Rediscovering your inner artist

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Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Darryl Daniels of Montgomery, AL wrote, “I lost my ‘inner artist’ over a period of years when I was taking care of my grandparents, trying to run a business and dealing with the challenges of marriage, etc. I stopped thinking about art and was knocked off course. While I now have art magazines, books and other forms of stimulation, I can’t begin again and I have persistent feelings of failure. When I think about what I have not done, the work ahead seems like an overwhelming mountain. How does one recover from this condition?”

Thanks, Darryl. I’m willing to bet that every artist in the history of art has suffered from your condition. Some suffer for months or years, others weekly, others several times a day. I’m suffering from it right this minute, but there’s a good chance I’ll be back to work as soon as I get this letter written.

Generally speaking, books, magazines and other stimuli don’t work. You have to steel yourself up and get yourself busy. It’s the work itself that rocks the mountain. If there ever was such a thing as an “inner artist,” it’s something like a pile of loose bricks that you have to form into a small monument every day. This is the simple difference between dreamers and doers. I call it the “worker’s edge.”

A goodly part of the worker’s edge is the knowledge and understanding that your personal creative processes are their own reward. Painting, for example, can be a parade of minor defeats and failures, but nevertheless the personal and individual working process is more positive than negative. Up here in Canada we call it “beavering away.” Beavering can start at any time, even with old beavers. Our national animal serves us well. Beavers pay little attention to the overweening mountain. Simple accumulation changes the course of rivers.

What happened to your inner artist? Your inner artist has just been temporarily out of action. Your basic human instinct to invent, create and build is still just below the surface. To flourish, you need to exercise. Ready or not, you need to start. The philosopher Lao-Tzu (604 BC — 531 BC) said it some time ago: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “Just keep going — no feeling is final.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Esoterica: Failure is a basic ingredient of success. Simply accept the notion that failures are the stepping stones to your greater self-realization. Looking at art magazines will only show you how imaginative others are, and how well some of them are doing. The time to look at magazines is after a busy day in your workplace. You need to know your inner artist will come to life only when you start. Now is as good a time as any. “Boldness has genius, power and magic. Engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin, and the work will be completed.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Joy and disappointment
by Sonia Gadra, Frederick, MD, USA

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“January Sunrise”
original painting by Sonia Gadra

Two emotions that all artists experience at one time or another are joy and disappointment. I spent a lot of timethis winter developing five paintings en plein air so I could choose three to submit for jury, which I thought turned out very well. I learned however, that the joy is not in competing and not just in the acceptance, it’s in the painting process. In the end, four out of the five paintings that were rejected from the plein air competition were selected for a juried spring exhibition in another state. After the disappointment you must keep trying and the joy you thought you lost will come back. Such is the life of an artist.


There are 3 comments for Joy and disappointment by Sonia Gadra

From: Maureen — Mar 11, 2011

I love this painting, it is wonderful

From: Ron — Mar 11, 2011

In my humble opinion,it is a very beautiful study of the sun.

From: Brenda — Mar 12, 2011

Beautiful! simply beautiful …. the colours, the compostion, the subject (the sun; I can feel the warmth of it!

Experiment and play
by Jan Yatsko, Atenas, Costa Rica

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“Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”
mixed media by Jan Yatsko

Family illness and subsequent death also coincided with loss of job, income crashing to 25% of the original and starting a new job direction with my husband has created an off-course from my art for over two years. My creative time has been so fragmented physically and mentally so I organized a Plein Air group that meets once a month at a different location. We are a group of open minded individuals who are creative through painting, sketching, writing, etc. I like the influence of other creative pursuits. Sometimes to be creative again in your own technique one has to step over into another, like going from painting to writing, or drawing to dancing, etc. Anyhow, the Plein Air group gives me the opportunity to create and socialize with other creative types. I still find that it is a constant struggle to find the time to create and I find myself fighting for it. Think small. Work on small projects that can be completed in a short time. Experiment, play and have courage to believe in your creative self a drop at a time.


