Slow Down: You Move Too Fast – Hurrying & Multitasking Are Not Conducive to Making Art

Life in the 21st-Century has become a hurried and frantic affair. The USA has become a paper-plate-society, and this is the era of the multitasker. Yet, multitasking and hurrying can have devastating effects on people who would like to write or to paint, and when I hurry, my entire being becomes an anxious knot.This morning, the sun is shining and I hear birds singing outside my window. I awoke with the Simon & Garfunkel Song Feelin’ Groovy in my head, and I’m telling myself yet again: “Slow down, you move too fast…..”

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

Hello, lamppost, what’cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t’cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in doo-doo, feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

I got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy


“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

In other posts, I have described myself as an off-and-on person. I know that at times, I zoom full speed into things and at other times, I do very little at all. When I was young, I only had one speed: Hurry! But when I was 20-years-old, a drunken driver changed the course of my life. After weeks in a hospital bed and months [years] in recovery from a terrible car accident, something inside me shifted and I heard a whisper: “Slow down. Take Time to Smell the Roses.”

Old Blush Pink Rose – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Since my car wreck, I find myself more of a meanderer than a flash, and I can definitely say that meandering is a much less stressful lifestyle than hurrying and multitasking. When I multitask, I am distracted, and I can neither write nor paint anything that is in any way meaningful. When I paint, I turn off my cell phone, my television, and my computer. Very simply, before I begin to create, I remove any of the escape routes that might present themselves as avenues of technological multitasking, and I strive to meet my subject matter face-to-face–without any distractions. After that, I begin to unwrap my piece, layer by layer.


Creating for me is a process of digging deeply into the marrow of my subject. It requires that I move beyond the superficial in my response.  If I can do that effectively, my intuition begins to speak and to direct me, and the rest of my task is simple. Michelangelo alluded to this artist’s intuition in saying that his sculptures [his art] lay within the stone and that he merely followed the path that he sensed within the rock and set the image free. I believe that Michelangelo was talking about the process of allowing his intuition to speak to him and to coach him as he created.

“I don’t know! I don’t know why I did it, I don’t know why I enjoyed it, and I don’t know why I’ll do it again!” –    Bart Simpson

Often, we don’t know why we do what we do in making art.  In creating art, something that leads the eyes and urges the hand to move speaks to the artist. The same is true in writing. Each person has a unique voice that is coaching him, and as the artist or writer listens to his own coach–his own set of directives–he begins a journey along a set of stepping stones that become a work of art. Collectively speaking, the products that evolve from this process ultimately become an artist’s style. In writing, this becomes the writer’s voice. Again, however, I am firmly convinced that it is impossible to access the intuition when we hurry and multitask. arnicalupinejune2220128x10facebook-image12

Wild Arnica and Lupines – Jacki Kellum Watercolor Painting
Painted on location in Alaska

The confusing thing about my art, however, is that I actually paint very quickly, and I write very quickly, too. I might begin the process slowly, deliberately, and cautiously, but I complete the process expressionistically, in a creative burst.

Knowing why one does this or that while creating is not important. Making art is an intuitive response.  An essential key in learning to paint is learning to hear the voice of your inner artist and allowing that voice to lead the way.”  – Jacki Kellum

Forest Daffodil: The Prayer – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

In my opinion, the process of entering into our intuitions is like meditating. As we calm down and begin to hear our intuitions speak, we enter a meditative-like zone.  It is within this zone that the Ecstasy of being creative prevails.


Sunflower Too
Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Riding one’s intuition is like sky-diving. Your inner airplane takes you to one of the highest places within yourself and then, you jump:

Flipping and floating, you begin to cascade downward, but ultimately, you hit the ground. BAM! The intuition ride is over. The high is gone, and the idea is no longer fresh and exciting; yet, the work is often incomplete. In writing, you have reached the time for editing and re-writing. For artists, this is the time for reworking over and over again–or for tossing the piece entirely. The editing stage of creating is where the Agony part of producing art sets in.


I am blessed with an inordinate amount of creativity, and much of what people see of me is produced while jumping from one of my flights of fantasy to another. On the flip side, I am terrible at seeing things through. When the magic of a project is gone, I am done, too. I am off, seeking another place to soar. I begin seeking another fresh idea to explore; I begin looking for another creative high.


The bad but essential news is that in order to succeed in art or anything else, we must force ourselves to finish our projects. In farm country, the expression is “Plow to the End of the Row.” In other words, finish what you start.


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