Posts Tagged “artist angst”

Two weeks ago I painted a decent size piece (24 x 32) and the whole thing flowed. I felt good about it from beginning to end, and still do, which is rare – frequently it takes me some distance of time to like a painting. The new image is now gracing my website homepage. (It needs a title – suggestions??)

This past week I painted another largish piece, and it was a struggle the whole way through – the image kept needing adjustments in proportions and relationships. By Friday afternoon I was just slapping the paint on to ‘complete’ it, tired of the fight I was having with the damn thing.

My husband came up to see the painting and raved about it. It’s nice that someone else likes it, but I doubt it’ll ever see a frame and gallery. A week of painting with nothing to show for it. Howzcum I can do something that works so well and turn right around and fall off the horse?

It’s weeks like this that make me think life would be so much easier if I were flipping burgers or washing cars or doing some other kind of honest labor.


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Not that this EVER happens to me. But what’s a (wo)man to do when faced with difficulties in the studio? Suggestions:

  • Check email
  • Update your website (surely there’s something that needs doing!)
  • Post to your blog
  • Check email again
  • Email (or better yet, call) a gallery dealer: “Howz things??” (and hey, it counts as work!)
  • Take the dogs for a walk
  • Split wood
  • Pour a large drink and do a crossword puzzle
  • Check email again
  • Clean the studio (hey, at least you’re in there! and god knows there’s dog hair everywhere…)

When you’ve run through all of these options and the painting STILL isn’t working and you’ve decided you’re the worst artist on the planet and how the hell did you ever think you could make your living at this anyway fergawdsakes, you have a couple more options:

  • Pull out a book on a REAL artist who actually who knew how to paint…and study it
  • Sketch some new painting ideas
  • Slather all that paint on your palette onto a piece of Yupo, or even onto that painting that isn’t working (no sense letting good paint go to waste, at least!)

If any of these suggestions work, tell me so I know what to do next time. Not that this ever happens to me.

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“No one made me do this. I love being an artist and wouldn’t do anything else. But it’s strenuous. We artists don’t just shake things out of our sleeves. It demands mental concentration, and at the end of a hard day of painting, you are drained. The positive thing about being an artist is that every once in a while you make a breakthrough, and you really see the possibility of new horizons in your work.” – Woody Gwyn

Today I need reminding of this. I started a piece that was a risk, and I don’t like it. Which means I don’t like my studio, or my career, or my ideas, or my life at the moment. It happens. Woody is right, BTW – a hard day of painting (whether good or bad) is tiring. The muse never lets go, though.


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