There is 1 comment for Experiment and play by Jan Yatsko

From: Kim — Mar 11, 2011

I love your painting and your attitude, thanks for sharing.

Welcome the failure
by Mark Hope, Wasaga Beach, ON, Canada

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“Superior shield”
original painting by Mark Hope

Been there, done that. Robert is right; the good news is the ‘inner artist’ isn’t gone, just dormant. I had stopped drawing and painting soon after I married. After I had divorced I attempted to return to the pencil and brush. I was soon met with ‘failure’ on my first small tries and the same thoughts entered my mind: “I’ve lost my skills.” I felt devastated. But I persisted. There was something inside, some small ember that still glowed. With each small success I rekindled that ember and today some 15 years later I have a roaring bonfire of creativity blasting away. Start with something small in the medium you used to work in. Welcome the failure; don’t be afraid of it.


There is 1 comment for Welcome the failure by Mark Hope

From: Dottie Dracos — Mar 11, 2011

Love your painting — and your story. Encouraging.

Just show up
by Nicole Pletts, Durban, South Africa

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“I must with haste from hence”
original painting by Nicole Petts

I, too, suffer from moments of being uninspired and I actively, mentally and physically, don’t want to go down to my studio. My only solution to this is to just “do it.” I can’t afford to wait for inspiration to strike as I have a family to support. Last week I really didn’t want to paint; I was tired and miserable. I forced myself to the studio and painted an amazing painting. It just worked. Sometimes I am raring to go to my studio and I produce something scary and not up to scratch. Such is life; you have good days and bad days no matter what you do.

All you have to do is show up.


There is 1 comment for Just show up by Nicole Pletts

From: Betty Newcomer — Mar 11, 2011

How many artists would LOVE to make a living doing art??? Lucky you!

Your mind is selling you out
by Joseph Jahn, Nibe, Denmark

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“Massai”
original painting by Joseph Jahn

There is a good reason to call it a work of art. The mind does not produce art, the hands produce art. Clean a palette, arrange your brushes, mix some color or stretch some canvas. You’ll find in these small acts the smells that you once loved, the actions that at one time seemed so unbelievably marvelous and the motivation needed to just dive into the act of creation. Your body never forgot how much you love the work. Your mind is, for some reason, selling you out. Tell it to shut up and find something else to do while you get to work.


There are 5 comments for Your mind is selling you out by Joseph Jahn

From: Sharon Cory — Mar 11, 2011

Good advice. There’s a certain strength and assurance in your work that I’m enjoying…I’ve been checking out your website and you paint the way you talk.

From: Joseph Jahn — Mar 11, 2011

Thank you for that comment.

From: Julia Schwab — Mar 11, 2011

Exhuberant expression of colors and strokes. Lucky is the person who owns this. The canvas is a feast!

From: Brenda — Mar 12, 2011

I agree. It’s that ‘RIGHT BRAIN/LEFT BRAIN’ war that rages within.

From: Joseph Jahn — Mar 16, 2011

Love that painters like my work (people that can see)

Thanks fellow travelers

Break was a blessing
by Aleta Pippin, Santa Fe, NM, USA

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“Inspirational”
oil painting 16 x 20 inches
by Aleta Pippin

I’ve felt this way myself. There have been times that something has gotten in the way of my going to my studio and the longer I’m away from my studio the harder it is to get back into the swing of things. I’ve learned through the years that it’s best to make the effort to be in the studio (or wherever you do your work) on a daily basis. In 1996 to 2000, I quit painting, thinking that there was something else I wanted to do with my life. In 2000 I decided to quit second-guessing myself and to commit to painting. There was fear in that decision as I hadn’t touched a paint brush during those four years. Once I started painting again, the fear went away. And even though I hadn’t painted during that time, my work had achieved another level of sophistication. That sophistication was borne out of my love for art and continuing to visit museum shows and to view other artists’ work. I considered what attracted me and why, as well as maturing in my own idea of what appealed to me.

