Here are three paintings, uniquely different, that I’d like to share with you. You won’t see it here, but these three paintings remind me of a very low time in my creative life. I was discouraged and felt the well was dry. There were several paintings sitting around the studio for months, only partially completed. The longer they sat the more the frustration built and the larger the hole became. I didn’t know what to do, so I’d just start a new painting, only to put it aside to sit with the others. I finally had to face all these unfinished paintings and force myself to press forward and actually complete something. These were the three paintings I decided to “finish”. I say “finish”, because when you’re feeling like that, you’re never sure if they’re “finished” or not.
Here are the color studies for the three paintings. All are 4.5″x 6″, oil on archival paper.
I’m sure you’ve all experienced what I’m talking about. It got me thinking, so I began asking other artists, when interviewed for this blog, what they do when they become discouraged and feel that the well is dry. I would have done well to follow their example.
John McCartin: Plein air painting or charcoal drawing on the side of the road revitalizes me. Changing from landscape to still life or even changing mediums is a great help. Also browsing the work of great artists (past and present) can be very stimulating.
Douglas Fryer: Work
Denise Mahlke: The best thing for me is to do something different for a while, even if it is not art-making; a long walk, gardening, going to a museum, etc. Or I will switch from pastel to oil or draw instead of paint, or read and study instead of drawing. Coping the Masters from a book or online image is also helpful. All of these things can spark creativity and new ideas.
Dianne Massey Dunbar: When I am discouraged, I keep showing up at the easel. That is all I can do. Keep on suiting up and showing up and painting.
Debra Joy Groesser: Those are times when I will read art books, study, clean the studio, go for a long drive, work outside in my garden or go spend time with my children and grandchildren.
Charles Warren Mundy: The first and most important question you need to ask yourself is “Why is the well dry?” The second question is “Would it be more productive to work through this or take a break and get a fresh start?”
David Gray: I keep painting. Contemplate. Journal. Hang out with artist friends. Go to a museum if I have the opportunity. Perhaps experiment with a different medium. Above all, keep painting. One has to be in motion in order to get anywhere.
“The painter is an artist. That is to say he has something he wants to communicate concerning the subject of the picture he has painted. He communicates this by means of his art, using the medium art, that is by means of drawing, composition and color. He has to tell the spectator what he felt about the subject, what qualities in the subject interested him, the nature and depth of these feelings and so on. And he has to be able to tell these things so clearly that the spectator will be able to understand, or at least to feel an echo of the painter’s emotions”.
(From a very old, The Artist, magazine. Author unknown)
John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE