Are you an artist or writer and you’re stuck with a project or maybe just not in the mood to work on it? Don’t beat yourself up over it. It happens to all of us. The thing about creativity is, I can’t force it. I guess there are writers or visual artists that can push through a block but I’m the type to put the project down until a better time.
It can help creativity if you simplify your life. It takes a certain mental state like alpha brain waves or something for an artist to be in the groove, in the zone. If you have a job, family to care for, responsibilities etc. that’s enough to block the right brain waves. Time spent alone can help reset your brain to be creative.
Your art is for your enjoyment. If you’re not enjoying it you should take a break and do something else. Just because you are creative doesn’t mean you owe the world your creativity. Unless you think the world owes you. In that case maybe you do owe the world. But as for me, I don’t owe the world. I wouldn’t like to feel “driven” like some artists feel. For me that would be an unbalanced mental state. And when I think about the meaning of “driven” I can’t relate metaphorically. I’m in control of my car. I’m the driver. I leave when I’m ready to go.
It doesn’t have to be something difficult, if you’re experiencing a creative block. You can goof around and amuse yourself like I do with these mono prints. There are tons of fun projects for writers too. I’ve seen things like black out poetry and some kind of games that writers can do for fun if the novel isn’t happening today. If you’re a writer you probably know more fun writing projects than I do. I know fun paint projects.
This advice is for artists that are not professional. If the art doesn’t pay the bills, who cares if it happens on any given week. If art does pay the bills, you probably know how to push through a block. If you’re an amateur like me then you’re doing art because you love it. That’s the true meaning of amateur. It’s good for me because it’s no stress. If it was a real job it would only be a short time before I want to quit. Give me a week to make someone mad by saying something stupid or someone making me mad and I’m outta there. Taking it easy on yourself leads to longevity in your art.
Sometimes I neglect everything else in life and paint for days. Other times I do things that need to be done and neglect painting. This is one joy in my amateur status. It’s not a job.
When a subject takes up most of the space on a painting the negative spaces become an important design element. The art viewer’s eye needs to find a place to rest so it doesn’t get tired and will look longer.
Making an interesting background keeps the art viewer’s attention on the painting with more contrast and texture but it’s not as bright so it recedes.
The veins in the paint let my imagination think the painting is part of nature. It’s an illusion I like to make.
I didn’t see a plaque in the garden with the name of this variety of azaleas. Maybe I overlooked it. If it was up to me to name it I’d call it Candy Cane.
I’m waiting for my paint to dry on the azalea painting before I can finish it with the last color, pink. If I put the pink on before the other paint is dry, it might lift some white or gray and that would make the pink less bright. A couple weeks ago I bought a tube of fast drying white at Jerry’s Artarama because I knew Titanium white dries slowly. When I opened the tube it was dry in the tube! And I didn’t save the receipt. bummer.
While I wait for the paint to dry on the azaleas I decided to sketch the rhododendrons which are starting to bloom. This is Inktense pencils.
There’s a real pretty path through the rhododendrons. It’s covered with moss and has a bench and spotty sunlight. I’d like to do a painting of the path but that might be a project for next year because it could be complicated and I need to figure out a good plan for it and do sketches first.
After I did the underpainting and waited for that to dry I went over this a couple more times, background, leaves, stems, and flowers. The gray is the shadows on the azaleas. At first I had a warm gray for shadows but after looking at it for a couple days I decided to make the shadows slightly darker and cool, so I put a cool gray glaze over the warm gray. It looks like neutral gray in this photo. I’m not sure if you can see the layers of paint but you can see some veins in the paint which I like making. It gives the painting more variety of brush strokes and direction in the petals.
This azalea is past blooming but I have my sketches to go by and I’m pretty sure I can finish it at home. I think it will work out with the pink looking as bright as possible. I did some color roughs. I might do another one. I’ll continue with glazing pinks next. Then it will be finished.
I wasn’t going to show it at this stage because it’s almost done, but I thought if I just post a close up of this one section it won’t spoil the surprise.
First I had to paint the flowers with white because the pinks won’t show up bright enough on the dark tinted paper since they’re semi transparent colors. Also, I couldn’t see the flowers well enough until I painted them to tell if they look like a good arrangement.
The background texture is from my modified fan brush. I wanted to make a look of pine needles on the ground
The scary part is the pinks. I mixed my colors in plein air sitting next to the azaleas and I think I have the closest pink to what it actually is, but it’s not as bright on my palette as it is in reality. Flower petals allow a little light to go through. They’re not 100% opaque because of the cell structure, if you know what I mean. The sun on the pink petals makes a brighter pink than you can buy in a tube of paint.
I need to do a color rough and see if the pink will be brighter if I use glazes of the two pinks that I have straight out of the tube.
First I need to go over this again and decide where to have shadows and where to have spotty sunlight. Then wait for that to dry before painting the pinks. I’m excited I got this far with the painting and might be able to finish it next week. It can dry this weekend. I’m going to PA.
It was beautiful outside today! sunny, cool and a nice breeze! I worked on the sandy path and sedge for a couple hours. Maybe tomorrow I can go over the background trees again. That part of it is still in the underpainting stage. I want to paint some detail of tree branches back there.
The sedge is kind of brown, gray, ochre colored. I mixed up 4 colors that were close to what I saw in nature and blobbed them in to make general areas of light and dark then I scribbled through it with my palette knife. It scribbled nicely because first I put a coat of Maroger medium on the dry underpainting, which makes it slick and wet and oily. When you paint a layer of Maroger medium on your dry underpainting or glaze and then paint color on top of the medium, that’s called “painting in the couch”. The medium couches the paint. That part was fun. I have to let the sedge grass dry for a few days before I can paint on top of it to make some sea oats and other sticklike weeds growing out of the grass.
Here’s a close up of a spot where the short grass grows out into the sandy path. You can see my palette knife scribbles through the blobs of brown, gold and gray.
Finally! some nice weather! It’s sunny and cool and calm today and I made some progress on this. The painting is going pretty fast so I hope I can finish this in another week or so. I’m anxiously awaiting the red buds to bloom for my next painting. I’ve been walking at the botanical gardens lately and the red bud trees aren’t showing buds, but that could happen real soon. Daffodils are blooming and I saw some early blooming pink trees when I was driving around.
I’m enjoying painting on paper with oils. One time saver with paper is that I’m not sanding or putting gesso on a canvas. Priming and tinting a canvas takes a few hours. Paper is more practical than canvas when you start to accumulate a lot of canvases and have limited space to store them.