So maybe those times when we’re feeling guilty for not being in our studios should be reconsidered as blessings, allowing time for introspection and a renewing of our creative ideas and enthusiasm.


There are 2 comments for Break was a blessing by Aleta Pippin

From: Sheila Minifie — Mar 11, 2011

Love the painting.

From: Ron — Mar 11, 2011

I do,so agree with what you are saying.I did it myself.

Twelve Steps for Artists
by Dennis Church, Naples, FL, USA

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“April 2010”
original photograph by Dennis Church

Your letter today reminds me of the essence of A.R.T.S. Anonymous (Artist’s recovering through the Twelve Steps) where we admit we are powerless over our creativity and that our lives have become unmanageable. Recovering from what? Recovering from the blocks to creativity and that can cover a lot of territory. Thanks for the reminders.


There is 1 comment for Twelve Steps for Artists by Dennis Church

From: Meridith Hicks — Mar 11, 2011

I just looked up A.R.T.S. Anonymous…Thank you for mentioning it..

Nourish your inner artist
by Debra Moini, Santa Monica, CA, USA

Our “Inner Artist” is like a child needing much tending and nourishing. Just like the family and job you are now taking care of, so this part of you also needs your care and attention. Your inner artist isn’t lost but perhaps hidden because of neglect. Bring her out gently by giving even a little time and attention. Wonderful things can happen. You may even find the other responsibilities easier to deal with when the creative part of you has been fed. I’ve been where you are so I understand how easy it is to put yourself aside for the needs of others. However, in the long run living this way is out of balance and not healthy for you or them. Dust off those paint brushes!

Jump onboard
by Alan Soffer, Wallingford, PA, USA

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“Militarized/Demilitarized”
encaustic painting by Alan Soffer

Yes, outside influences can be devastating, whether physical, social, or psychological. In a recent interview, Chuck Close spoke to the creative process in the following way: “Those who are waiting for an epiphany to strike may wait forever. The artist simply goes to work, making art, both good and not so good.”

The process will absolutely work, as Robert quotes Lao Tzu. We jump onboard and begin the journey. When I had a full time career outside art, I spent what little time available writing and making notes, drawing possibilities, pasting inspirational photos from magazines and newspapers, and filling my soul with information and thoughts. It was a great way to take the first step.

Are artists made or born?
by Pat Stamp, Callander, ON, Canada

For the past 35 years I’ve been a professional potter. Now, with aching joints from the stresses and strains of the work I have begun to dabble in painting on paper. It is a bit daunting because it is all so new. There are common elements but the process is very different. Thirty five years ago when I was in college studying to be a potter the question was asked, “Are artists made or born?” My professor, a woman of strong opinions, stated firmly that artists are made because even if a person was blessed with “God given” talent, if there is no work ethic nothing will happen. This is your “worker’s edge.”

Goal orientation
by Kate Beetle, Walpole, NH, USA

I would point out the difference between goal orientation and task orientation. An individual task can be put off almost indefinitely. One always has mountains of them to reshuffle and prioritize. Goal orientation gives the tasks a higher purpose and helps with prioritizing. I am harking back to your letter about quality dribble of a few posts back. Using those ideas, I decided to work largely in oils for the moment but allow myself both still life and landscape. Since the economy is tight, I have been working on smaller pieces, and seem to have found a price point that works.

I have been in commercial design for many years and am working on transitioning to “fine art.” I want gallery representation so I’m working on consistency. I wasted a lot of money and energy last year on photography, framing, and show fees for work that should not have gone out, or on shows that weren’t going to really move me forward. So my goal is twenty-five gallery-ready pieces. At two a week, that’s three months. Oops! I’m ready to paint but there’s no canvas stretched — so I spent a day prepping–8 x 10 inch and 12 x 16 inch canvas. I don’t have to face an acre of blank canvas and mistakes are easier to toss. The goal is now ordering the tasks.

I did calligraphy for many years, and a friend asked me to do this quote for him. It has served me well over the years: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” (Calvin Coolidge)

Losing the fear
by Lynne Schlumpf, Chugiak, AK, USA

When I was in first grade, I drew this cow I will never forget. It was really good, and everyone said so except the cold, distant woman who came to parents’ night. That was my mother.

