Painter's Block

Artists get burned out.  Being creative on demand is not always easy.  Sometimes pressure to finish up a series or a piece that's been taunting you is too daunting a task when the deadline is approaching.  I think that's why the really, seriously determined painters are daily painters.  It's a movement of sorts, by those who are obviously talented, but want to hone their craft.  Get into the habit of being forced to start and finish something within a given time slot of (usually) twenty-four hours.  This is a great necessity in my opinion, because a painting career is not a standard eight hour workday.  Time spent marketing and blogging, gallery inquiries, and posting your work can be accounted for, but studio time is hard to gauge.  How many of us have been in the studio, working on a piece, and have five hours fly by without food or drink? If it wasn't for bathroom breaks (i have four kids so bathroom breaks are a big part of my routine), I'd never know what time it is!  Being engrossed in a painting is like a runner finding a secret stash of energy to sprint to the finish line!  It's euphoric!  Music on loud, hands flailing about, messy brushes everywhere, paint all over the floor, and the finish line within reach!  It's the best feeling in the world for someone like me, who's had unfinished paintings sit (staring at me) for up to eight years before inspiration returns, ugh.  Talk about frustrating.

Sometimes those euphoric moments are few and far between.  This is why artists sometimes need a little love shove from someone else to get to work.  When feeling uninspired, you may not want to waste time painting crap, or waste a perfectly good, white (or primed), clean canvas.  I say paint anyhow.  If painting is your full-time mode of employ, then first, be grateful, and second, find a way to recharge your idea battery.  Freshen up your thoughts.

But, what if the said painter (or myself, for instance, *wink*) has painter's block?  What if the easel and every color sitting in little metal tubes or plastic jars are saying absolutely nothing to you when you enter your studio?  What then?  

There are days when my sketches look terrible.  Too terrible to even bother to transfer to a canvas because I know I'm gonna hate that sketch, whether it's graphite, or covered in paint.  It sucks, and a sucky sketch is a sucky painting, in my experience.  

For me, sometimes being away from my supplies, out of my studio, is all I can do to find new ideas.  However, I live in the country, and there is no fun people watching here, no people energy and no people movement.  No seemingly interesting, strangely dressed humans to wonder about.  So, for me, to get rid of painter's block, I write.  I'm not saying that I write well.  I just write.  Kinda like now.

Writing is my way of thinking out loud.  A manner of brainstorming.  Figuring out what I'm thinking and tapping it out before pondering it.  And, sometimes, these little exercises are fruitful, and transfer to canvas well.  For instance.  I'm sitting here listening to thirty mile an hour winds, forcing the twenty-year old gum tree outside my window to aggressively beat my wood siding.  I begin to wonder...What if I were outside in the wind being forced to sway like that tree?  How would I be bracing myself?  What would my hair be doing?  What expression would I have on my face? What would I be wearing?  Am I cold?  Wet?  Are my cheeks chapped?  The more questions I ask, the more detail I get.  

These little details turn into a picture in my head.  My cheeks are pink.  My eyes are squinty,  My shirt is vintage Woolrich, fitted, red and black checkerboard print.  I'm wearing flowing pajama pants.  They're billowing in the wind.  My hair is swirling about around my face and down my back.  I'm holding on to a wooden rail on the deck.  It's late evening, and the sun has set.  The trees behind me sway along, following my lead...

I keep going until I have a have a little story in my head about a character and a set, that could very well, be interesting enough to paint.  Almost a snapshot of a scene, which sometimes make for great paintings.

I'm not saying that my idea is a great one.  Actually, it only works about half the time for me.  But in the grand scheme of things, is 50% really a bad score?  It's great for hits in baseball, right?

I'm going to sleep.  In the morning, I'm painting the wind...