What is Artist’s Block?

Hello Friends, I am recycling an old blog post here, because it seems so relevant to the struggle I have had in getting this new series, Voices, and Visions off the ground. It has taken me several months to get traction, but I finally have some sketches to share! At last! The series is about the human condition, The World with waternarkLONGIN~1, with watermark and is inspired by poems, by writers such as Williams Wordsworth, who wrote the poem, “The World is too much with us.” Though it was written several hundred years ago, in 1807,  about the conflicts between our connection to nature, and the pull of materialism driven by the industrial revolution in England during the 19th century, it still seems so relevant today. Anyways, on to the blog post, which is about the Artist’s Block.

What is Artist’s Block?

Art of Schmidt Blog Post

 

This year has been a difficult one with lots of transitions and changes. One of these big changes was my decision to drop out of the Human Services Associate’s degree program at Frederick Community College, after 18 months of double-mindedness between feeling like I had to finish it because I didn’t have any other solid plans for my career, and I had already put in countless hours writing papers, studying and completely fieldwork.  I had felt burnt out and unmotivated to finish the program, and I also felt split in half between my desire to be a professional artist and the need to carve out a definite career plan for myself. It was a difficult decision but I finally decided to drop out after some soul searching and talking with my academic advisor for a variety of reasons. In addition, the workload that this academic program demanded left very little time for creating art. And if I am 100 percent honest with myself, I have always wanted to take my art to the next level beyond just a hobby, but felt unsure of how to pursue this goal after I graduated from McDaniel College with a degree in Art in 2005, and it didn’t seem “practical” to pursue art as anything more than a hobby. I always felt somewhat unsure if Social Work was really the right path for me in contrast.

 

Lately, I have been learning that creative time is important to me and my well being. Creating artwork has been an outlet for me at various times in my life during stressful moments and personal struggles, especially during my father’s long illness and eventual death in 2011 from heart disease.  Making paintings and drawings in oil, watercolor, pastel, and pencil has provided me with a safe way to process difficult feelings and emotions. However, lately, making art has been very challenging and more like a test of endurance and skill than the oasis or refuge it used to be. In spite of the difficulties, I have been pressing on with sketches and paintings to prepare for my October art show at the Frederick Coffee Company as Artist of the month. However, the joy I once felt in making art seems to have deserted me.  I am making very slow progress with starting only 1-2 paintings a week, after looking at some reference photos I took of Catoctin State Park, here in Thurmont, MD.  What is going on here? How can I go from feeling like creating artwork is my lifeline, to it has become my enemy and tormentor and relentless critic?  After reading an article, entitled, “7 Types of Creative Block(And what to do About Them)”, by Mark McGuiness, I think I am beginning to understand that this lack of forwarding motion is the dreaded  Artist’s Block that seems to afflict creative types from a variety of field from musicians, writers, and artists.

What Should Artists Do with Unsold Art?

Several few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Jason Horejs entitled, “What Should an Artist do with a Lifetime of Unsold Artwork?” The article focused on a question posed by a reader on Jason Horejs’s site, who had reached the age of ninety, and had produced a vast collection of artwork during their career as an artist and had never mastered the art of marketing, but nonetheless had showed their artwork in various shows and competitions throughout their lifetime. Despite this, the artist was left wondering what to do with the artwork that hadn’t sold, and felt that their shyness had played a part in keeping them from selling more artwork. Jason Horejs opened up the question for discussion on his blog post, by asking readers to respond to this reader’s question about how to dispose of excess, unsold artwork, whether the artist was living or not. The answers to this question varied from hosting a super art sale, donating the work to a charitable cause, or selling the artwork to auction houses and art galleries thereafter.

Although I hope to have many more years to live, I am considering this question myself, “What should I do with my unsold artwork?” This question has been taking an added significance since I am rapidly running out of space in my apartment to store my paintings and drawings, despite occasional sales, art commissions and donations over the years. I am new to the world of art entrepreneurship, and still have a long way to go in refining my marketing and sales techniques; however, I have been painting and drawing for several years. In fact, I have been drawing and painting since I was nine years old, when I took my first painting class, and I have been intentionally focused on selling and marketing my artwork for about a year. Over time my stash of unsold artwork has continued to accumulate.

In addition, after attempting to organize my artwork this past week, by wrapping them in wax paper and bubble wrap, I am getting an idea of how much work it will be to find places to put my artwork. Now that I have a clearer picture of how long this organization process will take, I’m also realizing that I do not want this task to consume all of my time. I also don’t want to start renting a storage space to store the art yet, although it may come to that at some point. Another problem is that I am less inclined to give my artwork away to friends/family because I am making the switch from creating art as a hobby to a small business, and I feel it’s unfair to offer my artwork for free to some and charge for it from others.

In the past, I have given my artwork to others as gifts, and some of it has been trashed as a last result when I could not think of a way to salvage the painting. Other times, I have recycled canvases by sanding them and re-applying gesso to start a new painting. Sometimes I can get a really great painting out of the recycled canvases. Occasionally, my artwork has been sold to collectors and fans of my artwork. I’m grateful for each and every sale. On the other hand, I’d like to consider what some of my options might be for dispensing with my artwork. Some ideas that come to mind are: 1.) listing places in my neighborhood and surrounding areas, where my artwork can be exhibited such as art galleries, retail stores, and coffee shops, signing up for more art contests,, decorating my home and switching out the artwork periodically, and storing my best work and researching additional strategies to sell them online or in books about art business.

Here’s what some other people had to say about the subject of disposing of excess, unsold artwork: Gallery owner of Xandu Art Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona: Jason Horejs states that: “It’s never too late” to learn how to market your artwork, on his blog www.reddotblog.com,  Artist: Lori McNee suggests: Evaluate the unsold painting to see if you can make it better, on her website www.finearttips.com, and Teaching Artist: Christine Martell offers: Use old artwork to make new work by collaging drawings and paintings or making sculpture out of it, on her website http://christinemartell.com/about-christine-martell/. What about you reader? Do you have any additional thoughts on this subject? I would love to hear your suggestions, as I work through this long-term project of organizing my art studio and my unsold artwork.

Sketchbook cover, edited.jpg.
I’m taking a break from my biographical sketch of Sting this week and working on some prompts from this sketchbook. I hope to get back to the portrait next week.
Sketchbook, sunflowers,edited 2
Pictured is a colored pencil sketch of a field of sunflowers.
Sketchbook, Emperor Dragonfly, edited 2
Here is another page from my sketchbook of an Emperor Dragonfly made with colored pencil.
Sketchbook, Redwood, edited
A colored pencil sketch of a redwood tree.