Use Mise en Place with Your Art

Cooking up a story or drawing? Then it pays to take advice from the culinary world.

Every cooking show I’ve ever watched admonishes cooks to employ mise en place. Simply stated, this means having all your ingredients ready before you cook. When I first started my own explorations of the kitchen and all things digestible, I found this advice indispensable. 

The few times I’ve ignored this proved to be a disaster. I rushed at a frantic pace to get the onions chopped or the garlic mashed as the roux in my pan gradually darkened to a charcoal smudge. Yes, preparation sure does help.

So why can’t other artists take a cue from chefs? Let’s all prepare our workspace before we cook up a new art project. 

For me this has taken on a ritual of sorts. When I’m actively teaching (my day job) I have scant time in the morning to write. I don’t want to waste a second on sundry activities I can accomplish beforehand. 

So the night before I set to work. I premake my coffee and let it sit in a good thermos, thus giving me hot brew the instant I wake. I also sometimes brew coffee in an antiquated balance siphon. I prep that too so it’s ready to go. I have my desk area cleared of clutter. Finally, I’ll have my lunch and car packed so I can rush out the door quickly.

Balance Siphon Coffee Maker

It may not seem like much, but this prep time adds up. I figure I gain anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes each morning. And sometimes that IS my writing time. In other words, if I didn’t prep, I would have no writing time at all.

So what can you do to streamline your art process? Are there daily routines you can accomplish at a different time of the day? Comment below to share ideas.


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