Sunday, 15 April 2018

Spring Growth: That Time When Art was Just Like Life

This picture sums up my life right now.  I paint as much as possible, which is at least three or four hours a day and often there is a glass of wine involved. 

There is a practice in selfishness going on here.  Painting is my passion and blogging is definitely taking a back seat.  Reading blogs is just not happening at the moment and I do miss my favourite bloggers.  I feel guilt for not visiting them and seeing how they are doing, cheering them on in life.  Of course I feel guilt about many things, just reading my blog will tell you that.  

I also feel some degree of nervousness, worry, or anxiety most of the time.   Lately it's a fear that after each painting I complete successfully I will never be able to do it again.  I will always look at a painting and see something that could be fixed just a little, would look better in a different colour and sometimes I see things that show up in photos which don't appear obvious in real life. 

Of course, success is subjective and I tend not to even view them as successes for very long.  I can't tell you how often I re-paint, touch up and even completely change paintings I've done in the past.  Any painting not sold and still in my home is fair game because they are never perfect and I am always viewing them critically.  In some ways this is good.  It's a way to grow.  Old paintings exhibiting less skill or less confidence mock me.  Asserting on this blog that they are 'finished' doesn't actually solve this problem.  

How does one know when to leave well enough alone?  Perhaps one doesn't.  Perhaps it's always a gamble, a risk, a chance to learn from mistakes.  Growth.  It's necessary to life and a persistent theme in Spring.

I am not always the best judge of which paintings are successful.  Or perhaps that is better phrased as 'people see and value different things'.  Sometimes a painting I am not crazy about is well liked by others. Probably when one is so intimately involved it's harder to judge the impact of the image.  I see my paintings as a product of how difficult or easy they were for me, how much effort and materials went into it.  I see the brushstrokes that were accidental, the ones that didn't quite give the effect I was aiming for as well as the ones that did.  I see images I painted with little thought and don't feel moved by but whether or not they move someone else is out of my control.

I've re-painted this bowl of fruit many times and shown it on this blog a few times as well.  It seems to be perpetually unfinished even when I try to declare it complete.  I am working on it again, having changed the background ( wall ) colour several times this week not happy with any of them,  I have explored how much shadow I want, or whether I want to go more expressionist in style and forget about shadows.  I have found that subtle effects I've painted don't show in photos and worried about how important ( or not ) that is.  Sometimes I think it's mainly about the subject-I am not moved by an image of a bowl of fruit so this painting is a playground for me.  I just keep dabbing at it whenever I get a new idea but I never feel good about it.  It sits there, mocking me, saying "I am boring and it's your fault."

Maybe I should walk away from it.  Maybe I should re-do it forever.  I see wrong things in everything I paint.  Probably I need to spend more time looking at the right things.

Probably I will never know what I 'should' do.  I will just keep doing what I do and hopefully keep growing.


  1. It looks to me like you're in the zone, your paintings look amazingly beautiful so whatever you're doing, just keep doing it. Don't worry about blogs, you can always come back to them. I'm sure most bloggers understand that. We can't be super social all the time and constantly comment and etc. Really, these paintings look fantastic.

    I always enjoy reading your reflections on art. Yesterday my art teacher told me to stop correcting my painting. Unless you have a clear idea of what you want to do, don't correct it, that's what he said. It is certainly hard to figure out when to stop. I have a feeling I don't know what I'm doing about 99 percent of the time. No matter of how inspired I feel, or how much painting I actually do, I always feel a great sense of uncertainty. Maybe it is normal to feel that way. Art is hard.

    1. I should not be operating this laptop while tired. I very nearly deleted your comment while trying to reply! Thank you for your kind and always thoughtful comments. I really do appreciate them.

      As I encounter other artists online and read what they have to say about their experiences, I get the idea that many if not most artists feel some degree of uncertainty. Most of us don't feel good enough. As with anything we can always find others who are further ahead in the journey and it's dangerous to compare. My sense of satisfaction tends to be fleeting. I will feel good about a successful painting for a day or two and then feel panic, certain that I am a fraud and that I cannot repeat my success. Also, I think it is normal not to love everything we produce, but we can view everything as a learning experience and that has huge value! Art is hard. Life is hard. But I aim to find joy in both. :-) xoxo

  2. Even the greatest artists in history seem to continue painting the same painting over and over again in some cases, I think it must be the nature of the beast? I admit I have no understanding of the subjecy, but I love your use of colour especially! Do what makes you happy, ig blogging feels like a chore to participate in then don't! ;-) I have taken a bit of a breather from it too :-) x

    1. Steff! I've been thinking about you and meaning to visit. Blogging isn't a chore as I always have thoughts I need to release. Reading other blogs and commenting seems to get me bogged down though. There are so many blogs I like and bloggers I want to connect with and I can't keep up. So happy you stopped by! Hope you are well. xoxo


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