing to talk about procrastination in my class.
There's a great article called I'll Do It Tomorrow, that I've
been putting off reading, in the December2008/January 2009
issue of Scientific American Mind. What hurts
us most is delaying taking action on things that help us. But I
have a theory. I think you can procrastinate positively by making
a list of everything you have to do, and then deviating wildly
from that list to something you only thought of fleetingly.
Take today as a case in point. I needed to prepare notes,
file papers, paint, and meet my friend for tea. Looking at that
list it's clear that meeting my friend for tea was right up at the top.

So I did meet my friend Susan. The sunlight in the coffee place we
sat in was stunning, making snow blowing off the building look
like magic dust, and rimming my friend in gold. We talked
and laughed, and as the sun set every person in the place was
outlined in brilliant pink. I came home, and placed the leftovers
in the microwave. Steven and I ate supper with candles just
about right at six o'clock, which never happens. And I picked
preparing my notes as top of the list, and crossed that off.
But the big thing was getting back to work on a large
painting I haven't touched since before Christmas when I put
it in a show and felt mortified because the face was all wrong.
I procrastinated some more. I vacuumed
the top floor of the house. I cleaned the bathroom mirrors.
I made a decaf coffee, and read my notes for tomorrow.

Suddenly I could hear Belinda Del Pescoe's voice, even though
we've only talked in print. She said, "go and get some
paint on something." The notes on procrastination say to try
something you're avoiding for just five minutes. I carried the
big painting down to the studio from the bedroom it had been
hiding in. And for five minutes I began. I suddenly thought of
the Susan Jeffers affirmation, "I can handle it," and I started
to enjoy transforming that terrible face on my otherwise
happy painting. Five minutes, then fifty, then a couple of
hours flew by. I'm not quite finished, but I like what's
happening. So I'll show it to you now, and again when
I've got it done.

Have a procrastinating-towards-success day.


Liza Hirst said...

Barbara, you blow my mind! I have said this before but have to mention it again: how do you DO all this? People look upon me as energetic but they haven't met you! Compared to you I am a couch potatoe. Have just caught up with your last few posts and thoroughly enjoyed every single one! I love your writing, your thoughts, your suggestions, your art - you give so much - thank you for being such a nice and inspirational person!!!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

The feeling is certainly mutual -- what are you talking about? Every day a new magnificent painting. I am so amazed!

I hope you scroll down to Feb. 2 and watch the second interview about Skype drawing. Let me know when you get Skype (video so it's free).

Thanks so much for everything you paint and say. You inspire me. You are the farthest thing from a couch potato!!!!


Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!