For the last few months I’ve not been painting much, nor have I been pursuing ideas, reading about art, or participating in discussions about art. I’d had enough, already. I’ve made my living as an artist my whole adult life, twenty-four years to be exact. Twenty four years!!!! When I graduated from art school, I immediately sought out and landed freelance work as an illustrator. Seven years later, in 1994, I began painting for myself and exhibiting as a fine artist, and I never looked back…until this year.
Something inside dried up. It really was like that. The work I began at the beginning of this year felt like a slow drip, drip….and then….nothing. The well had run dry.
I’ve gone through periods like this, the dreaded artist block. It’s a period of time when you feel an emotional disconnect with your artistic soul. Everything you create is dreck, and the process of creating is painful. The first time it happened to me I was very frightened, but I was also very lucky. At that time I had a mentor, a wonderful illustrator named Isa Barnett who held my hand through the process. He told me to just stop. Stop making art. He told me to stop thinking about it, stop talking about it, stop worrying about it. He did give me one small morsel to chew on, though. He told me that above all else, I should, in the future, focus on my process, the atmosphere I cultivate for creating. He said in a phone conversation I will never forget that, if I focus on the process, the results would come. I have savored that advice for nearly 20 years and it has been reliable nourishment.
I have lots of interests! Music and writing are at the top of the list. This blog was begun because someone took the time and energy to point out that I’m a good writer, and that I have something to say. He further took the initiative, or the great risk of pissing me off, to set up a Blogspot account for me so that I’d have very little impediment from beginning my online diary. (Thank you again, Tom Degan!) Now, I’m pondering my posts with anticipation. (ah, alliteration!) As for music, I’m seeking out more live experiences and investigating new acts via Pandora Radio. What a great invention that is!! I’m thinking of purchasing a mandolin once finances are in agreement.
There may be a career for me in this localvore industry, I can feel it. Maybe I’ll work at a farmer’s market. Maybe I’ll write about locally resourced products, or farm-to table-restaurants. The other life changes and affirmations that I’ve experienced in the past few years would also make a good read. Since I’ve allowed myself to imagine a whole different life I feel liberated and empowered. Sure, an artist’s life is different from the norm and it is a rewarding life. For me, though, making my living as a painter began to feel stale. Now, the career possibilities I’m considering are new, fresh, and undiscovered. I’m scared shitless, but I’m also very present. I’ve got my attention.
There’s something else to share here, yet another development. While teaching a plein air painting class the other day, I was demonstrating to a student and working on a small oil of a garden scene. After giving her instructions about what I wanted her to concentrate on, I sent the student off to work on her piece and continued playing with mine. Suddenly, an idea came to me for a series of paintings. My well is full again.