Thursday, May 24, 2012

Still in the funk

Having had to prepare for a show once a year for the past few year, I've noticed a few things about the creative process that I'd like to share with you.

I'm remembering some time ago when I was not yet in any galleries, just studying like crazy, that the painting process was rather simple. That is, when I was talking classes and going to open studios  it was always rather laid out for me in terms of what I was going to paint that day. The class began, the model showed up and you just started painting. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't quit that simple, you had the teacher's instructions on what you should be learning, your own thoughtfulness before painting and asking yourself all of those previous questions I mentioned in my last post, but there is something decidedly different when you are no longer in a class or just painting in open studios. You begin to find your voice, your purpose as a painter, things become more personal and intuitive. Its no longer just about getting in front of the model, still life or landscape and applying some lesson you had just learned, instead, It becomes more about what I am connecting to when I look at the model, landscape... etc. and putting that on the canvas. Going a step further, when you are setting up your own set ups, choosing your own location to paint at, or choosing whether or not to snap that photo to paint from later, you are starting to pull from your own experiences and drawing upon the core of who you are. I don't know if that makes any sense, but i have noticed this in my own work and especially when I have been working hard to prepare works for a show, it can be exciting and also emotionally draining. My work becomes very personal to me. Coming up with the idea of what to paint and the process of creating that painting, there are so many emotions I go through that when the piece if finally done, I am exhausted and delighted at the same.

I have found also, that once I have finished work for a show or event, it takes me some time to get back in the groove again. I remember other artists used to tell me this when I was still a full time student and I could not quit understand it. Now having painted for more then one show, I fully understand the ups and downs, the high intensity and lazer focused attitude leading up to a show and then the very low,  mountain peak to valley below feeling so many artists go through.  I like to call it being in the funk. It is that creative low, meandering around with no direction, like a fish out of water.  It is not a fun place to be but is definitly a part of the creative process. I think it comes from the deep emotional connection we have as artists to our work, its so personal, we dig down to find that creativity and we critique ourselves so severely sometimes that once we have completed our goal and made it to the top of that mountain there is sure to follow that downward slop of relief, delight, joy, sadness, excitement  and pure exhaustion to say the least. I've tried many things to get out of this funk, the faster the better of course. I give myself freedom to experiment, paint something I wouldn't normally paint, revisit ideas for paintings that I previously abandoned, go paint with friends, visit the art museums and galleries, pay closer attention to life happening around me to stir up the creative juices, read a good book, talk art with friends, talk life with friends.. etc, but I have to say really the best way to get out of the funk is to JUST PAINT.

You have to pick up the brush and go for it. Sometimes those first one or two attempts fail misserably but again its part of the process. Get those bad ones out of the way so the paint can start flowing again and ideas emerge from what we might consider a bad painting and all of a sudden your back in the groove.

So just a word of encouragement to myself and anyone who might find themselves in a creative funk from time to time. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again :)

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