Chris Sutcliff

Artist Man I am
16th Dec 2009


Since I wrote “Metamorphosis of an Idea” I have been forced to take those words and put them in a sandwich and eat the bastards. Every last spikey one of them. Humble pie was for pudding and then I washed it all down with a nice hot mug of shut the fuck up. In a restaurant known as “Keep your half-baked ideas to yourself”, where funnily enough I was the only diner.

In said blog, I had bleated on for paragraph after paragraph saying that making plans and setting goals was for idiots and, rather crushingly in retrospect, for people who actually wanted to be successful. Yeah. Way to go, Einstein. For some reason I then balanced this woefully inept platitude with a rather sketchy explanation that getting lost and admiring your surroundings was better than getting to where you wanted to be. Honestly, I must’ve been wearing my moron pants. Actually, part of what I said is sort of true only I have now arrived at the more concrete understanding that admiring your surroundings is what days off are for. Ahh, how naive I was back in August.

The truth is that making goals is really hard and sticking to them is impossible when you’re as lazy and easily distracted as I am. I go to extraordinary lengths sometimes just to not get on with stuff I should be doing. For example I am writing this and the cat hasn’t been fed for six days.

Also don’t think for one minute that I was smart enough to work any of this out for myself. Oh no! Help came and found me. Through an acquaintance I met a Life Coach some months back and we had a chat for a few hours which kind of polarised me back into what I needed to do to get any sort of success at all from my artwork. It was also oddly psycho-analytical; I genuinely sat on a couch and talked about my parents. I highly recommend seeing someone like this if you have the means to. If you’re local to me then get in touch with Tina Mayfield at She is lovely and makes excellent coffee while she effortlessly puts your life in order.

The next enlightening slap around the chops I got was from a Manager at my work. In a chummy sort of way he shouted at me for two hours for not taking the initiative this year and following my plan to be a real life artist. By the time he’d finished I was belittled to the level of staring at my shoes like a five year old but a bit more determined that next year would be better. Sometimes gentle persuasion is a poor substitute for a well directed kick to the spuds.

Anyway, onwards to the point. From all this I have taken two lessons that have helped me and so I am passing them on to you.

1) Write your goals down. They need to be achievable but stretching and they must have a timescale. Every time you pontificate jam your finger in your eye really hard and then shut up and get on with it and stop wasting everyone’s time. You have to keep checking on them as well, like a needy goldfish. They don’t go away. Look at them, then look at them again, then leave your wife and sleep with them.

2) I have also set up a spreadsheet to monitor how much time I am spending doing my artwork per day, week, month and then year. I know that spreadsheets are something that only wankers do but this has seriously helped me. In November I only did eleven and a quarter hours of painting. Shocking and abysmal. No wonder every piece seems to take about four years – it’s because they actually do. This genuinely annoyed me and so here we are halfway through December and I’ve already done more hours than that. Great tool. You can adapt it to measure how much money you are making as well. I left this bit out because I hate crying.

I have a wager with my Manager about getting a certain amount of canvasses in galleries or shops or cafés by next November. Although the target is probably unrealistic it has had the desired effect of getting me back painting, albeit in an angry ‘I’ll show him’ sort of way. I’m not suggesting that as a third lesson you take up a nice healthy gambling addiction but, you know, get your mates behind you for support. Then win the bet and bleed them dry.

So I got my approach a bit wrong for a while but hopefully this makes amends. It’s all part of stumbling blindly and painfully through this arduous string of nonsensical tasks called life. Looking forward to my next astronomical miscalculation, it’s the only way I seem to learn.

Oh, and I don’t really own any moron pants. I had to steal yours.

by Chris
Posted in Words

2 Responses to

  1. Tif says:

    I recall reading such post and will happily admit that i’d be dining with you in “Keep your half-baked ideas to yourself”. I’m the same where opting for the lazy route mostly wins, even if that route is ironically longer and much harder work.

    I was getting pissed off at being pissed off with myself for being lazy and not doing stuff more constructive. But i can’t get too pissed off, after all, most of the funniest/happiest times of my life so far have been from spontaneous outings where i’ve ditched something i ‘should’ be doing. Not so long back i decided the best bet would be a split. 50/50. But how can you split your life into unorganised/lazy/spontaneous and organised/active/focused? I have no idea, but planning your time a bit better sounds like a good start to me, so i’m going to nick your idea and give it a shot.

    On a final note, my work do regular galleries showcasing art. Changing every 1-2 months. Unless there’s anywhere specific your wanting for your showcases, i can find out what kind of date we’d be looking at to get you on?

    Let us know if your interested and we shall talk.

  2. Disgruntled says:

    So it’s not ok to be lazy? Bastard. I hang on your every word dammit! Seriously though, good on you bud. It’s similar to something Jerry Seinfeld said about productivity (I’m not a fan, just read it somehwere) – basically you get a year planner and every day that you do some art of any description (it was writing in his case) you put a mark on the planner. The plan is not to break the chain so you have a whole year with a bit of art done everyday and then you will achieve awesomosity. I guess you could have one colour for drawing and another for writing.

    If I give you £20 will you draw a year planner for 2010 and get it printed? I’ll sort the shop bit of the site for you then 🙂

    When I was growing up (was?) we used to have a poster print of a hand drawn one every year, A1 size. It’s nice to be able to look back at them.

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