Thursday, September 15, 2011

Black Knight progress & keyword cards

Finally got started painting this yesterday. I find it frustrating that the less time I have to paint, the more I procrastinate about finally setting brush to fresh sketch. These days I only have a couple hours that I can snatch in the middle of the day, and then evenings. But often by the time evening rolls around, my brain is too tired to really engage in a piece.

It's not as hard to get myself sketching, but for some reason getting the colors in mind and actually starting to paint starts to get intimidating. As if too much time to think about it, just gives time for the anxiety to start ratcheting up.

I've been frequently asked in emails what do I do about artist block, and I never really had an answer for that in the past, because I didn't ever feel like I got blocked at all. But I think now I do have an answer for it: If you're feeling blocked or unmotivated, perhaps the answer is just that you're not drawing/painting enough.

When time spent art-making becomes too precious, then the pieces themselves start to become imbued with this sense of "preciousness" -- this need to be perfect. One can't get caught up in that, because then a painting becomes about the expectation, and not the actuality of doing and creating. Sure it's nice to have a finished piece at the end of the day, that you're proud of. But as soon as a painting is done, it's on to the next one, the next story to grip and involve, the next process and evolution.

My minutes and hours have become precious, and it forces me to feel that each line and stroke and color choice has to be important. It has made staring at a white sketch laid out on a board intimidating, and it surprises me that I can revert to such a state after being immersed in creating paintings day after day for so many years. It reminds me that I can't take for granted the ease I have with creative processes. It's something that comes with practice and has tto be maintained.

It's why last week I did a couple of quick paintings, trying a spontaneous shakedown to just jump into mini-paintings without over-thinking them. I think I'll need to do those more often!

Despite a couple of scheduling setbacks, I've managed to make some good headway in this piece. And after the initial dragging of the feet, I'm eager to dive into it now!

* * *

And a few more keyword sketch cards for a batch of orders going out next week.
left to right: dna, unicorn, yeehaw, wolf, fulfillment


  1. I've been looking at your paintings for a decade. And I'm sorry to hear your time spent with them is so little.
    They never cease to amaze and delight me.

  2. Oh it's not a bad thing though. It's just that there are many more pulls in my life these days! My daughter is a joy, but time consuming. :)

  3. Yea, I think you're exactly's the preciousness (did anyone warn us kids -- hah, KIDS, I mean, KID, took up THAT much time??) that unconsciously starts self-doubts.. will I be as good, as perfect as I need to be? Whereas when it's routine, one just does it...

  4. Thank you for this, I thought it was just me! I have 2, they're 3 years and 17 months. I know exactly what you mean, those few hours you get in a week have to COUNT, they have to mean something, you put so much pressure on yourself to make them productive, and you're harsher on the outcome than before. I feel less confident as well, feel I'm not getting the "practise makes perfect" time. But I know in a few more years they'll be in school 5 days a week and I'll miss them dreadfully! Sp painting time will come. It's hard trying to balance being mum, cook, cleaner, wife and artist! xxx

  5. There's so much truth in what you said! I find myself thinking too much about painting and in the end I am too scared to pick up a brush, but I know I feel better when I draw and paint more.

    Enjoy your daughter, children are a gift. Maybe someday she'll paint like you!

  6. It's not so much that it becomes routine (that makes it sound mindless), but you free yourself to go outside the box more often without clinging to perceived needed results!

    And yes, I am enjoying my time with her. It is amazing how quickly the past two years have gone by already!

  7. Your children will grow up before you know it, the time with them, is precious for them. Always put them first, and you will never have any regrets... your a Profession Artist chase the money, and where you can express yourself...

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I never thought of artist block as you said it, but for me I think what you said perfectly sums it up.

  9. You say "I find it frustrating that the less time I have to paint, the more I procrastinate about finally setting brush to fresh sketch. "

    That sounds so familiar.

    Also the part about having to tackle colours.
    If I am too daunted what I do is scan the line art (I always do anyway) and test ideas for colours on Photoshop.
    When I am happy I print it out and keep that next to my working table for reference. Make it so much easier.