How is Your Focus?

I did exactly what I said I was going to do yesterday. I planned my art time, my break time, remove all distractions and focused on drawing.

One of the biggest improvements you can bring to your art is the ability to focus your brain on what you want, when you want and for how long you want. Art making is complex, it takes all your brain power to do it at the best of your ability.

So, How is your focus?

When you draw or paint do you have to have movies or podcasts playing in the background? Do you setup your easel in a place where you’re bound to be interrupted? Are you able to focus on one thing for a significant amount of time?

These are all good questions to ask yourself. Plus I have some ideas of how to get better in each.

Music for Focus

I listen to music when I work. I have a huge playlist of songs that I know that I will like and will not pull me out of my concentration. I don’t think it matters what type of music helps you focus or even if it has vocals or not. What does matter is how if your attention is split by the device your listening to your music on.

If you feel the need to look down at your phone and flip through songs, you’ve lost your focus. Also if you haven’t put your phone in “do not disturb” or “airplane” mode you’re more likely to get interrupted. It’s super important to know all your devices well enough to turn of anything that could interrupt you. Let the music flow, but stop all the contacts and notifications cold.

A Focused Environment

Where do you setup your easel? I personally have a room where I can close the door and me and my wife have an understanding that when the door is closed that I’m not to be disturbed. This also keeps the cats out, they like to keep all my attention on them.

But there is so much more to your environment that can distract you from deep focus on your art. Here is a list of ideas to help.

  • Setup your light so that you have the least amount of glare on your drawing or painting.
  • Sit or stand based on your comfort level. Pain in your feet or back will kill your focus.
  • Plan ahead and have all your materials you will need within easy reach.
  • Make sure your materials are in great working order. Pencil’s sharpened, paints out, brushes cleaned, etc…
  • Have a method for where you place your materials around you. Nothing kills my focus more than having to look for my eraser or the right pencil when I need it. I always try to put things down in the same place.
  • Is your area free of clutter? Some people can work in a cluttered environment, looking at you Francis Bacon, but I need a neat area for creativity to flow.

Are You Comfortable with Boredom?

This is one that many people turn their nose up at. Many artists want art making to be a constantly energizing, a lot of the time it is. But most of the time the work becomes monotonous and your doing the same thing for a long period of time. Basically it’s boring, but it needs to get done.

Training your focus, is like training your boredom. The best way I’ve found to train my focus and get comfortable with boredom or lack of sensory feedback is through meditation. Like anything you start small and work you way up. Start by meditating for a few minutes each day and add a minute every few days.

The same can be done for training focus on art. If you find that you can only draw for 10 minutes straight without getting board, awesome! Try adding a minute every few days. Before you know it you can work on something for 90 minutes without a break.

Word of warning here though I wouldn’t work longer than 90 minutes without a break. Working for hours on end leads to burnout and injury. I try to work for about 90 minutes max then take at least a 20 minute break. This is along with getting up and stretching every 20 minutes while working. “Sitting kills, Moving heals”.

The Tenth Doctor David Tennant drawing

Previous Dr Who Drawing Posts

Warm-up

The normal 15 minute warm-up in graphite.

warm-up

One Minute Gestures

I was able to get and exercise done in The Natural Way to Draw book today!

What went well, what was awesome! Celebrate It!

I put in 90 minutes of drawing on Dr Who while keeping deep focus. Plus I got some Nicolaides work done.

What needs work? What did you learn?

I’m still recovering from my surgery so I need to maybe take it a bit easier still.

How am I going to Optimize moving forward?

Tomorrow I will try 90 minutes on drawing for Dr Who again but if I’m feeling drained I’ll cut out the Nicolaides exercise.

2 Comments

  1. Oh, I think you hit it on the head here for me. I struggle with focus. I can get lost in a project once I am committed, but usually, I have looming deadlines and am rushing. I’m working on getting my focus WHEN I want it, not when I NEED it. Even if I’m not doing visual art, this is great advice to apply to my craft.

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