nina colors

Hitting the wall

Posted on: September 15, 2009

a plateau is a bummer…. for an artist, anyway.

I can’t explain a plateau (this is the first time it’s happened), but it seems to be a kind of loss of balance in the overall progress of learning. Learning seems to work like this; there is usually a kind of breakthrough painting that seems to pull techniques together in a new way, as a harmonious combination of skills. It’s great when it happens, and I’ll do a few in that style — but then what?

The next step has to be either to add another skill to the mix, or change how the skills are applied, or apply the skills to a new subject or motif. all these things usually disrupt the balance between the skills and the painting, which makes the painting process either very exciting or less satisfactory.

Until I find an effective balance,  I’m back at the beginning, and can’t change the balance without feeling like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

Of course i could keep doing the same painting in the same way, over and over (as many professional artists do for a living), but I’d be bored out of my gourd.

So I try something new, and that disrupts the harmony, and my flow goes downhill.

Now comes the gotcha part: I can’t just go back to painting exactly the way I did before,  so I’m back to trial and error, trying to gain a new balance, trying to find a new relationship.

It seems like the plateau is actually a searching time. I am trying to do things I can’t yet do, trying different combinations of effects, media, colors, visual codes or brush styles, the way chess players work out new combinations … trial and error, many variations, patient analysis of why it doesn’t work.  But not so much analysis that I can’t get out of my head.

This too shall pass  🙂  Watch this space!

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6 Responses to "Hitting the wall"

It’s a horrible feeling sometimes — that ‘stuck-ness’. Have you tried looking at the Artist’s Way method (Julia Cameron) ? You might have a look at Michael Nobbs blog too (just Google him and you’ll find his site). He’s an artist who has M.E. who writes and Twitters a lot about ways to sustain creativity and move beyond blocks. At least your writing again ;0)

I’ve never been able to appreciate Julia Cameron the way others do, but I will definitely check out Michael Nobbs — thanks.

You have described my life.

I haven’t been checking my RSS reader or following blogs for a few weeks, so I’m just catching up with yours.

I feel like this with my writing sometimes too….hope that your time of stillness and “stuckness” births a beautiful “baby” for you.

Enjoy the journey if you can. Sometimes I find looking at other people’s work a catalyst. Sometimes it just compounds the stuckness.

I know searching for the answer doesn’t always yield one. It finds me. But then sometimes just moving the pen or the paintbrush, whilst it may start being mechanical and clunky, can sometimes allow the flow to start again.

And of course I’m going to be around to see what happens next.

I know that some of this is “just get your butt in the chair and do it”. Maybe that will be easier once the weather gets cold. Right now,all I want to do is walk by the Lake:-)

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