The weather turned grey and rainy and the desire to go for a big walk in the morning to "get the ya-ya's out" diminished. The weather was a perfect mirror for my mood and general disposition. News from friends and family has been somewhat dismal this past week and has sent me into a funk. It has certainly affected the work.
I found myself struggling with a single canvass for hours and days on end.
I had an idea of what I wanted to paint, and yet - every brush-stroke seemed to make things worse. The painting became a physical manifestation of my mood. It's difficult to express, other than to say - it just wasn't "feeling right".
It got to the point where I simply wasn't painting... I had hit the wall.
In an attempt to shake things up - I took myself for an "artist's date" - which is something I learned about while doing "the Artist's Way" a few years ago. Julia Cameron wrote an excellent book/program which I had the pleasure of working on while sequestered in a cabin in B.C. a few years ago. One of the exercises was to take your "artist" for a date once a week - the goal being to fill up the well as it were. I've found this to be very helpful over the years, and it's a practice I tend to turn to when feeling at War in my art.
My "date" was to visit a few of the galleries which adorn the neighbourhood. I was desperate to get unstuck.
I met an artist on my journey and we discussed the issue of being "stuck". She seemed quite convinced that every artist struggles with this.
"I can fill up an entire day with preparation to paint, and by the time I'm prepared, I'm so tired that the day is gone..."
"I guess the thing to do is just start before you're ready. I'm always surprised by what comes out when I do."
It's actually a piece of advice I heard from my former Clown teachers, John Turner and Mike Kennard. "Go before you're ready".
It's also something I've heard as applied to Improvisation. Funny how all these arts share a similar vein.
I shared my feelings of frustration with my dear friend, Sean Bowie - who is currently performing his one-man show, "Genuis" here in Portland.
His advice: "You're a painter now. So just fucking get painting".
And that's really the only platitude I need today.