The Art of Tenacity

"Flowers" 9 x 12in Chalk Pastel on Paper
Click here to purchase original

We've all heard that saying:
"Art is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration"

When something comes naturally to you, it's hard to put the work into it. I've noticed this in my years of teaching; the students who were "brightest" often got the most frustrated when something didn't come easily to them. I've found that the painting itself is not necessarily the hardest part. It's making time to paint, and then, once it's completed, sharing that piece with others.

The piece above was an example of all of the outside work I have to put into a painting. Exhausted, I found myself strangely awake at 4 a.m. The house was quiet, so I thought, "Why not?" and got up to tape some pastel paper to a board. I didn't feel like painting much of anything, but I sifted through some recent photos and decided on a bright bunch of flowers from the spa at Glen Ivy Hot Springs. I figured I could paint nice and loose, and focus on color.

An hour later, bleary-eyed and unsure of what had happened, I had a completed painting. About halfway through I had hit that panic moment, where the painting felt like it was drowning, and was tempted to put it away for later. I knew, though, that I wouldn't find my way back to it if I did so. I pressed on, and finished the piece. These late night (or early morning) painting sessions usually end with me placing the piece somewhere I can see it when I first get up, so I can decide if I like the piece or not.

The next day, I was thrilled to see how the piece had turned out. I wanted to post it, but ran into a myriad of technical difficulties: a lost camera cord, another camera with the button missing (rendering it useless), a frazzled computer cord, a bad scan (came up yellow on one third?) and a missing flash drive, making it hard for me to transfer the piece from one computer to the next. I took a deep breath, found an old flash drive, cleared some memory, and managed to get the thing scanned in.

At some point, most rational people would have given up. I figured this was one of those times where my devotion to the work was being tested, and kept going. If you're one of those people who creates things, you probably know that it really is the perspiration that makes your art happen, and the inspiration is just that little kick in the butt that pushes you in the right direction. In other words, tenacity wins.


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