If anyone really cares, it probably seems like I have been ‘missing in action’ over the past two months. NO, just thinking about my work, wanting to paint, but getting bogged down with trivialities and distractions. No ……well, some are not trivialities, they are family and family takes time. Then when you get back, nothing is working for you. Where did all the ideas go? Where is my color sense? What happened to my gesture and painting skills? Everything I am turning out looks about like something you could step in out in the pasture.
Is this you? I don’t want to just be all alone in this feeling. I know others have the same problem. We all know about it first hand. We also know that we finally just cannot take it any longer and we go and just make that mess we have to make before we can get the groove going again. Even if it’s a little groove and not a long one.
Another thing is that I didn’t have any deadlines or obligations. I think I work better under a certain amount of time constraints if it’s not too stressful.
Last post * I was working on eight little 16 x 16 inch canvases that I was painting over. I do have a number of paintings I could paint over… and I eventually do. I prefer starting fresh though most of the time. This was pushed on me by having so much work in the studio it was good to get some out and it could then be replaced without adding to the inventory. I thought I was going to turn these little babies out in no time. So much for that notion. I think I take longer working on small pieces than I do with large ones. I started by just painting over the whole canvas with a mother color somewhat like variations of yellow ochre. Heck, everything goes with yellow ochre doesn’t it? Then I drew with a long Egbert brush with Payne’s gray… then I drew with Ebony pencils and charcoal…………then I started with black and white paint. Before I knew it I had a couple of them I thought I liked. Man, I was going to be more graphic and more minimalist.
I was wrong… the next day they looked like that stuff I mentioned before in the pasture….and dead as a doornail. SO, I went on to others and started working. I tried sitting down… not a good idea. I have to paint standing up. Finally got back up and worked on two I think I liked. Those are the two I posted last time.
SO…. I kept reading books and making food for holidays, shopping and in the back of my mind were those canvases just up in the studio waiting. I couldn’t do anything else until they were done…….I am built that way. I can waste an awful lot of time with this kind of thing but it has to be or I would have hundreds of unfinished projects.
Today I think I have two more of these eight done. I took pictures anyway to post two more. When all eight are done, then the decision will have to be made as to in what order they are hung.
I look forward to hearing from anyone who can tell me a great way to get through this self-imposed slump……….
*correction………… there was no ‘post’ about the other two canvases… it seems I posted them on FB. SO look there for the first two.
Oh how I share your pain…you have to just work through it! I worked for 10 hours Monday and painted almost to finish a canvas almost three times, then went for tea and came back and gessoed it out AGAIN…kinda like shampooing I did it two more times and finally left it for the night as a gessoed but very well textured canvas…got up on Tuesday and had only two hours to work on it ;but got yet another good start on it. I think this time I am on to something….just the bane of art and being a stickler for a creation being something new and not just a repeat of something conceived earlier…It seemed every attempt was some reinterpretation of a work already done of mine, I am not a fan of repeat performances in paintings…. just seems like a cop out to me…who knows…sorry you had to deal with it too!
Ahh, Cathy…. I know you and know you can pull it out……….10 hours and painting over, UGG!
I love your work! You are such an inspiration!
I’m curious what advice you would give to a 39-year-old woman who had loved to sketch for fun in the past, loves to paint but just picked up a paint brush a month ago, has mostly buried her artistic creative self down deep, and who is interesting in unleashing her creative energy for the first time in over twenty years. That’s me, of course. 🙂
I signed up for a 5-week abstract painting course at a local gallery. The first class was last week and all the women attending told me how brave I was for being there. I didn’t understand why until they started painting and found out that they were mostly professionals there to fine tune their skills. I still loved the class, but did not learn any fundamentals. The instructor said that me saying that I don’t know what I’m doing is perfect because it leaved me wide open to create from within without being bogged down about rules and methods. What do you think? Do you think it’s better to go at it on my own or attend classes? Would love any words of wisdom you may have.
