Painter’s Block… A Dilemma

Comment: Exercising your creativity, whether it be in the form of art, cooking, carpentry, handicrafts, music, photography, writing or whatever you enjoy pursuing… is an individual thing. It is something you do first and foremost for yourself. And, if it is of interest or brings joy or value to the lives of others that is a wonderful bonus.

dilemmaI was looking at my art portfolio this morning and realized that I have not had an oil painting brush in hand since December of 2014. What??? I couldn’t believe it… yet it is true. So what is going on with me that I can’t seem to find the time to do something I love so much? I thought that writing about my dilemma might help me discover the answer. Let’s see if that will work…

I ask myself… what are some possibilities? Well, let’s see what reasons I can come up with that might answer the question.

Like a kid carefully turning over rocks in a creek looking for illusive crayfish… I begin by turning over ideas to see what might scurry into view. The first thing that comes to mind is that I just don’t seem to have the time to paint. That idea lasted about a nanosecond. I’m retired and most weeks I could easily set aside a day or even two to paint a masterpiece (or at least a hobby artist’s version of something someone might want to gaze upon). Clearly not a winner… that idea.

I suppose it could be something similar to writer’s block where an author loses the ability to create new work, or experiences a creative slowdown… let’s call it painter’s block, if there is such a thing. But while there is an obvious slowdown in actually creating something, I don’t feel I’ve lost the ability to create. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t envision myself painting something that interests me… often thinking about the minutest of details that I wish to include in the work.  Could it be then, that this ‘fantasy painting’ in my mind is somehow satisfying my urge to paint? Me thinks not… fantasies are not all they are cracked up to be (even teenage boys will eventually admit this truth). You can’t show a fantasy to someone else as there is no physical presence. Artists produce art for themselves of course, but also so that others can enjoy their creativity. Not a winner there… so let’s move on to other possibilities.

How about the problem of storage. Where in the world do I store all my paintings? I only have so much room available… and let’s face it, my work is not in great demand so when I create a painting I have to keep it somewhere. So much of me goes into each painting that I don’t want to paint over a piece of art that I have created. Storage is a problem that I have to consider, but it is not a showstopper. It must be something else.

 Perhaps then it is simply a lack of inspiration. No… that can’t be it because everywhere I go I see things that I want to translate to canvas. If I could just capture with oils the way the sun is backlighting those clouds… or what if I show some sunlight streaming through those trees, or the fog on that mountainside? There are challenges everywhere that I wish to put a brush to… so again not a winner.

Maybe then I am over stimulated. That is to say, I have so many things that I want to paint (a truism for sure) that I’m just overwhelmed and can’t make a decision on what next to paint. That does seem to be a possibility. A famous TV artist once said that after you learn the basic ‘how-tos’ of painting, the very real problem you will face is what to paint. Maybe now we are getting somewhere closer to an answer to my question.

Could it also be that I have become lethargic… or just plain lazy about pursuing art? I suspect there is more than a little truth here. I don’t have a studio, so setting up and cleaning up takes a lot of time and effort. That in and of itself is, of course, no excuse. As I mentioned I do have time, but admittedly I have become all too lazy… and it saddens me to come to that realization.

So, where does that leave me with regard to my question? Well, I think it is a combination of not being able to decide which of many subjects should next flow from my brushes… and the lazy factor. It may be just that simple.

Answer: stop overanalyzing and overthinking… get off my duff and just paint something… anything!!

answerThe solution just may have presented itself. A few days ago my Brother Don asked me to paint the famous Humpback Bridge, an historic covered bridge in Virginia. That may be just the kick in the tail I need to get me moving forward. I don’t know when I will paint it, but likely it will be sooner rather than later. I have already painted it in my fantasy… now it’s time to put it to canvas.

I leave you with these questions (they are for all of you who have read this, but in particular for my fellow artists):

  1. Do you experience droughts similar to mine?
  2. What do you feel are the causes? and,
  3. What do you do to break out of a stagnant state and become productive once again?

I’d love to hear from you.