Monday, March 14, 2011

When You Hit a Slump

No Regular Office Hours

It happens to all of us at some point. For whatever reason, we just hit a slump. We are uninspired, frustrated,
distracted, tired, sick, anxious.... any combination of those things can hit us, and it seems like we woke up one morning and just forgot how to paint. Or worse, we wake up for days, weeks, or even months, in a row, and face the same sort of doldrums.
I guess there usually IS a reason.  For me, it most often happens when I have other things on my mind - family concerns, money concerns, health concerns... and these sap my creative energy and there;s just nothing left over to create art.  If this is the case with you, if you're there now, my advise is: 
1.Be kind to yourself.
Take some time to yourself and try to sort out what might really be on your mind.  If you can name it, then you can begin to deal with it.  And then, deal with it if you can.  If it is something you absolutely cannot change, then come to grips with THAT notion, and decide how you will handle it going forward.
2. Try to find the joy in your painting again.
Sometimes I get caught up in the need to produce. That's a real need for those of trying to make a living through our art.It's legitimate. But  that pressure can take a toll.. At least it does for me.  So sometimes I need to just paint something JUST FOR FUN.  Paint something that you want to paint. Forget if it might be something somebody might want to buy. Paint what interests you, and maybe even think of it as just a study, or practice, or whatever.. Take all the pressure off and just do it for pure enjoyment.

I've been in a little bit of a slump lately, which is of course why I am writing this post.  I've got several shows I NEED to paint for. I really can't afford to be in a slump. But, here I am. This time, I can't seem to settle on subject matter, or what I start seems to just fall short... I've had several scrapers lately.  So I took my own advise.  I think I have a handle on what has been bothering me, and then I put away the lousy starts I've made, and found something that just interested me and painted it for fun.  I took all pressure off myself.
I had this photo of this fisherman in my reference files, and I just liked the light, and the color.  It flew off my brush because I was having fun.  I don't really care if nobody likes it, I liked painting it.
I feel better, and a little refreshed, and maybe I can start tackling the things I HAVE to paint.  If not, then maybe I'll do something else just for fun. Who knows? That might be the winner I've been aiming for.

I'd love to hear from all of you too. What do YOU do when you hit a slump?  What works for you?


Judy P. said...

It's a beautiful painting Deb! Wow, to get out of a slump I usually read blogs like yours, to inspire me to take another step out of my funk. The only thing I can be sure of is that if I keep practicing I will improve; but as to how good I will ever become I can't think too much about. It would make me too anxious.
I guess I don't have any good advice for you, except that you have been through so much recently, plus you have moved yourself across country, that I hope you do give yourself a break. As a athlete I'll bet you are tired of waiting to heal, and just want to hit the ground running! Please know though that your talent shows in your work always, even when it's for your own fun!

Deb said...

Thanks, Judy. I look through alot of blogs too. and since my copy of Plein Air Magazine FINALLY arrived (about 3 weeks late) maybe I'll find some inspiration there too!
Hope I can get some real work done today!

Nancy said...

Hi Deb... Glad your back !
Hope all is well and you've settled in comfortably. What a great subject to chat about.
I to "hit a slump" for the very reasons you've listed. As Judy P. mentioned, I to read blogs like yours looking for inspiration, different ideas and possible solutions on getting back on "that path" of fresh ideas and enlightenment. I think you've found it with your most recent painting, I think your right,the key is "having fun". Could you be maybe just a little homesick too?
What is the story behind that painting ??? The gentleman looks like a New England fisherman anticipating his day on the water, it's a lovely piece and maybe along with the fun a little therapy as well, for whatever reason it looks like your on the right path. Best wishes.