It is a need. I know this because if I don't paint, I feel that there is something amiss with the day. I end the day feeling "short". I did not paint today and feel as if I've missed an important part of sharing. Painting is like all the art forms. Artists, writers, musicians, dancers, architects, puppeteers, etc. ... feel that if they did not Give something to the Universe, that they come up lacking. After all, and I realized this many years ago, the reason I am here is to create beauty. I am here to counter-weight what is negative in the world. I believe the reason that there is so much literature, so many movies, so many themes of "Good vs. Evil", is that, that is precisely what life is about. The tide of Good constantly tries to wash the effects of Evil. And if there is an Army of Good then I'm signed up for that. I'm on THAT team. So it is important for me to contribute.
So like all good planners, I plan to paint tomorrow. Blessed tomorrow. I will begin the day grateful. Grateful to have the day, grateful to paint and grateful for my family and friends who support me in doing what I love.
I have no image to post here. I would have to post photos of all my student's "works in progress" or finished pieces. And I don't have them.
What I'd like to post is something from my heart... a picture of their authenticity, of their struggle, their challenges that they set out for themselves. As artists, as art students, we work with our materials. We also work while shouldering the baggage that we carry on our backs. The bags might contain our past successes, our accolades, or our perceived failures in portraying what we set out to portray. All sorts of outside influences effect our work... is the room too cold, did I bring the wrong colors to class, did I have a good breakfast, and worst yet, is the poisonous voice of my ___________ (fill in the blank), running the negative loop of criticism through my brain while I'm struggling.
Can we for a moment, pretend we are young children. Pretend we have no negative voice running through our head. Instead we have our supportive friends, teachers, words of support from strangers .... feeding our brains, hearts, our artist spirits..... telling us its OK, its OK to carry forward to push beyond our limits. We have our innocent joy of moving the materials to and fro, of delighting in "a color placed here" ... or in "wow I am so impressed with myself that I could portray that!" To sit in not-so-comfortable places and to not judge ourselves harshly. Art is all about Process, not about Product. OK the paper is behaving badly, I applied the wrong colors. But I am young and this is just a piece of paper. There are THOUSANDS of pieces of paper. I am an adult now and have an adult's income. I can go to the store and buy a million pieces of paper. I can change it up, I can play. I can rejoice in what I commit to paper. I know I can do more, can do different, can find joy in whatever I've created today.
I can find joy in what I have created today.
I've repeated the phrase for a reason.
Replace the loop in your mind.
I can find joy in what I have created today.
After nearly two weeks of Painter's Block, do I decide to paint a simple subject ..... noooo, I choose something reflective and complex. But I knew I had to paint something that intrigued me. After fiddling with some colorful objects ... trying to arrange a simple still life, I remembered my mother's old iron. Old irons are so great because they are SHINY and the cords are funky and cloth-covered. New irons are so boring because they are brushed metal and streamlined. When I was in school at UMass, I did a whole series of self portraits in this iron. It was a rather dark period for me, I had lost at Love, I was paying my way through school and therefore broke most of the time, so my prints and drawings were rather dark. I'm embarrassed to say I even called the series "Poor Traits of the Self". Wow, it's a good thing we mature and/or manage to emerge from dark places.
So today, after reading Carol Marine's book entitled, "Daily Painting", I took a difficult subject and her advice about using dark values and greys, and I painted! I was so happy to be painting again that I didn't even mind the Messy Middle (which I was in for a looong time!) I delighted in creating greys and stroking them on the canvas; adjusting values and temperature, and then coming on with more paint. I've included my palette because my students might think it's funny to see me use so many "greys". I'm not known for using them very much.
When we are Stuck it is important to reach for help. Important to reach for words of encouragement and inspiration that lead us back to where we want to be, rather than staying by ourselves and letting the never-ending loop of negative thoughts take away our days. Each day is our day to paint, to create. Even if we don't exactly spend it painting, as long as we spend it in a non-Stuck mode, that's what is important. I am so glad I had just received the book "Daily Painting". It arrived just when I needed it. I devoured it in one day and when I finished it, I felt as though I had been given a whole new energy charge.
This might be worse than a “block”. The painting is there … it just won’t come out. Well admittedly, I painted a painting yesterday but it was really awful. I worked until I had a headache and then I took my Gamsol on a paper towel and wiped it out. Now I have a board with the ghost of my “headache-causing-dismay” left on the board. I am in an ethical dilemma now because I can hardly stand having the ghost stare at me … so I turned it upside-down. But it’s still staring at me. And all I want to do is throw out the board. But I am a Yankee. (No, not a Yankee fan - I was brought up in Massachusetts after all) … but I can’t throw out a perfectly good gesso panel.
Help I have a painting stuck inside of me AND a ghost is haunting me. So what to do. First I have to be generous with myself. I have to understand that all artists go through this. It is often external factors that cause this. I know in my case, I recently exhibited a series of new work in a show. While the work was received with much approval, none of it was purchased. Do artists need that kind of proof … of validation … that their work is worthy? I think maybe so. After the show, I began to question my subject matter, and began to cast my mind to other matter and each time I rested my thoughts on something different, I came up with the question … well, so, who is going to be interested in THAT, hasn’t THAT already been done?
As artists we sometimes lose sight of the most important thing. It is not whether or not someone likes, or will buy the work, it is the Process that feeds us. It is the process of developing the composition, of laying out the materials, of picking up the brush, pencil, whatever and applying marks to the canvas and becoming delightfully lost in the moment of the creative process. When no one else is distracting, when our mind is free to float or fly, THEN is when we can dream, experiment, free-think, and play. THEN is when we can create authentic art. It is this understanding, this letting-go, this trusting the Universe … when the painting will flow from our brush. What is it they say … Dance Like No One Is Watching … Sing Like No One Is Listening … Love Like You Have Never Been Hurt.
I was warned by a friend that I should be careful about painting so many cakes for fear that I might be labeled "The Cake Lady". So what better subject to discuss than Sandwiches............
We (60-somethings) are indeed a sandwich generation. We care or cared for our children and our parents at the same time. We remember when each family had one car, but out parents grew up when cars were only just invented and hardly anyone had one. We remember when there was one phone ... attached by a non-removable wire, in a centralized location in the homes in which we grew up. Sometimes those phones were even "party lines". I grew up with one phone for nine people and it was a four-party line. There were no long, meandering, basically pointless phone conversations. Now we all have smart phones permanently attached to bodies. And honestly, I'm not sure I'm as smart as my phone. I used to think I was pretty smart but now my phone has outsmarted me......I don't know how to use it. And then there is the subject of computers. Oy.
I used to type my college term papers on a portable electric typewriter. I had this little purple plastic cartridge that had yellow correction tape. You are all saying .... oh yeah, I remember that! Remember, if you made a mistake, you had to backspace to the beginning of the error, then place the correction tape between the carbon ribbon and the paper and then retype your mistake so it would appear white. THEN, backspace again and FIX your mistake. Now ..... as long as you have your URL's, JPG's, http://'s, and your GB's straight, you can send anything ... at the speed of light ... anywhere in the world!
That is unless if you are the Sandwich type, and computers elude you. Those of us who are the squishy peanut butter and the gooey jelly in the center of the Sandwich Generation, experience the immense frustration of doing even the simplest of tasks on digital devices. AND THEY CHANGE SO FAST. You no sooner kinda-sorta get the hang of something and some whipper-snapper IT Developer decides to Up-Grade it.
I'm trying to figure out how to "save this as a draft" so that in the morning, when I wake up "not so cranky", I might delete it. But the only button I can find is "Post".