New Series Update: Voices and Visions
The Cause: Artist’s Block
Back in September of last year, I posted about getting started with a new body of artwork, Voices, and Visions, based on the human condition. However, I am sorry to say that the work on it has not been going well. Not at all smoothly in fact. For a while, work on it has ceased as other priorities took center stage. But the biggest obstacle to getting any headway on this project has been that I have been afflicted with an artist’s block and a lack of studio schedule structure. While I did finally get to the oil painting version of my painting, Maslow’s Hierarchy, I hesitate to even post a picture of it, it was so disappointing. Although I usually love to work in oils, things in this portrait just did not gel, and the piece ended up being stale and overworked. Another challenge about this piece was that it came almost completely from my imagination and I had very few reference photos to guide me.
The Analysis: I am Afraid
Only recently have I taken the time to ponder why things with this painting did not work out…Kind of like the analysis one goes through after a failed relationship. If I had only done this or that, or not done that, etc. Perhaps part of the problem is that I have been wanting to work with different materials, using mixed media, rather than oil paints and working in a more expressive art journaling style. From time to time, I have experimented with mixed media, but never really made a study of what mediums work well together, etc. Most of my mixed media pieces have been made for the Box Show at the Artists’ Gallery in Frederick, MD. Quite simply, I have lacked the courage to put pencil to paper, or brush to canvas and try something new. Just gessoing a new canvas brought on waves of anxiety that were difficult to banish yesterday. But I persevered anyway because I do not want to let fear win.
The Inspiration: Bermudian High School Art Show, Adams County, PA
This past weekend I visited a new art show which opened my eyes to the possibilities of artistic representation, and I finally felt inspired to go back to the drawing board and make some art. The art show in question was an exhibit of mixed media artworks by 45 high school students from the Adams County, PA area and was housed at the Adams County Arts Council. Students focused their works on the theme of human emotion and experimented with a variety of media, such as cardboard, newspaper, colored pencil, magazine clippings, watercolor, etc.
The Breakthrough: Back to the Drawing Board
When I got home, I literally began cutting up color sketches of unfinished color sketches and began re-drawing and re-composing the artwork, The Dream of Time Travel. I have yet to tackle the Maslow’s Hierarchy painting, but maybe this new project will give me some ideas about how to re-think the artwork, such as what media I could use instead of oil painting, as well as what style I want to work in. I have limited myself to working in oils lately, and it’s been stifling. I’ve also been struggling to find my unique style of painting, which represents my love of expressive color and emotional content.
This is particularly apropos for this series, and it seems to be one of the main failings of the Maslow’s Hierarchy painting, it feels devoid of any emotion. One final thought for today, as the writer Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Because I am not a writer, but an artist, I am going to modify that statement for myself and say that if I don’t make time to look at the artwork of others, I am not equipped with the ingredients to make good art. So I am going to make it an intentional habit to get out there, visit art galleries, read art books, go on Pinterest, etc., and fill up that creative tank.