Category Archives: Life

Why I Sleep Better

Opa

My grandfather once told me that the hours of sleep before midnight were better than those afterwards, so he recommended that I get to bed at a reasonable hour.  In order to wake up early in the morning to draw, I try to get to bed before 10:00 P.M.  I always thought my grandfather’s suggestion was just some folksy aphorism, but when I go to bed early, I sleep better – go figure.  Thanks for the advice, Opa.

P.S.  My grandfather’s favorite expression was, “Courtesy costs nothing, gains much.”  He was a wise man, and I miss him.

Why I Sketch For 30 Minutes Every Morning

CJ

“We have failed to recognize our great asset: time.  A conscientious use of it could make us into something quite amazing.” – Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805)

In high school, my art teacher advised his students to sketch every day.  Even if it was just for a few minutes, he said that daily practice would result in dramatic improvements in our work.  It seemed like sound advice, but I could never last more than a few days before I got side tracked by some other activity.

In the last two years, I have been better about finding time to draw, but until recently, I have struggled with doing it every day.  But the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, which I read based on Tim Ferriss’s recommendation, convinced me that not only could I manage my time better, but also that in doing so, I could draw and paint more often.

Mom

In Daily Rituals, Mason Currey writes about the habits of 161 creative people (writers, painters, scientists, composers, etc.), “to show how grand creative visions translate to small daily increments; how one’s working habits influence the work, and vice versa.”  Currey just describes the respective rituals, and does not suggest which ones might be better than others – although, I would not advise adopting Jean Paul Sarte’s daily habit of chewing twenty pills of Corydrane (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin that was “legal in France until 1971, when it was declared toxic and taken off the market”) to increase your writing productivity.

Although some favored creating whenever they felt the desire, many stuck to specific schedules, and would work at their craft at the same time every day.  Some had other jobs or obligations, so they would have to create either early in the morning, or late in the evening.  For example, in order to earn extra money to support her six children and sick husband, Frances Trollope, mother of novelist Anthony Trollope, “sat down at her desk each day at 4:00 A.M. and completed her writing in time to serve breakfast.”  Since my evenings are not always predictable, I decided I would try to draw early in the morning.  Since the beginning of June, with few exceptions, I have woken up at approximately 5:15 A.M. and sketched for 30 minutes.

CB

My morning ritual looks like this.  After I wake up, I go to the kitchen and make coffee.  I could make it the night before, and set the timer to brew so it’s ready for when I wake up, but I like the process of making coffee in the morning.  Doing so also allows me to start my day by completing a simple task.

Then I make a smoothie, or bacon and eggs, and once I finish breakfast, I draw for at least 30 minutes.  After which, I pack up my materials, have a shower, change for work, and then join my family for 20 minutes or so before I leave to take the train to San Francisco.

Me

If you want to increase your creative output or productivity, I highly recommend reading Daily Rituals for inspiration.  And wherever you are Mr. S____y, thank you for your advice.  I wish I had followed it 20 years ago.

P.S.   “Be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert

Mentors


photo-6

I recently read a blog post by Seth Godin about mentorship.  He wrote, “the primary driver of mentor benefit has nothing to do with the mentor herself, nothing beyond the feeling of obligation the student feels to the teacher.  Whether or not the mentor does anything, this obligation delivers benefits.
“We can simulate this by living up to our heroes and those living by example, even if we never meet them, even if they’ve passed away, leaving us nothing but a legacy to honor and live up to.”

hand sketching

My drawing and painting skills have improved because I was lucky enough to find mentors.  Some gave me advice, and others were (and are) just an inspiration.  Most notably, I owe my art instructor, Patsy Taylor, a debt of gratitude for all of her guidance.

Peony

I even received encouragement and specific recommendations from some artists whose work I admire the most.  I learned a tremendous amount by studying their art, and I am humbled that they took the time to point me in the right direction.

Weeping Buddha

I am grateful for my mentors, but as Seth Godin notes, mentorship “works because the person with a mentor has a responsibility to stand up and actually get moving.  The only way to repay your mentor is by showing the guts it takes to grow and to matter.”

In this post are a painting and a few sketches that I recently completed with my mentors in mind.

P.S.  Have a Happy New Year, and all the best to you in 2014.

A Time For Thanks

C & B_babies

I am thankful for these little guys, and for the bigger versions they are now.  Of course, I’m also thankful for the little brother, who after seeing that he was not included in this drawing, told me that I have to draw him next.  It’s a good thing I am still on a portrait kick.

P.S. And thanks to you for visiting The Hipping Post.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Discovering at the Discovery Museum

Discovery MuseumA day out with my youngest at the Bay Area Discovery Museum.

What Happens When You Leave Wall Street?

G

You pack up your Upper West Side apartment.  You drive across the country.  You put all of your earthly belongings in storage.  You and your family take a year to travel around the world.  And you grow a beard.

Safe travels brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece.  Enjoy, and we’ll see you when you return.

P.S.  And you forget to call your nephews on their birthday.

It’s Time To Smell (and Draw) the Roses

Yellow rose

“What a lovely thing a rose is!…Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In the past few weeks, the roses in our backyard have blossomed.  Normally, at this time of year, I am too annoyed with allergies to notice flowers.  But this year, I was taken with watching our roses grow from little green bulbs to full colorful flowers.  I could try to explain why I wanted to draw them, but the quotes I included in this post do a much better job.

Roses

“There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.”
– Henri Matisse

pink rose

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”
– Dale Carnegie