For well over a year I spent my studio time experimenting with a vast array of art mediums/styles. I have played around with watercolour, paper cutting/sculpture, cardboard sculpture, paper mache, and embroidery. I have experimented with watercolour on wood, and watercolour on canvas. Now, after all that varied creative output, I find myself in a very strange place as an artist. I have never felt this before! I suppose it's a form of creative block. It has left me feeling rather frustrated, as I have a well of creative energy, thoughts and concepts, but feel I currently lack the ability or 'know-how' to get it out in a visual way.
Having discussed this with a couple of fellow artists, and having read some on-line material addressing this common situation that other artists find themselves in, I finally have a plan. First of all, I'm going to lay-low online for a while. I'm also going to spend more time in my studio. Even if its just for 30 minutes a day. I'm realizing that until now, I haven't worked hard at the 'process' of art. I want to spend much more time sketching out ideas, and researching methods. I need to be more mindful of the process, rather than being focused on the end-result. I plan on using a lot of paper, and going through many canvases as I work through this creative block. I recently discussed this with one of my art students. She said that when she faces this dilemma, she just keeps making "crappy art" until eventually something turns out right. This made me laugh! Its so true. I have a specific concept of what I want to create visually, but it may take lots of trying, and trying again, to get to where I want to go.
Well I'm off to spend my last hour of the day (before I have to pick up the kids at school) in my studio now with a cup of tea and some chocolate.
Over the last few weeks I've been playing around with painting watercolour on a canvas; not the best mix of medium and 'ground'! If you have tried painting on canvas before with watercolour paint you will know what I mean - there is a reason why paper is the choice ground for watercolour paint. And yet, I was curious to try out the canvas option anyways. I have a pile of blank canvases in my studio, all of which have been sitting silently for well over a year now. I figured it was time to paint on canvas again, and yet I'm still so interested in watercolour paint. I just let the paint drip as it wanted to. For part of the painting I laid the canvas flat, near the end I put it upright. I also tried a newer 'watercolour markers' that Winsor and Newton have put out (in raw umber). All in all it was a fun experiment - another chance to expand my artistic experience.
My Grade 10 student, Zach, working on this paper mache sculpture throughout November and part of December. It is his representation of the character 'Flash'. He did a great job!
I love it when the 'student corner' in my studio is full of artwork in progress. Most of these paintings are in the very beginning stages.
During the "Visions of Faith" art show a few weeks ago, I had a few very helpful conversations with our special guest artist, Cam Merkle. He really encouraged me to enjoy the process... not to be overly focused on the end-result. What brought on this conversation was one of my little comments, in regards to the fact that he spends 2-3 years on average per art piece (he does incredible bird carvings). I remarked, "I wouldn't have the patience for that!". Cam wisely replied that you don't need patience to do something that you love.
With this in mind, I thought about my "process". I'm quick to get at the end result... and can narrow in on that too much I suppose. So, as I gear up for the paintings I plan to work on this fall and winter, I decided to take my time and do a little 'study', with watercolour and ink. The subject's photo was taken with my husband's motion-sensored trail camera. I'm planning on using it as a subject this fall sometime.
I always look forward to lessons with Megan. Besides being so sweet and sincere, Megan is serious about art. In an earlier blog I mentioned the black and white self-portraits that some of my students have been working on (using the "grisaille" method). Megan began her grisaille self-portrait painting back in winter sometime, and finished glazing the colour on it in the middle of the summer. It was a long process, and a challenge... for both of us! I have to admit (as I did to Megan) I was nervous about using her as my 'guinea pig' for this classical approach to portraiture.
However, it turned out beautifully:
For Vacation Bible School at my Church this summer I was asked to paint a 5x5 ft round globe for the kids. It was built by the very talented Larry Wiebe. I enlisted the help of my two little girls (who were actually very helpful painting the first coat of gesso!), and my art student Rachel (to help paint the water). It was a fun project.
I was thinking during those days of painting about how some art lasts forever (i.e. Rembrandt or Monet), and some art is just temporary (sand castles, ice sculptures...). This globe is certainly temporary - unless someone finds it a home after next week. However, knowing that didn't discourage me from enjoying the process of painting it, or from wanting to put a little extra time into it.
With newfound motivation this last month I have been finally resurrecting my flower gardens. This is what I began with:
And this is where it is at now:
Working in this garden has helped me understand further how important, valuable and enjoyable the process is. This is the same with working on any piece of art. There is always the element of change, re-working shapes, colours, and details. Instead of feeling frustrated or impatient with the process, this stage can be accepted and even embraced as a time to learn, grow, and experiment.
I live in Southern Ontario on a farm with my husband, Dennis, and our two daughters. Painting out of my studio on our farm allows me to stay close to my family and to be surrounded by the natural landscape that continues to influence my work.