Organization may be difficult for many artists. Artists tend to be freer personalities that don’t like to be put into a box. However, I have found that without scheduling it is very difficult to accomplish a larger goal. Without a schedule your dreams become mirages that disappear whenever you get too close.

As I said in my previous blog post, the mural planning began 5 months in advance. Where did I start? I started with researching and surfing the net, dreaming about the mural I wanted to create. If you don’t know your end result it is much more difficult to get there.

I came across images I liked, ones I didn’t and wow-images. It was these wow-images I started to collect, as I was not keen to create something mediocre. I saw what could be done with community participation and I saw what I, personally, could do with my particular resources.

Like untangling a ball of yarn, I began to write down my given details and variables. This list was the things I knew for sure…

  • mural painted on plywood for portability
  • primed & varnished for durability & weather resistance
  • incorporate community participation, therefore the design must be friendly to all different artistic abilities
  • created during Westside Culture Days
  • supplies donated by local businesses

As the list of givens grew, I had a feel for my direction. There was nothing specific at this point merely a bunch of ideas of what could be possible. I then looked at my calendar and saw the reality in the dates. Again, I looked at the end result. I knew this mural would be created as part of Westside Culture Days and I began to work backwards from there.

As an example, before any great painting begins I knew we needed to prep the plywood surface so that was added to the calendar a week before Westside Culture Days and a few days were added after the mural creation for varnishing. A call for artist volunteers would need to be scheduled 3 weeks out. While I tracked the mural project deadlines, I also tracked what typically happens in my personal life at the beginning of September such as the start of school for the kids plus their ballet auditions and hockey tryouts. This kept me on track during that already hectic time.

I backed my way through the calendar leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. I navigated by booked summer vacations, scheduled meetings and presentation dates until I looked at the current week. Each item entered into the calendar had its own set of prep work involved but the mini deadlines were clear and manageable bite-sized chunks.

The biggest thing I learned was that when you focus on the mountain of daunting work ahead or on all the things you don’t know, it can quickly freeze you in your tracks with fear. Instead, I looked at every detail that had an obvious solution and put a deadline for each one in the calendar. Before I knew it, I had followed the trail of “givens” to the completion of each task and new solutions presented themselves for questions I did not have the answers for at the beginning.

In my next blog post, I will tell you the moment that scared me the most.