Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book Review: Creative Time and Space, Making Room for Making Art by Rice Freeman-Zachery

I was reading an interview on Empty Easel with Rice Freeman-Zachery and it prompted me to buy her book: Creative Time and Space. Visually, the book does a fabulous job of showcasing the featured artists’ work. As for the content, I found myself wanting more.

The author, Rice Freeman-Zachery, weaves her own thoughts amid the mish-mash of anecdotal references by the featured artists on the various chapter topics:
  1. Exploring Time
  2. Making Time
  3. Corralling Time
  4. Stuck in Time
  5. Jumpstarting Time
  6. Mental Space
  7. Soul Space
  8. Real Space
  9. Creative Habits
  10. Taking It on the Road
The book is for those who are struggling with “making room for making art.” Rice includes little exercises in the form of “Try This” boxes to help you explore your own ideas about why you are where you are artistically and how to jump-start your passion for your art to get your back on track.

There is so much about this book that I wanted to like but much of it I had heard before. Surely, there is quite a bit here that is grounded in practicality, which just goes to show you why the reviews on Amazon were all positive. The author’s style is very warm and engaging. You cannot help but feel her passion and desire to motivate you.

However, what disappointed me was the fact that the Empty Easel interview, 10+ Ways to Make Time for Your Art, more clearly addressed what I needed to hear than the 171-page book. I expect an article that references a book to whet my appetite for the full-course meal that the book will provide me when I read it.

My Top 10 From Creative Time and Space

  1. Take a notebook/sketchbook with you everywhere. As Freeman-Zachery puts it so well, “Writing down ideas reinforces the value of creative thinking and encourages your brain to spend more time in creative mode.”
  2. Set studio boundaries so my creative time is seen as important to me (and others)
  3. Cut down on Web surfing and devote my time to painting
  4. Stop (or severely cut back on) watching TV since it easily and needlessly sucks up my evenings
  5. Consider implementing a schedule for myself (some of the featured artists’ schedules encouraged me, others were overwhelming)
  6. Write out my goals (both short-term and long-term)
  7. Make a studio-efficiency list as I work that could make my next studio experience more enjoyable
  8. Make a list of things that inspire me and when a rut hits, revisit it
  9. Make a list of what attracts me and/or scares me about my art; then take steps to work through that list
  10. Use my head-space as well as my studio space to infuse both thoughtful and spontaneous creativity throughout as much of my day as possible
You’ll notice in my list, time management plays a key role (see #2-7 above). In fact, that is really the crux of the matter and so the first half of the book is devoted to giving the reader strategies.

Rice (and a few of her featured artists) strongly recommends journaling. I have not made time for this and haven’t felt it to be a detriment. Who knows, you may find it essential. There were other pieces of advice throughout the book but I just didn’t find them compelling. They seemed more fluffy than substantial. Of course, we are all individuals and such little bits of esoterica may inspire you towards productivity.

The chapter on your studio—Real Space—was probably one of my favorites because I loved hearing about the variety of places these professionals did their work. I found it very encouraging since I just cleaned out a small space in our bedroom to work. (I’ll try to post on how that is working out for me in the near future.)

Well, that’s my take on Rice Freeman-Zachery’s Creative Time and Space. I can’t say I would definitely purchase this book again BUT I would have taken it out of the library and documented what I found that was practical.  (3 1/2 Stars out of 5)