Eliminating the Variable of Time

Clock with hands drawn in with a pen

Instead of letting a painting take however long it takes, what happens if you eliminate the variable of time? Instead of when a painting might be finish being open-ended, time becomes a known entity.

It’s the norm when figure painting or drawing for the model to have 10 or 15 minutes break every 30 or 45 minutes. It makes you take a break too, gives you time to assess what you’ve been doing and consider what you might do next knowing that at a predetermined point your opportunity with that model will end.

It’s also happens when the in-house art critic comes into the studio and says it’s 15 minutes till supper.

For me, knowing there’s a time limit becomes a motivation to become more decisive, to stop second guessing and considering multiple possibilities, to pick something to do and see where it leads. And literally to paint faster to get more done in the time. It’s those one-minute get-the-whole-figure-down warmup drawings from life-drawing class extended to a longer timeframe.

Set a timer and see if it increases your concentration. If it increases your stress more than it helps focus you, don’t give up until you’ve tried a few times. Like so many things, practice helps.


The clock in the photo I saw at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, a reminder that time is a construct. I wrote this blog on the day clocks went back an hour; yesterday sunset was at six and today it will be at five. (Why not move it by half an hour and leave it be?) Another reminder that time is a theoretical entity.

2 Replies to “Eliminating the Variable of Time”

  1. Marion, today’s post really hit the nail on the head for me. Thanks.

    (well actually all your thoughts are helpful!)

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