Friday, November 12, 2010
The Dryness Of The Well
Having read a few of the extremely rare Artists blogs out there, I've noticed a recurring theme: Artist Block. You know what I'm talking about: you just don't seem satisfied with any of your paintings, and you don't know why. You want to paint, but yet you can't figure out what you want to paint. And when you do paint, you have no idea what you want it to look like. It's an affliction that hits 100% of us at one time or another, and along with my fellow blog-ist, it's one I'm suffering through myself.
For the past twenty-seven years, I have kept a log of every painting I have ever done. Now, up until these past four years, when I started to paint full-time, I've had to punch a clock while I raised a family, paid the mortgage, and met various and sundry other responsibilities. With that in mind, I could only devote a few hours here and there to paint. So, most years I only painted five or six paintings. Some years, I would do almost a dozen. Not very many paintings, to be sure, but it was all I could do. However, sprinkled in those somewhat productive years were the occasional year when I didn't paint anything at all. That's right--zero. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. What the hell happened?
I have a theory. You see, I believe that us artistic types do not have an unlimited supply of creativity. But what creativity we posses is stored in us, kind of like a battery or a well. Every painting we do taps into that creativity and drains a little bit of it. When that well runs dry after so many paintings, our creativity dries up. What happens next is we wander around lost, despairing that we will never paint another good painting again. We still paint, though. One bad painting after another. Oh, sure--we think we know exactly what we want to do when we're far away from our painting. Then, we rush to it, firm in our conviction we know what we want. But as soon as we put a brush stroke on it, we stop...muddled, befuddled, confused, back to square one. Sound familiar? Those blank years in my painting past were just like that.
So what happens next? The good news is that it's not a permanent condition. For me, something would spark my desire again, and off I'd go like I never stopped. Actually, after having those spells, I found that I actually had reached a higher plateau. Some of my best paintings were done shortly after I snapped out of my fugue. In short, the well re-filled. I have noticed my dry spells are farther apart now than when I first started to paint. I think the more you create, the deeper you dig your well, so it takes longer to drain. Right now, though, I'm hoping the waters of creativity fills my artistic well quickly, because I'm tired of hauling up pails of dirt!