All creative people in all creative pursuits run out of steam. The flow of ideas may dry up at any time... or lose their creative appeal. It is indeed an especially frustrating occurrence... and especially for those who are prodigious in their production of work, or who are passionately driven by their need to create. This experience visits us all over and over during our careers.
I have offered some strategies that help me deal with... and even break the deadlock... when my mind... heart and hands seem to be "out of sync." - Changing mediums... working with unusual methods or materials... visiting exhibitions... painting outdoors... thinking "outside of the box" by creating unusual challenges for yourself.
This week, I have been working intently on a larger canvas (24x30 inches)... at a subject that has created within me much self-doubt and discouragement. The main part of the painting involves drawing a foreshortened version of a Lunenburg fishing dory on a tilted plane. One cannot fudge the lines of such a beautifully crafted boat... especially when it will dominate the foreground area of the picture. I spent almost two days working and reworking the form of the dory and found myself rapidly losing interest... in the whole concept.
After supper two evenings ago, I created a challenge to distract myself from the block caused by the drawing hangup. I headed outdoors at 6:00 pm with three burnt sienna acrylic toned panels under my arm... determined to make a painting on each within the three hour window before nightfall.
I hoped to accomplish this task... and at the same time try to avoid acerbating the drawing block, by painting the whole painting in terms of abstracted blocks of colour at the onset... and adding only a small amount of detail at the end of each painting. I allowed myself a window of one hour to set up and complete each.
In my first set up... I added another challenge. Years ago, one of my important mentors, Poul Thrane queried my need to drive around for hours at times, in search of the "perfect" subject before setting down to work. He remarked, "Bruce, you will be a true artist when you are able to select and paint a subject of choice... and upon completing that... turn the easel a full 180 degrees and complete a second good picture directly behind you." It was time to put myself to his test!
The first two paintings, shown top to bottom... are the result of that challenge. Poul was right! A true artist... one who learns to "see" and recognize the strong elements in whatever they are looking at... can make exciting pictures... anywhere about them. I feel that these two small sketches do satisfy his challenge requirements. I enjoyed making both paintings... and found myself excited by both the process and the result. I completed all three paintings within 40-45 minutes... well before the light disappeared.
This process required that I think intuitively... making quick decisions regarding colour and careful placement of brushstrokes. The process was akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The structure and content of the painting emerged without the aid of linear drawing in the initial stages. Those small needs were added easily at the end.
Today was spent in the studio... back to my dory "daze"... and surprisingly... that problem evaporated and the painting is past the lay in stage - ready for "rockin' n rollin' tomorrow! I think that Poul's challenged broke the ice for me and restored my confidence substantially. Can't wait to get at it! The paint will be set up enough for me to make the final decision as to what colour the dory will be. In my original sketch... it was red. In most cases in the Lunenburg tradition... past and present... the dory is a soft, off-coloured orange. I'll decide tomorrow.
But that's a story... for another day and post! Stay tuned!...
Good Painting to All!!!