Armand Cabrera

We’ve talked about practice and tenacity as essential parts of becoming a successful artist. The cornerstone of all good habits though is focus. Focus is the engine that drives all accomplishment. I’ve never met anyone who has succeeded without it. You may not have money or a helper or even talent but if you have focus there is no stopping you.


Focus allows people to take all their energies, resources and time and commit them to a single goal. This is not easy in my experience. People don’t like it when someone is committed to a goal. People will want to distract you and vie for your attention; don’t allow it.

Research studies show that people who multi-task get less done and the quality of their work suffers when compared to people who focus on completing one task at a time and finishing it before moving on to something else.

Tasks like painting, music and mathematics require long periods of focus to achieve successful results. If you want to improve your painting the best way to do so is to cut out distractions and work for as long as you can in an uninterrupted block of time. You don’t have the time you say? That is a matter of priority; you prioritize things everyday so choose to prioritize your painting time.

Here are some ideas for staying on track and keeping your focus.

Be clear about what your goals are decide what you want and how you will achieve it.

Don’t set arbitrary timelines or unrealistic objectives for yourself that is a recipe for failure.

Set a fixed amount of time for practice and study and make sure it is consistent and uninterrupted time. Keep distractions to a minimum and you will accomplish more in the time you do have.

Let the other people in your life know your intentions so they have a chance at supporting your plan.

Don’t victimize others with what you are doing. If you have made prior commitments to family, friends or employers, fulfill those commitments first.

Surround yourself with people who are supportive and respect what you are trying to achieve. It doesn’t matter what level of success you are after.

Always give any chosen task your full attention and best effort.


6 thoughts on “Focus

  1. There's a quote somewhere that says something like, "Genius is the ability to focus on one thing at a time."

    I've always found that to be in my own work. When I lost my focus time, my work suffered. It's encouraging to hear another artist talk about it. 🙂

  2. Kessie,

    Focus really does work. Painting well requires more than a twitter mindset to succeed.
    In the Stanford study they said when people are distracted and multitasking, the hippocampus( a region involved in the storing and recalling information)shuts down. People don't remember things when doing more than one thing at a time.
    This is not good if you are trying to learn something new or retain what you are studying.

  3. Good timing for me, I really needed this concise reminder. I've missed the last two get-togethers with girlfriends, and felt a bit lonely from it. Yet I know whenever I'm there it's a little bit boring, and I start to notice the general idleness in their lives. How great is it to have a difficult goal to work hard towards, they'll never understand.
    That plush, sit-around life is for the birds.

  4. Well said. I find it difficult to get kids to focus these days. Technology has helped us in some ways, but damaged us in others.

  5. I've had a long standing battle with myself trying to focus for quite awhile now. One thing I've learned as I've tried to better understand just what it means to focus might interest you if you haven't come across it already.

    The etymology of the word focus has it's roots in Latin, and it's original meaning was a fireplace, or, in other words, where heat and energy and light are concentrated.

    Anyway, I'm distracted by your blog at the moment so I'll post this comment and keep reading until I find a new tangent to run off in 😉

  6. Great post, I know exactly what you mean and this has been the biggest difficulty in my artistic life. I've always spread myself way too thinly.
    BTW the illustrations are hilarious.

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