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Surviving a Marathon Art Session

I know the gut-wrenching feeling. That deadline that was just a few months away is now next week, in a few days or even tomorrow. Slowly panic starts to work up inside you, and your measuring your time in your head. So maybe you’ve now got a few days, a day or even a few hours to pull it all together. Whether things came, up or you’re simply a victim of your own procrastination, here are my tips for surviving and completing a marathon work session.

Take a Deep Breath

Does hysteria have your mind running a mile a minute? Take 5 and work on calming down. Once calm you'll be able to accurately assess your situation instead of hastily making incomplete decisions that could turn into disasters later.

Create a Plan

Jot down a quick outline of what needs to be done. Maybe you’ve got a line drawing down, and you need to put in a few good layers of paint or pencil for it to fall together. Maybe you haven’t even gotten that far yet, and you’ve still got to stretch a canvas. Whatever step your starting at, jot the order of things that have to get done in order for you to proceed.


Look through your list, is there anything that can be negotiated? Maybe your friend just stretched 5 canvases and you can buy one off of them? Or your sketch/plan is just a little too ambitious for the time you have remaining. Sometimes it just a matter of rearranging things. Whatever it is, just be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish.

Block it Out

Try not to focus on getting too detailed. Instead, work on knocking out large chunks of area. You’ll cover ground more, and its motivating to see an overall form/shape take place. One thing I took away from college was my professor shouting over my shoulder “areas not objects!” By working on becoming progressively detailed you reduce the risk of having your work look partially finished. This way, if you run out of time or are forced to stop, you have something that at least looks cohesive.

Step Back Often

It’s important to see the “big picture,” especially in these types of situations. Step back often! Stepping back often allows you to catch and correct missteps before they become time consuming mistakes.

Break through Monotony

Sometimes all you can do is work, work, work. Try to keep yourself engaged so that you are truly giving your work your best attention. Take a brief break every hour. Listen to a podcast or audio books to make the time go by faster and to keep yourself engaged. Those are my tips for a marathon work session! If you any tips or thoughts please share them in a comment below.

Thanks for reading and Happy Art-making!

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