Look, I get what you're thinking - how is it possible that an artist is working when staring out the window or sitting in a cafe watching the world go by? There's no way to put this on paper. The fact of the matter is that it's true, and not only that but in fact the artist is probably working longer hours than you are when sitting at your desk. The artist can't shut off. From the moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes at night I am thinking about art, even when I'm teaching English to my business students. Even when doing that very logical activity I am thinking about my paintings, my projects, my ideas, my past, my present, and my future. Artists believe that there's art in everything, and that's what I see when go through my day. This is every day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. It never shuts off, and I like that. In fact I love it. It defines me.
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How does the artist work then? He or she must think, a lot, before putting these thoughts into action. The corporate worker is given tasks to do and is often measured on how many of these tasks are ticked off the list, so to speak, within a given amount of time. Corporate projects vary in length, but it really is possible to show progress in relatively short periods of time (days, weeks, quarters, for example). Most corporate workers should be able to file a progress report at the end of any given day. An artist can do the same thing, but instead of showing Excel spreadsheets or pdf documents the artist can list "thoughts" as accomplishments. The difference between the corporate worker is that the corporate worker has physical work to show on a regular basis, whereas the artist shows physical work in bulks of time - or bursts of productivity that can start after weeks of nothing but thoughts and can end as quickly as they begin. For example, I will go weeks without having a decent painting to show as proof of my labors, but then I can produce six or seven paintings in a four-week span. What happens? Four weeks or thinking immediately explodes into four weeks of paintings.