Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When Creativity takes a Vacation

As you may have gathered from previous (*coughwhineycough*) posts, I have been suffering from artist's block recently-! Or maybe it isn't artists block, but pressure I've put on myself that causes my work to come out sub-standard. Or maybe I ditch the work before giving it "the proper chance." Maybe my goals are too high so everything I do seems boring and horrible. No direction. No cohesion. I dunno. But something ain't right. I haven't been feeling it. "IT." Whatever "it" can be... the mysterious, magnificent "it." "It" just isn't there.

A thread was started about this- artist's block, lack of creativity, whateveryawannacallit- on Wetcanvas, one of my favorite message boards. And some great suggestions were thrown out to combat the block. Summarizing:

1. Work several projects at a time
2. Focus on one project at a time (lol)
3. Take time to learn a new technique
4. Set your work aside for a few days, then come back to it
5. "Let everything go"
6. Look at the piece you are disappointed in with a critical eye. What don't you like? What DO you like? Analyze WHY.
7. Try a new printmaking method
8. Take a break and do something non-art
9. Make art when you feel motivated, don't pressure yourself to do it while you aren't in the mood!

Coincidentally, I had a conversation with my friend Tracy a few weeks ago on the subject. It went something like this:

Trace: "Why haven't you done any art lately?"
Me: "I dunno. I can't. When I try something, it comes out HORRIBLE."
Trace: "Well.... have you been sketching lately?"
Me: "No."
Trace: "Why not?"
Me: "I dunno."
Trace: "Jen, I couldn't expect to compete in a race successfully without daily practice runs. What makes you think creating a piece of art is any different?"

Click. Click. Understanding falls into place (thanks for that, Trace).

And then in another vein, my other friend Bridget suggests I learn something new... and tells me I can't give up on art, because art is like breathing to me.

Ah, my wise friends know me too well! :o)

So I decide to learn a new technique. Multiple block printing. The result is satisfying... not 100% wow, but satisfying. I learned a new thing. I felt rejuvinated!

This blog has become more of a dog blog than (then?) anything else over the past few months, but I originally wanted it to be a document of my dogs AND my art, not just one or the other. And Trace is 100% right... sketching is the foundation of fine art. When I was in college we were required to exercise our creativity constantly by keeping daily sketchbooks for each course. What makes me think it could be any different now-?

So I came up with a Creativity Plan. Or statement. Whatever you call it:

1. Sketch several times a week. Post the sketches on my blog as a requirement!
2. Back to basics. I am going to concentrate on single-color relief printmaking for now but take a class on a new printmaking method later this fall. Of course I will post results- whether I like the piece or not.
3. No freaking pressure. I am never going to be Monet. Van Gogh. Audubon. So why am I putting all this pressure on myself?? Relax.

In that vein, I relaxed enough last night to carve (and print) my first really successful, I'm Happy With It, print in months!! And just in time too- it will be entered in the State Fair this weekend for jury into the art show. I will get a pic of it tonight.

After delivering, I will take my sketchbook to the city zoo and draw animals all afternoon.

It will be a busy Saturday. Sound like a plan, stan?

I am getting excited. Things are falling into place. "It" could be back!



runswithdog said...

I only repeat what you tell me. You are the one that said sketching was practice and technique honing. :-)

Glad that it's turning around for you!

Constantina said...

Hurray! I can't wait to see the results.