May 11, 2014

Honing the Saw and Taking Flight

Cardinal Impressions, Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10", Tracy Feldman

Good Mothers Day, all.  I'm not a mom, so since this day celebrates others, I thought I should at least do some painting, or painting-support activities today to keep my art momentum going.  I started out by working on another painting in my Longwood Gardens in Spring series, but then realized that it is not practical for me to paint seven days a week, so I decided to suspend the work on the Longwood-inspired painting until tomorrow.

5 little canvases waiting for some paint
Instead, I decided to spend some time today doing some of the work that Steven Covey would refer to as "honing" activity that will make it easier to work when I return to painting my "Longwood" series on Monday.   Covey is the personal effectiveness guru who wrote, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

"Honing the saw" was one of those seven habits that people often mistake for being a waste of time because they aren't officially doing what they consider their "real work".  As I remember it, these activities are things that might on the surface seem less worthy of spending time on because they don't actually have measurable work outcomes.  But because these activities help you  be more effective when you do sit down to do what you consider "real work", they actually are very important in helping you be as effective as possible at work, as well as in life.  These activities hone  (sharpen) your overall effectiveness in the same way as sharpening (aka honing) a saw makes the saw more effective when you actually get down to cutting wood.  Some of these activities keep your mind sharp, others center you, and others just set the groundwork to make future work possible.

The "honing" activity I chose was to paint the sides of the canvases I'll be using this week: mindless work, but I'm pretty sure that seeing the crisp little black edges will make doing the work seem just that little bit easier.

Why am I also displaying a new little painting of a crazy looking cardinal?  Because as I was painting those sides, my eyes strayed across the photo that Arny took recently of this little bird. We couldn't figure out whether the bird was an unusual female cardinal, or a young male on his way to getting his fully adult coloration and form.  Either way, I love the bird's wild-looking eyebrow.  It made it seem kind of like a punk rocker.  And as I looked at the crazy eyebrow, I got an irresistible urger to paint the bird.  Hope you enjoy it. I'd love to know what you think.
  • Cardinal Impressions was up for auction on the Daily Paintworks site.  It sold, so it's no longer available.

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