Thursday, April 9, 2015

Just Do It!

Sometimes, you have to "just do it"!  Remember those old Nike commercials?  If you're too young-Google it! But what if you're not inspired?  We all struggle at some time to get into the studio. What do you do if  you find yourself putting it off?   I don't know about you, but I have a million reasons not to paint.  Here are a few things that derail studio time and how to get around it.

The studio.  Or the kitchen table as the case may be.  What is a studio?  If you have a dedicated space for your art, consider yourself lucky.  If you have to set up and clean everything up each time in order to use that space for something else, that in itself will be a good excuse to never start. I would suggest, if at all possible, finding a small area where you can leave your art supplies out.  A place for your art to call home.  If this is not possible, there are ways to make it easier to make art.  For quite a while I kept a sketchbook, paints, brushes and a palette in a bag stuffed in a closet.  It was accessible and at the ready but also easy to pack back up and put away.  I transitioned from that set up to a card table in the family room.  That way my unfinished paintings could call to me! My point is, make it easy to access your supplies and you will be more likely to get them out and make art!

Fear.  Its real.  It’s silly, but real.  Ask yourself--Could it be fear? Fear of failure? I tend to expect each attempt at painting to produce a masterpiece. What if I bomb?  You will.  Why can’t paint the way I want? You won't every time, or maybe not right away.  Maybe your expectations are unreal. (We can't all be Monet.) But that’s silly and I’m going to give you some ideas to help you get painting again.

You know you need more time in the studio (practice) —but you avoid the studio because you cant paint the way you want.  You cant paint the way you want, because you don't get in the studio! And so the cycle goes.  The effect is that you never even start.  How do we get past the fear?  You silence the voices that tell you you are no good.  Who really cares?  So you aren’t Picasso?  Who is? What constitutes good art?  Who says what is good and what is not?  Dare I say, YOU DO!!  So stop beating your art up! Let go of all the negative feelings and thoughts and let the art be art just because it is!  Art is expression.  Nothing more or less.  And your expression is just a valuable and good as anyone’s. So kick the fear to the curb and make some art. 

Start small.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.   Do one small painting a week, or a month or a day.  A small work.  A large sheet of white paper or canvas is scary!  A 4 x 6 postcard size piece of paper is doable!  In fact, its easy.  It takes less than an hour (unless you’ve got serious perfectionism issues!)  and is not very scary to fill a smaller format.  By working small you don’t feel you are wasting expensive materials.  You are free to experiment and be imperfect.  Imperfection is a gift you give yourself. (see the above paragraph about fear) Trust me.  When you learn to embrace your imperfect self and your imperfect art, you can learn to love whatever you do.  It frees you to bravely express yourself! And working small helps us take small bites of time to do what we love.  

Do what you love.  If you do what you love, your more likely to enjoy yourself. But if you don’t like what you produce, keep at it!  I’ve never been able to do a crocus to my liking.  So, in keeping with my own advice,  I finally put my studio together, (I've had it torn up for nearly two years) silenced my inner critic, and got in the studio to paint some small paintings. I love flowers and spring is the time for flowers!  While I know flowers are not for everyone, for me they are timeless.  Their beauty enchants me.  How can I not try to capture the beauty I see?  I also love people and love to paint portraits.  These two subjects provide me with plenty of things to paint!  So find what inspires you, what you love.  Is it color?  Is it landscape?  Or birds?  Paint what you love and you will be more likely to get in the studio to get the practice you need to paint the way you want!

 And last, art is risky.  Or is it?  Hey, driving to work every morning carries huge risk!  In light of the risks we take every day, how risky is art, really? What are you so afraid of?  So be bold.  Be daring.  Take risks with your art!  Use new materials.  Put on music and paint what it makes you feel.  Try a landscape if you do portraits.  Let go.  Or tighten up.  Be yourself, or paint like someone else. Do it in -gasp- in public! Use your art to enhance your life.  Take risks with it.  If you cant take risks with your art, where can you? In my life, the purpose of my art varies. One thing my art does is bring adventure.  It enhances my life as I learn to look at life differently, through the eyes of an artist and I can take art with me everywhere.  From looking at light and shadow differently, to sketching on location.  Life is art and art is life.  Take it with you wherever you go--even if its  just a penciled sketch on a napkin in the airport!! 

So, get in the studio. Kick fear to the curb. Start small.  Do what you love and take risks!  Here are three paintings using those very principles. I set up my studio, silenced the voices that keep me from painting, got out some scrap paper and made a few 6x4 boxes and painted something I love!  I've never done a crocus to my liking, and these still aren't.  The first is loose and free.  I like it, but its not my vision.  The next one is more controlled. Its not my vision either. The final photo is the same painting with pastels added.  I had nothing to lose and decided to take a risk so I brought out the pastels and added some here and there. Still not crazy about it , but the idea is, I painted three small paintings and no one was injured in the process! (you can try this at home!) I keep at it and I've learned that eventually, if I keep after it, I will capture its essence in the way I envision.  

I hope this helps a few of you get in the studio.  One more thing I might add here.  The studio can be a lonely place.  Sometimes we need the encouragement of people who are like us! That strange breed called ARTISTS! They understand you! Take a class or join a club.  Find some friends and meet to paint.  But whatever you do, MAKE ART!!

Happy Painting!