Not Painting

7 May 2012

The Norwegian Artist and I have a friend who specializes in painting small pet animals...that is, when he paints.

While to paint regularly, you don't need a huge space, you'll find yourself happiest with a designated one. On the Horizon by Steve Henderson, 24 x 30, oil painting, also available as a limited edition signed print.
While to paint regularly, you don't need a huge space, you'll find yourself happiest with
a designated one. On the Horizon by Steve Henderson, 24 x 30, oil painting, also
available as a limited edition signed print.
Most of the time, our friend is thinking about painting, or castigating himself for not painting enough, or remodeling the garage studio so that it's easier for him to paint, or reading about painting, or attending art group meetings and talking with colleagues about how challenging it is to get in the mood to paint.

He rarely paints.

Don't get me wrong, there's always a reason. Like many artists who are not yet, or maybe never want to be, making a full time living with their art, our friend is tired at the end of the work day, and by the time he sets up his work area so that he can continue where he left off three weeks ago, it's time to put it all away again.

What to do? Do whatever you must to make painting as effortless as possible, because the more you do it, the easier it gets.

1)      While it's unrealistic to expect to paint every day, do shoot for more than twice a week.

2)      Set aside a designated space that you don't have to dismantle and re-build each time you work.

3)      Schedule in the time - it doesn't have to be a four-hour session, because that's so daunting you'll do anything to avoid even starting. One hour, focused, is better than four, puttering.

4)      Allow yourself to make mistakes and experiment, freeing yourself from the obligation to produce a saleable work every time.

5)      Recognize that you can't do everything, and in order to make the time for painting, something else may have to go.

Habits can be bad things or good, but the reasons they become habits is because we do them so often, they become natural to us. Painting or not painting can become habit. It all depends on you...


Carolyn Henderson is the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a weekly columnist for Fine Art News, a division of Canvoo, and writes a lifestyle column, Middle Aged Plague, that is published online and in print newspapers throughout the country.

Describing herself as "small, insignificant, and ordinary," Carolyn writes for and about normal, everyday people, who are not small and insignificant at all.


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annellis1 wrote
on 12 May 2012 7:08 AM

Interesting to think I am not the only one. This happened to me when my husband became ill and I had to devote alot of time to his care. He recupperated and I can't get into the swing of it again.

on 12 May 2012 7:48 AM

I am having the same problem. I am recuperating after chemotherapy and I have not being able to get back into painting. I have attended a life drawing class to get me motivated and it has got me sketching again. Next step painting........

jbqdgq wrote
on 12 May 2012 9:11 AM

Number 2. I think this is most important. My painting place is always set up,not very big but good enough that I can paint comfortably.

chris greene wrote
on 12 May 2012 9:36 AM

Life will always intervene and artists have to be flexible enough to allow for periods of time when It's just too hard to work. I do think that eventially we get back if we feel the spirit within us. It is important to stay connected to other artists and belong to art groups as well as exhibit frequently. It's essential to devote a room in your home as a studio.

   Chris Greene

Pippagilbert wrote
on 12 May 2012 10:12 AM

Thanks for the tips! This is always my problem, but now that summer has come painting more is one of my resolutions.

freedomdove wrote
on 12 May 2012 8:35 PM

I too have had a real hard time getting back into the swing of things with painting. I was being taught to paint by the artist Jonny Kostoff and had to give it up to run my now deceased husband's business office. Since then I have trouble getting back into the full swing of painting every day and disciplining myself to practice every day. But this is where being stubborn will pay off I hope because I will not give up. Good to hear from others that have had the same situation. God Bless and Happy Mother's Day to all mothers for tomorrow.

doncrochet wrote
on 13 May 2012 2:06 PM

My last painting was finished in 1970 in Vietnam.  How's that for procrastination? I had good reasons for not getting back into it, enough said.

Last month I signed up for an oil painting class. I've finished two paintings and two more almost finished. My point for this posting is: I AM TOTALLY CONSUMED BY THE ACTIVITY AND I'M HAPPIER NOW THEN I'VE BEEN FOR YEARS. BTW: I'm 71 now, so it's never too late.

leasbeads wrote
on 14 May 2012 10:56 AM

I had foot surgery 1.5 years ago, and started making beaded jewelry, since I could do that sitting down. I have been wanting to get back to painting ever since, but the jewelry making is something I can do sitting with my husband in front of the TV at night, unlike painting. But now I have 3 things calling on my time--my paying job, the jewelry making, and painting. And that doesn't include family and social obligations, or household chores. I took a workshop last fall, hoping that it would get me back into painting, but it was more discouraging than helpful, so that didn't work. If I could discipline myself into working for an hour and then stopping, that might help. I think I'll try resolving to do that at least twice a week...

tonyconner wrote
on 29 Dec 2013 10:15 AM

I've experienced this problem in the past. My solution is to PAINT SOMETHING EVERY DAY!  Even if the "something" is a work that consists only of some abstract washes of color (I'm a watercolorist) or dabs of color placed randomly on the paper.  During trying or busy times it can take effort but I have found the process of picking up the brush and playing with colors and shapes is freeing for the mind. In addition, those small abstract works often serve as preliminary thumbnail sketches that suggest both compositional arrangements and color palettes that can be used for finished works.  In addition, I save these "doodles" in a small portfolio for future reference.    

AndyMay wrote
on 9 Jun 2014 8:33 AM

When I left art school freshman year 50 years ago, my color teacher advised me to sketch everyday.  They say you can become an expert in anything if you spend 10,000 hours at it.  Imagine where I'd be if I had followed that advice.   We women don't always put ourselves at the top of our priority list.  The family, the housework and other obligations come first or we feel guilty.  I now schedule some painting with a couple of groups to get me going.