Thursday, June 07, 2007

Am I Bored?

Artists don't get down to work
until the pain of working is exceeded
by the pain of not working.
-Stephen De Staebler
In the past couple of weeks I have hit some sort of creative wall, an artist's block if you will. I haven't picked up a brush for a long period of time and the thought that I can't seem to get any work done, or that maybe I never will is scaring the hell out of me. So what is the matter? Where am I going wrong?
I have come to a point where I'm starting to look at the body of work I've accomplished in the past three years and can't help feeling that it's looking empty and that it will never matter much to any one except me, or that it will never hang outside the studio walls. Have I become bored with what I do (aesthetically and/or as a craft), or is it fear that's stopping me from heading towards a new direction? Creating new work on a regular basis is a demanding task. Artists do not create out of a moment of inspiration when the angels come down from the heavens and whisper to the artist's ear sweet lullabies. Work gets done when dedication and discipline are established from the beginning. As the work evolves it pulls the artist into a place where clarity and numerous possibilities abound, and the arduous action of art making becomes an ecstatic event. Revealing moments come to fruition as the hand works away in a frantic manner trying to pull an image together from raw materials that are only compatible with the individual artist's sensitivities.
So why is it that I'm depriving myself from this creative high I thought was the only thing I was born to do? It all comes down to lack of discipline and will power. For various reasons distractions have appeared in front of me, like an apple from the Garden of Eden, and being the weak fool I am, I took a huge bite. I've spent some good memorable times in these early days of summer, but I'm starting to pay the high price for it by neglecting my work, in turn setting self loathing levels to a record high. This is not the first time that this happens. In the fall of 2001 I hit my first wall and became angry with my working style. My early still lifes became battered children as I took scissors and palette knifes to tear them from all of their stretcher bars. I was then left with a clean slate to start building on new ideas and approaches. And I must admit it felt good. This time around I will not be attacking my work since my most current paintings required from me a higher degree of craftsmanship, and I don't want to see it trashed. But having these paintings around cloud my head with doubts, they weigh me down and paralyze me as I try to think of new modes of expression. It has all become too comfortable, like a codependent relationship that slowly eats up your spirit. I'm not sure what's next and how to help myself get through this period and perhaps expedite it. All I have to do is get myself in gear an start painting no matter what the mood may be, but that's easier said than done when you feel you're being chocked by your own work.


Bob said...

It's the best time to be in New York and I certain that there are distractions. But being distracted in NY can be the best thing for an artist. New Stimuli will lead to new art. Hang in there.

Luis Colan said...

Hi Bob, thank you for that point of view. I have thought of this artistic drought as a way of taking in new stimuli. I am hoping that when I start painting again this week being away from work will make me look at things with fresh eyes. Will see what happens. Take care.

ming said...

so much esier said then done! it's great to paint everyday. But when you can't it's great to have a nice sketchbook that you can fill with distractions.

I find many of my best paintings were distrations when i was painting something else.

Luis Colan said...

hey Ming, I agree with you. A sketchbook can be a great tool while one figures things out. And yes I like many of my sketches more than some of my paintings!

m collier said...

Perhaps a differnt approach is in order -- get rid of the small brushes and canvases and attack with large weapons (brushes) big strokes, bold colors -- it's liberating. I do it sometimes - just to move on --

Luis Colan said...

Thanks for that suggestion M. I have been thinking of that recently...I'm sure it would be a fun thing to just paint everything out of my system on a larger scale with bigger and bolder tools.