paul klee, embrace (click on the image for an enlargement)
so what does an artist do, when (s)he's working?
it's not so easy to describe, and very different for different artists too, i suppose.
for me, it consists of many different activities. mostly, there are multiple works waiting for further improvement. any of these works might call for my attention, and i start working on colour, image, composition,...
or i might start a new work, depending on some inner inspiration/drive which is hard to pin down. or i might decide to practice some technique or detail. or i might decide to experiment with some technique or detail. or i might decide to sit and think about what direction to take in the works to come.
i try to force myself to take breaks...but in my studio this can be a problem because everywhere there are questions waiting to be addressed.
one artist who i imagine worked like this also, judging by his diverse oeuvre, is paul klee. since he is one of my alltime favourite artists, i'm not inclined to change my way of working very radically.
Klee has been variously associated with Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Abstraction, but his pictures are difficult to classify. He generally worked in isolation from his peers, and interpreted new art trends in his own way. He was inventive in his methods and technique. Klee worked in many different media—oil paint, watercolor, ink, pastel, etching, and others. He often combined them into one work. He used canvas, burlap, muslin, linen, gauze, cardboard, metal foils, fabric, wallpaper, and newsprint. Klee employed spray paint, knife application, stamping, glazing, and impasto, and mixed media such as oil with watercolor, water color with pen and India ink, and oil with tempera.
He was a natural draftsman, and through long experimentation developed a mastery of color and tonality. Many of his works combine these skills. He uses a great variety of color palettes from nearly monochromatic to highly polychromatic. His works often have a fragile child-like quality to them and are usually on a small scale. He often used geometric forms as well as letters, numbers, and arrows, and combined them with figures of animals and people. Some works were completely abstract. Many of his works and their titles reflect his dry humor and varying moods; some express political convictions. They frequently allude to poetry, music and dreams and sometimes include words or musical notation. The later works are distinguished by spidery hieroglyph-like symbols. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about Klee in 1921, "Even if you hadn’t told me he plays the violin, I would have guessed that on many occasions his drawings were transcriptions of music."
Pamela Kort observed: "Klee's 1933 drawings present their beholder with an unparalleled opportunity to glimpse a central aspect of his aesthetics that has remained largely unappreciated: his lifelong concern with the possibilities of parody and wit. Herein lies their real significance, particularly for an audience unaware that Klee's art has political dimensions."
there are some striking similarities with my own approach to art...so there is hope yet ;-)