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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Artist's Block?

"Lil' Goat" 5 x 7 Mixed Media on Watercolor Card
Original Sold

It's been a while since I've posted, although I've been painting most of the time since the last post.

I'm familiar with writer's block. The way I got around it was to force myself to write for a set amount of time each day, which was easier to do if I already had a story in progress.

Artist's block is different for me: there are plenty of things I want to paint, but I have trouble deciding which projects to devote myself to, because I hate to start paintings and not finish them. Daily painting still keeps me in practice, but if I don't find the finished product particularly inspiring, it makes it harder to start a new piece the next day.

Here are some ways I've found to get around this particular brand of artist's block:

Play with media-- the goat painting above actually features pomegranate juice as the purple in the background. (I actually squeezed a fresh pomegranate over the card out of curiosity, then let it sit for a while until I decided what to put on it.) Even if you don't make a masterpiece, experimenting can unlock your creativity for the next project. Trying a new surface can work too (canvas vs. paper, board, etc.)

Simplify your subject matter--focus on a single subject piece (as opposed to, say, a crowd piece or detailed landscape). Narrowing your focus can help tune out all of those critics in your head as you work.

Work in monochrome, focusing only on lights and darks with your chosen color.

Look around you and capture what you see:

"Fallbrook Garden" 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Flat Canvas
Email if interested in purchasing

In the piece above, I looked out my window on a wet winter day for something to paint. I liked the colors of the red earth and bright oranges I could see across the street in my neighbor's yard, so I worked from that view as a painting exercise.

Another way to beat artist's block is to "paint what you know." If you're pretty well-versed in a subject, there's nothing wrong with revisiting or continuing that subject. It's not a very groundbreaking concept, I know. A little success, however, goes a long way toward re-instilling your confidence in yourself as a painter, and may give you some new ideas for future works. Sometimes that good feeling that comes after what feels like a successful effort can spill over into a batch of new paintings, as you get back into working mode.

Got a tipof your own for artist's block? Share it in the comments!

To see more of my original paintings for sale on Etsy, click here:

Or, click here to see more Fallbrook inspired works:

Monday, February 13, 2012

The problem with people who skim...

No art today. I'm alternating between irritated and slightly amused. I'll be posting the following on my journal on RedBubble instead:

Arrrgggh! Once again, someone didn't take the time to read.

I don't do Facebook, or Twitter, or any social networking-type stuff because I don't trust myself not to post knee-jerk reactions online.
Today, I'm going to post one on my blog.

I recenly wrote an article for Empty Easel. (You can read it for yourself here: The point of the article was to express that if people aren't understanding your work as an artist, it helps to take some time to communicate with them so they do.

To be fair, Empty Easel does some heavy-handed editing that can affect the meaning of some of the articles posted. I've seen this happen to other artists who submit articles to this blog. I knew that when submitting my article, but figured I would take my chances. I didn't particularly like the edited changes; however, I thought the meaning was still clear, as long as someone took the time to read the whole article (always a risk when posting online, I know).

Today, on someone's blog, I found the assertion that I was suggesting that people should change their art to get people to understand them (and "resonate with the buying public"). I did say that if your goal is just to sell (and nothing more), sure, adust your work accordingly. I think we all know that's some standard marketing advice. It's advice I don't follow, by the way.

People are free to disagree with my viewpoints. I DO, however, have a problem with people skimming articles and then opining on said articles and pulling quotes out of context to illustrate their point.

I still stand by the idea that it doesn't hurt to communicate what you're about to people looking at your work. As an artist, I truly enjoy the connection that happens when I can discuss my work with people, as opposed to having them shrug and walk away. As an educator, I also enjoy letting people in on the little "secrets" of art. You like that color combination? Blue and orange are complementary colors, you know. Does the light really stand out on that piece? That's because there's some heavy dark for contrast. Conversations like that don't ask anyone to change their work. They might, however, bring more people into the world of art (especially at a time when there's little being done in our public schools to share this world with our youth).

Again, I've had my work rejected for various reasons, and after going through a particularly exhausting rejection, I immediately turned to my friend and said, "I'm not going to change the way I paint." To follow the suggestions of those particular art jurors would have meant becoming a different artist. I'll never advocate that unless you really are just in it for the money.

So, thanks for skimming my article, art "muser." If you're going to comment on articles written by others, please take the time to read them thoroughly (especially if you're using the writer's name). I didn't see a place for me to leave a comment on your blog to defend myself, so I'm writing my rebuttal (or "clarification") here. I hope you find more exciting things to write about on your blog.