Hi Liz………….. thanks for writing. I would first say to just “go for it” if you love doing this (painting and drawing). Of course you will need some instruction. Look for the right kind. That is hard to define in a short period of time. Classes and workshops depend on what you want to learn. If you are not interested in going to formal classes in a college, seek people whose work and philosphy you think most match yours at the time you are taking a class. You can learn a little at a time. Along with that you have to spend time in the studio as much as you can. IF it is one time a week, then it’s one time a week. If one hour a day, that’s a good one, too, as it keeps you from getting stale like I was talking about in my blog. If a person knows nothing much but the desire to learn, I would start with design and drawing. Not all drawing is of the kind that is making a reproduction of what is in front of you. Sometimes it is sensitive mark-making that is symbolic of what you like or want to portray.
I don’t know where you live but it seems strange that professionals would be taking a class at a gallery… what kind of gallery? Most professionals want to take a class or workshop to learn new skills in a new medium maybe or they are changing some of the ways they are working. Some, also, just need to get out now and then and mix it up with other artists as that is a good way to network and inspire you when you go back to the studio. They are right at a new person to the arts is ‘like a child’ and they don’t know that they are not that knowledgeable……That is good LOL……as I can tell you that you never know it all. If you think you do, then you are fooling yourself and your art is probably getting stale.
Oh yeah…. and personally, I would recommend heavy bodied acrylic as you can use it on paper or canvas, as well as being able to use it transparently or opaquely. You won’t have to worry about ruining your paper or canvas as you can just cover over the experiments with gesso and do something else. Watercolor is one of the hardest to work with as it is almost impossible to get a fresh looking watercolor without knowing where you are going from the beginning. Encaustic/wax painting is wonderful but needs a lot more equipment. Collage is also a great medium to use with your acrylic.
Hope that can get you started.
Thank you for all the information, Cherly! I’m drawn towards painting with acrylics on canvas, watercolor pencils on paper, and using pastels and smearing them all around on paper too. I’m really curious to try encoustic, but I think I’ll see how the other work goes first. I live on an Island in WA State. The gallery is small with a classroom in the back. (http://www.gallerybythebay.com/) I might need some more formal instruction. 🙂 Thank you for your great advice!!
Cool……… if you are in Seattle… go by my gallery there, Gallery Mack on Western Ave. I’ll look up your gallery. There are MANY artists working in encaustic in the northwest. You should be able to find great classes there using their supplies before you decide if you want to invest. There are economical ways to start out.
Cheryl! Wow, do I ever know how you feel. With the holidays came family and work, work, work and not painting. I tried to sneak in a little time but there was always something to do for someone else. I have been creating my own pile of cow mess. I guess the uncertainty that we face when we start up again is just part of it. Sometimes I avoid coming into my studio because I can’t think how to begin again. I need to have some sort of show as the work is piling up so high I can barely get around. I took a Robert Burridge workshop in Nov. and he works on bunches of paintings quickly and at the same time. He is unbelievable. It did make me work faster and looser and try not to “think” so much. What brand of acrylics do you use? I am using Holbein Acryla and the color is so vivid but they are very expensive. Still painting the birds and doing a new series of 12″x12″ panels. So far so good. I’ll send them to you when I finish more of them. Oh, do you tone your canvas before drawing the lines etc. ? Oh, you are right yellow ochre is great.
Oh yeah… we all know the feeling. Maybe after the holidays it is a given for many of us with all that is taking us out of the studio. You know it’s bad when you clean the kitchen rather than go to the studio to stare at the latest catastrophe.
I use NovaColor mostly…some Golden and I tried out some of the Chroma Interactive almost a year ago.
I do tone the canvas… but of course, not always the same color. I have just been using a lot of Yellow Ochre lately. It is usually an arbitrary choice unless I have a certain scheme in mind due to a commission. When I get through with these small ones, I am getting out my BIG canvas again.