|Alpine Glow I, acrylic, 11x14|
There are many ways of getting yourself into a rut, and sometimes I even manage to do it all. Here are some dangerous things to look for:
- Scheduling several important shows in one year sounds like a good thing, but it means having to paint consistently on a strict schedule throughout the year. This leaves me alone in the studio for days, living inside my head without a break - not a good thing at all. One looses perspective and may even jeopardize quality of work.
- Complicated logistics can drain one's energy and enthusiasm. This could include use of substandard art materials, painting on canvases that are difficult to frame, expensive and exhausting business trips, inefficient delivery of works to and from the gallery, emotionally draining receptions. Some of this can be avoided, but on or two are sure to get me every time.
- Taking workshops to learn new things is great, except at the time when you are already in a rut. While you are hoping to refresh yourself , diving into a completely different painting method may push you into believing that you are utterly incompetent. Also, beware that people who teach things different from what you do, typically don't have much good to say about what you do. I guarantee that won't make you feel like a million bucks.
- Starting a completely unrelated project which is much easier and emotionally more rewarding than what you are just now experiencing with your art is dangerously seductive. It will make you ask yourself – why am I not doing this instead punishing myself to be an artist who can’t do anything right? Sounds logical, doesn't it? Well, it's not.
So how to turn all this around?
The only way I can feel worthy of entering the inner sanctum again is if I ask myself what are the good things I know for certain that I can do in there? Funnily, there is always something on the GOOD LIST!
- Organizing! Why not clean the studio and sort out my electronic art files?
- Compositions! I can start a new notebook and pencil in compositions, that's always a great fun.
- Colors! I love making small color studies and playing with my color wheel.
- Art materials! There are always mediums and tools that I never use. I wonder what they can do?
And here is is the BLACK LIST of things I mustn't do until I stop feeling about making art, like a seasick sailor in the middle of a prefect storm:
- No watching of on line art classes and trying to paint using new techniques from art books. Would the seasick sailor climb on top of the mast? I don’t think so.
- No trying to make a painting using new techniques. The new knowledge will have to find a subtle indirect way to seep into my work. Let it ferment.
- No committing to anything new and unrelated to my art. A one night stand or a lighthearted affair is fine, but keep it at that. There is nothing else I am meant to be in this one short life, as long as my hand can hold the brush.
- No avoiding the studio, because that's exactly what spiders expect me to do (I hate spiders)
- And absolutely no researching and approaching new galleries - this one is fatal! New business partners deserve the best you can offer, and that certainly won't happen when you are in a rut.