Sunday, September 20, 2009

Artist Block

"I feel thin. Like butter spread over too much bread." - Bilbo Baggins, Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien.

That's the way I've been feeling for quite some time. Pulled in so many different directions there's not much energy left for me. Add seeing a criticism about my work, the economy causing very low enrollment in my classes so that the classes are cancelled, and feeling at a standstill trying to expand what I can do. It all adds up to insecurity about my abilities and an artist block.

A sheet of blank paper used to be so exciting. So many possibilities. Now my stomach clenches and I think negative thoughts like "can't" and "not good enough".

I thought perhaps keeping an artist journal would help. Read books like The Decorated Page by Gwen Diehn. The pages are gorgeous. Beautiful watercolors and sketches. I start, but my pages don't come close to the examples in the book, and I end up abandoning the idea. Negative thoughts swirl around my head. So I bury the book under a pile of junk. Out of sight, out of mind.

While browsing an art catalog, Art from Intuition, Overcoming Your Fears and Obstacles to Making Art by Dean Nimmer caught my eye. Over 60 drawing and painting exercises to help you break the block cycles. The book arrived in the mail yesterday and a sentence in the first chapter slammed me upside the head.

"Think of your sketchbook as a practical tool that helps you bank your ideas and spontaneous flashes of inspiration so you can use them for future reference." p. 19

Slap my hand to my forehead! I always saw a sketchbook as small, finished pieces of art. Very freeing to see the blank pages as a space to try new things, play with old things. No judging. No worries. No mistakes.

I tried a variation of one of Nimmer's excercises: 30 drawings in 30 minutes. I thought it would be best to start out slowly. I found some dot ink stamps and plunked dots on a page. I could only fit 20 on the page, so set a timer to do 20 doodles in 20 minutes. The idea was not to spend much time thinking, but actually doing. It turned out to be fun. When I was labeling the page with the exericise title and date, I was struck by the coincidence. 20 doodles in 20 minutes on the 20th day of the month.
Nimmer also stated in the first chapter that a committment to time had to be made. I'll have to be diligent about scheduling some time to do and be.

1 comment:

  1. Time to lock that inner editor into it's envelope and fly free, artist!