Unhealthy Withdrawal, or Intensive Focus?



With Art Prof Teaching Artists Deepti Menon and Alex Rowe

Final critiques are done, grades are submitted, my faculty shelf in the office is empty.  Everything is wrapped up and done for this academic year at RISD! This period between the end of the spring semester and RISD Pre-College is always an awkward time for me, and I never know quite what to make of it.

I’m in a place where I have to start anticipating summer session, but it’s also some much needed down time to focus on Artprof.org. My summer schedule is hectic to say the least, and I know that my life pretty much shuts down during summer session. These weeks before summer begins feel really precious to me in terms of getting uninterrupted time to focus on my work.

I teach 5 days a week for RISD Pre-College, which is much more intense than my schedule during the academic year. (this includes a daily 1 hour commute) I can pull it off though, because the program is only 6 weeks long, so it’s a crazy burst of adrenaline, but it’s short and goes by quickly.

I finally dug myself out of my video editing funk, have been very productive over the past few weeks.  Shoots for the coming months have been planned, I’ve got 2 tutorials that I’ve made significant progress on, and I even had the time to dig into some really old video content that has been sitting around for much too long.

Several years ago, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the editing process of our pro development Q&Art videos.  I thought about those videos as being a really long, arduous task, which is probably the reason why I never got around to finishing all of them back then.

So it was surprising that when I came back to edit these videos in recent weeks that not only did I polish them off really quickly, but it felt effortless. A huge reason is because our library of Broll, pop-up images, banners, etc. is about 10x what it used to be.  I loooove it when I get to reap the rewards of content I’ve worked so hard to slowly accumulate over the past few years. I also think I’m now much more ruthless about cutting footage than I used to be. These pro development videos used to be about 7-8 minutes long, and the ones I cut recently are more like 3 or 4 minutes long.


I love it when a tutorial shoot gives me an excuse to go plant shopping.

Now that I’m not on campus one or two times every week, I’ve been working at home on all of these editing projects and shoots. Although teaching takes time away from my personal projects, I do love teaching, and I enjoy getting out of the house and interacting with other creative people.

With those interactions gone for a little while, I can’t figure out whether I’m withdrawing into a period of intensive focus, or if I’m removing myself from the more social aspects of my life in an unhealthy way.

I never quite know what to do with myself in terms of striking a balance of working intensively and not isolating myself the world during this time period before the summer kicks into high gear. Still haven’t found a way out of this, so maybe the solution is to stop thinking about it, and bury myself in my work. Distraction has it’s positive aspects!


From our upcoming Imagined Environment tutorial with Cat Huang and Julie Benbassat. 

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