I love painting. Okay love may be too strong of a word, but it's right there at the top of my list for activities that give me purpose. Yes there are days when I have to talk myself into entering the studio, but within a few minutes I'm hooked into the process and totally engaged. Having said that, after twenty plus years, the love or passion has changed. The reason for painting has changed too. Like a good marriage, or a fine wine, time and maturity has made me a different painter.
What does this change look like? Initially I found myself in a place that felt wanting and not enjoying the process. It felt like a job. I wanted to regain the passion that I wasn't getting but once enjoyed. Does this sound like marriage? It took time to identify the real issue with these feelings and to come up with a plan to make the necessary changes. For my art to have renewed meaning and to excite me I had to get out of my comfort zone and explore new possibilities. Mind you I'm in the process and it is still difficult, but with conscious effort I am making progress.
So what was this process? First, I have to paint for a different purpose. The old purpose doesn’t work for me anymore. The big one is to not render. Making something look exactly like what I was seeing is now not a goal. The next purpose is to paint authentically and not to please every request. Yes, like all of us I want to have clients that want my work, but at what price? That one I'm still struggling with but trust that we, the galleries and buyers, will be happy.
How am I going to get there without relapsing? There is no AA for artist that I know of so I had to create my own AA-Artists Anonymous. So far it's a group of one and I meet with myself every day. It's not a 12 step program but it does have steps and there is no sponsor except my husband.
My Recovery Program
- Quiet my environment, meaning Remove-the-Static of the world; the news, Facebook, and all negative influences as much as possible. I can't do it all, all day so I have set aside time each morning for reflection and putting my steps into practice.
- Writing in a Discovery Journal. Many years ago I practiced this habit and it was extremely beneficial to identify what I think and believe. All topics are on the table, but art is the main focus and what I have to say with my art. That's a biggie.
- Identify my strengths and weaknesses. This is also done during this morning period of time. What skills are in my tool box and which areas do I need to work on. That gives me a direction for goal setting and a plan for self improvement.
- Give myself permission to experiment with new techniques and/or ideas. This goes along nicely with number three.
- Write a Plan of Action; set goal for myself. An easy way to write good goals is to remember the anachronism SMART; S=specific, M=measurable, *A=action steps, R=relevant, T=time bound. *I have substituted action steps for “achievable” because I think it’s more specific.
- Limit viewing images of other artist’s work. I have viewed so many so often on a daily basis that it’s ridiculous! In fact my goal is to not look at images of artist works dead or alive. I confess that I am a junkie with regards to this one! I can spend countless hours on Facebook, the Internet, and my art magazines just looking at images of paintings by other artist all in the name of “art education.” I’ve gone cold-turkey here, but it's a one day at a time struggle.
- Establish a routine; a ritual, or form of meditation. The ritual is essential to bringing forth a sense of purpose and passion!
If you have any thoughts, questions, or experiences in this area, I would love to hear from you. E-mail me at Artist@dbelmquist.com or post a comment on my blog at http://dbelmquist.blogspot.com
Update: I have been on this journey for a few weeks now and have made some progress that includes a profound understanding as it relates to the direction that I want to take my art. I will post this week some of this progress.