I have a secret to tell you: It’s really, really hard for me to get into the studio to start painting. I know many of you who read this blog are artists at different stages (or right on the cusp of beginning for the first time or maybe starting again). Those of you who are fairly new to it (and even some of you who aren’t) may believe it’s only difficult for YOU to begin. But that’s not true. It’s hard for me, too, and I’m pretty convinced from talking with my other artist friends that it’s hard for just about everybody.
No matter what my painting experience was the day before, even if I left the studio inspired and in a good place on a piece, it’s the same every morning: I drag my feet and do everything under the sun to justify not getting in there—vacuuming, dusting, laundry…you know, RESPONSIBLE stuff. This is true and has been forever but I’m not sure why. I think it’s fear.
I believe most of us are afraid to make art. That’s a sweeping generalization, I realize, but it just seems to be the case for everybody I talk with about it–my professional artist friends, my students and me. There’s a great quote from Gene Fowler, journalist and author, that sort of sums this up, I think. He says, “Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.” Yeah. Been there. Or, here’s another of my favorites by Stephen De Staebler, sculptor, “Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.” Yes, indeedy.
So you get the drift. You are not alone. For whatever reason, it seems to be difficult for we human beings to get to our art. I think it’s one of the reasons art is so precious. Maybe I’ll address this issue of art and fear in another post (by the way, there’s a great book by that name, Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, that I highly recommend if you’re interested) but today I want to talk about GETTING to our art.
The nature of my artist’s life up here on the High Road is that I sit a gallery from approximately June through October. I paint, some, while I’m doing this, but painting in a public place is very different from working in the privacy of my home studio. So, the fact is, I do most of my “serious” painting in these winter months. That means there’s been something of a lag time, a time of not painting, and that makes it ESPECIALLY hard for me to begin again. I’m not just starting another day, I haven’t deeply painted for many months, and now I’m preparing to start again. Yikes. If you think the dusting impulse is big on a day-to-day basis, just think what it’s like now!
So, I’ve learned to be gentle with myself when I’m in this transition. I tend to avoid people who continually ask, “So are you painting yet?” and I do nice things for myself—I eat well, rest and take lots of walks. And then, one day, I begin. That’s where I am right now. I am almost ready to take the plunge. Traditionally, my animals have been my support system and, this year, along with their continued efforts, I want to invite you into the studio with me.
I’m going to write about getting back to it because I know that will inspire me and I hope it will move you to action as well. So, to kick off this season of painting I offer some photos by my friend, Kevin Hulett, of a previous year’s beginnings. Here’s to getting started! Pick up those brushes, dust off your artist and let’s get going.