Glenn Howarth watched me work for a while, and then calmly moved my palette table from my left side to my right. All he said was, “Time-motion studies”. He understood that reaching across my body each time I wanted to reload paint was going to frustrate me. I hadn’t even noticed I was doing it.
Unconscious habits like these can persist long after our student days. it’s worth examining everything that goes on in your studio, including how you set up your space and what your working process consists of. Minor impediments, like not being able to find something quickly, can alter the cadence of your work or even cause you to turn away from your easel.
Is there enough room on your table or easel to keep brushes from landing in your paints? Can you hold a few brushes in your opposite hand as you work, or use a brush holder? Do you periodically wash your hands or gloves to keep unwanted paint from muddying your canvas?
If you work sitting down, can you easily push your chair back to survey your progress? Is the chair easy on your back and legs? Are you tripping over other canvases while you work?
Workflow issues like these can crop up when you move to a new space or reconfigure your studio, or change the scale of your canvases. Suddenly your space may be so tight that you can’t step back from your work. That could lead to cramped tool handling or having to shift a bunch of things around each time you’re ready to paint.
When you’re away from your studio, visualize yourself working in your ideal space, able to move around and change tools and access supplies without even having to think about it. Decide what your environment must contain and what ytou won’t put up with. Then introduce at least one thing at a time to improve your experience of working in that space.
If you work on several pieces at once, and especially if your room is small, consider installing a wall easel that could hold one larger painting in progress, or store a number of smaller pieces while you work at your easel. Here’s a link to how to assemble and mount an inexpensive wall easel: https://www.heathermroberts.com/blog/diy-wall-easel.
Take the time to study how you work and move in your space, and identify the things you need to change. Then you can more easily slip into creative flow, confident that your process and your environment won’t get in your way.