Daily Archives: April 7, 2021

Timeout for Art: Focus


“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.”
~John Carmack

I came upon this quote in the book that is currently taking my morning study time: The Power of Creativity by Bryan Collins. In a bit of synchronicity that happens so regularly, it rarely surprises me anymore, I found it just when I needed to hear it.

Focus has always been difficult for me. It’s more common to find me juggling twenty wide-ranging projects, than ever concentrating on just one. The time has come though, at least temporarily, to restrict my activities. I’m about to start printing.

I’ve delayed the process as long as possible. I finished a few new plates and carefully examined all of the others, making sure they are free of flaws, sealed, and ready to go. I tested my inks, to make sure they hadn’t hardened in their tins. I ordered new printing papers so that I’d have enough identical sheets for the entire series. I examined my blotters, brushes and felts to make sure they were all in good condition. I bought a new box of Sumi watercolors, so that my colors will be fresh. Now, it’s time.

So, I have to narrow my focus. I have a small studio. It’s always difficult to have multiple projects going at once. When I’m printing, it’s almost impossible. The printing press, which at other times, felts and blankets protected by a cover, becomes one more horizontal surface to hold other materials, has to remain clear and accessible. The same for the long, low table tucked under the eaves that I use for inking the plates.

The long shelf that runs under the eaves on the other side of the room will now be home to the papers at various stages of use. There will be one large stack of dampened papers, layered between blotter papers and encased in a big plastic bag. Next to that, a large newsprint tablet is ready to protect the fresh prints papers between the pages, while they wait to be painted or printed again.

The drafting table has to give up the clutter of collage materials, adhesives, pencils and papers that usually reside there. It’s designated purpose, for the next several weeks, will be for adding color to the collagraph prints. I’ve already arranged the shelves there, to bring my paints and brushes front and center. The very limited available floor space holds a wooden tote filled with hardboard plates waiting to be printed.

I enjoy the every aspect of the printmaking process; my delaying tactics are not to avoid making prints. What i find difficult is the focus!