Monday 23 November 2009

The highs and lows of an artist's life - a creative roller coaster

I am a professional landscape painter and I want to use this blog to share with others my experience of this work. The blog will be a record of the daily highs and lows that I find go with the territory and which I find many artists share. I will look at the times when the creative 'flow' is present and explore ways of dealing with the creative 'blocks' when at worst I find myself incapable of tackling the fear of the fresh blank canvas. (The ingenuity of my procrastination at times like this is quite remarkable!) I will also write about the pieces that I am currently working on and look at what I feel works or does not in each.

In recent months I have experienced a black hole in my creative process. It followed on the heels of writing,editing and illustrating a children's book which was published this autumn in the UK. That was a 'first' for me and took me right away from the daily process of working on a painting in my studio. The black hole brought with it a sense of despair that left me simply incapable of producing anything that I felt was remotely worthwhile. Not for the first time I began to question my validity as an artist and what point I was trying to make. What had my work got to say that was of any value at all? Was I just painting pretty pictures in order to sell them? Why did every mark I made on the canvas appear tentative and at worse dismally amateur? I read endless material on the subject of the creative block. Intelligent books, helpful blogs, etc. Nothing seemed to work until an artist friend of mine said "I paint because it makes me feel better!" Wow! How simple!

When I first started painting full time in 2005, it was with the intention of taking time off for 6 months to see if I could get anywhere with it. Prior to that, raising a daughter necessitated a career that would pay the bills and an appreciation that unless you are incredibly lucky as a painter, bill paying will always be difficult! 6 months passed and I gave myself permission to take another 6 months and so on. Several years and a good number of successful exhibitions later and I am still at it. You can see the results on my web site

I am attaching the piece that I am currently working on. The subject is the Dorset Coast path at Durdle Door. Finding a different approach to painting the sea is proving a challenge but I am pleased with what has emerged so far and now need to focus on where it will go next - specifically in terms of the sky and the tones and textures of the land which needs to be adjusted. I also have to sort out the foreground. If you look at my web site you will see that my work has always been very vibrant. I love colour - it gives me a high - part of that 'feeling better' that my friend referred to. However, I am attempting to find a slightly more muted voice at the moment.

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