Comic book great John Byrne had some advice for me when I asked him how to achieve success as an artist:
"Treat it like a job. Start at the same time, break for lunch at the same time, end at the same time. And remember, time working is time working, not time listening to DVDs, or watching TV, or any other timewasters/distractions.
And then he added this little rhyme:
Busy doing nothing,
Nothing the whole day thru.
Trying to find
Lots of things not to do.
Busy going nowhere,
Isn't it just a crime?
I'd like to be
I never do have the time.
There really are a million excuses not to work. I like to think of myself as a craftsman rather than an "artiste". My father was a carpenter and my grandfather a shoe maker. Working in this tradition is much easier than waiting for my muse to show up. I have to get out of bed, drink some coffee and get to work.
Somewhere around the time of Leonardo and Michelangelo, artists went from being craftsman to being divine. Of course the ultimate conclusion to this way of thinking has lead to anyone who decides to call themselves an artist is an artist. And look what we we end up with: conceptual art and websites full of bad painting. I have a student who is a brain surgeon and wants to be a painter when he retires. It is a strange coincidence because when I retire from painting I was thinking about taking up brain surgery.