Habit #3: Put First Things First

Inspiration from Piet Mondrian

Inspired by Piet Mondrian's Composition With Red, Blue, and Yellow
Put First Things First Acrylics on Canvas by Noel Newquist

“I wish to approach truth as closely as possible, and therefore I abstract everything until I arrive at the fundamental qualities of objects.” – Piet Mondrian

As a founder of the Neoplasticism movement (also called De Stijl), Mondrian’s artistic focus was on the most basic elements. He rejected the notion of subjects in his artwork and created truly abstract forms with nothing but horizontal and vertical lines, and the primary colors.

While I don’t personally go to this extreme in my artwork, I do have a tendency to heavily simplify the subjects within my artwork, whether abstract or not. But sometimes the “most important” parts of an artwork are not the ones that need to be put first.

Knowing where to start in your artwork can often be difficult. I recently had a discussion with two sixth grade students, in which  I told one he should work from the foreground to the back, and I told the girl beside him that she should work background to front. Why? Different mediums work in different ways. With mediums that can be overlayed on top of themselves (like some types of paints), it is much easier to work from the back to the front. However, most drawing mediums lend themselves better to approaching the foreground first, so that you don’t have to erase anything when overlapping other objects into the background. In the end, though, I find that knowing when to stop is every bit as important as where you begin.

We’ve all seen the experiment where you have to fit a bunch of rocks, pebbles, and sand into a bucket. On the personal level, Habit 3 is all about determining what your “big rocks” are, and putting those in your bucket first. Putting this into perspective, I have been learning to say “no” a lot this year. I have found a few time-consumers in my life that I wouldn’t qualify as rocks, pebbles, or even sand – more like garbage that others have thrown into that proverbial bucket that makes all the nice rocks look and smell terrible! Thankfully, cleaning out the trash has freed me up to make several new starts in areas that truly matter to me both personally and professionally.

What are your First Things? What little things do you spend too much time on? Are there any large responsibilities that you have taken on which don’t move you closer to any of your goals? Take a look at all of the roles you play, and ask how each of them works into the Ends in Mind that you came up with in Habit 2.

Check out the Newquii Shop for original artwork and prints, including the painting above.