|I remind myself that even artistic legends like Michelangelo struggled. When he did the Sistine ceiling in
fresco, a medium he wasn't familiar with, the first few sessions were stressful and trying for the artist.
But he persevered and created one of the wonders of the art world.
It's okay. Breathe. Stay calm. Do. Not. Panic. It happens to
all of us—a creative breaking point in our art that threatens to push us into a
tailspin. When I was in school, this was my routine: I would try so hard to
push it, to make something happen. Then I'd get derailed, and then came the
frustration and even anger. I would get down on myself and just mope around for
a while. Not fun!
But those kinds of episodes happen to me less and less now
because I do a few things differently that I want to share with you:
||Edvard Munch channeled his psychological anxiety and pessimism into
powerful, moving artworks (Ashes, 1894, oil on canvas).
I acknowledge that not every studio session is going to be a
brilliant, amazing success that will leave me with a cheery smile on my face.
The reality is that it can be really tough in there, right? If I feel like my
expectations aren't matching what I am accomplishing with my work, I make an
effort to set reachable goals so I'm not disheartened. For example, I'll focus
on working without stopping for an hour. No looking back on what I've done or
reworking, just working. At the end of that time, I'll usually have one or two ideas
that I can build on, and that is really satisfying.
I take off the blinders and try to honestly assess what is
going on. If I keep stumbling over something, I ask myself—what's in my way? If
something isn't working, I don't want to ignore it. There's no shame in
retracing our steps to see what has tripped us up. Art is not a one-way street.
You can go back and forth dozens of times until you are happy with your
progress. I know I have!
I give myself permission to start over. I used to be the
type that had to see things through to the end, and to a point I still am. But
I also see the value in letting go in order to refocus myself. If something
isn't working, I'm not going to let one painting or drawing sour my whole
creative pursuit. If I want to put something aside, I do it. You should too!
most importantly, I know how to get back into the right
mindset—inspiration and artistic guidance. That means looking at art
that excites me and studying the techniques of the master artists I so
admire. I also reach for new resources like Daniel Greene's collection of expert art DVDs.
He explores color, and portraiture in pastel, oil, and drawing. Each
one of these had me itching to start working by the end of them. Such
art guides spur me on and enlighten me when I reach a crisis point. I
hope they do the same for you. Enjoy!
P.S. Have you had an art breakdown? What did you do to get
back into the right artistic mindset? Leave a comment and let me know.