Forty years after I drew that cow, I finally started where I left off, sporadically at first. What do I draw? I spent many nights wondering. I began to paint things I loved. Only things I felt really strongly about, but I still felt like a loser.

Then one day I decided to do a challenge. It was my last effort at making myself do this every day. For all those years my art haunted me. It was in everything. The challenge was to draw 51 days of sketches; one for every year I have been allowed to live on this earth. It started out really hard, really, really hard. Seemed like everything I did was awful. And every night, I would sit up late and draw one picture every day. I did it because I had to at first (because of the challenge). Right around about the 20th day or so, I began to look forward to it. If I couldn’t think of a sketch, I would watch TV for awhile or look at Google. This would always give material. Then the change really happened. The fear left. The feeling of being lousy or a loser was completely gone. I slowly realized that I was drawing because I had to, but this time for a very different reason.


There are 6 comments for Losing the fear by Lynne Schlumpf

From: Sharon Cory — Mar 11, 2011

Forgive that cold distant woman. If she’d known better, she would have shown her love. You’ve got all the rest of your life to be who you were always meant to be.

From: Inez — Mar 11, 2011

At a very young age, from the minute I picked up a pencil or brush, Mom was the one who thought everthing I painted, etc. was beautiful, wonderful, etc. and she told me so.

When Mom passed away, I stopped painting for almost 10 years, because I thought that I had no one to paint for. Wrong!

Decided to pick up a brush again and whenever I finish a painting, I think …there you go Mom, another masterpiece. I’m still painting for her and now for myself. What a glorious feeling.

From: Akke Stretch — Mar 11, 2011

When my husband becomes stuck with regard to his sax playing, he goes back and plays all that is lovely and doable. When I became stuck with my painting, he suggested I repaint a piece that was lovely and doable. I did…it worked.

From: Tatjana — Mar 11, 2011

Thanks for a great story. The cure is in us, we just have to cooperate with it.

From: Lynne Schlumpf — Mar 11, 2011

Thanks for all your kind comments.

One more thing I did and forgot to mention was I stopped looking at other people’s work while I was working on this challenge. Beautiful work by people I admired just made me feel awful and unworthy. (well actually I made myself feel that way) Once I started to get into the groove of this challenge and stop feeling like a loser, I was able to look at other artist works and just feel good for them.

From: Jen M. — Apr 08, 2011

Lynne and Inez, your stories are both powerful and beautiful. Thank you. :)

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World of Art Featured artist Pam Stapleton, Kelowna, BC, Canada  

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Wayna Picchu

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by Pam Stapleton, Kelowna, BC, Canada

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Susan Marx of Orange, NJ, USA, who wrote, “As a painting professor of mine use to say, ‘If you wait for the muse to appear before you start to paint, she never will. She comes while you are painting.’ ”

And also Darrell Fullick of Kennesaw, GA, USA, who wrote, “In any creative endeavor, one has to get up and ‘go to the office,’ just like a real job.”

And also Doug Key of Greensboro, NC, USA, who wrote, “I give credit this year to one simple mantra — ‘Shut up and paint.’ It’s sort of like the Nike slogan — ‘Just do it.’ ”

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Rediscovering your inner artist

 

 

From: Adolfo McQue — Mar 07, 2011

Hi Darryl:

Start again small, maybe paint or draw one apple only, do a small thing everyday, and do not look back to what you did before. Realize that now you carry the experience of a lifetime with you and that will make your new work even better than ever, paint only what you love most.

Best wishes

Adolfo Mcque

From: Martha Corkrin in South Carolina, USA — Mar 07, 2011

Wow — Darryl’s letter expresses exactly my own situation! So many things have prevented me from “doing art” that I fear my inner artist has totally forsaken me. However, if I wait until my house is cleaned up and the yard raked, I will not have energy to lift a paint brush, muchness find the new acrylics I bought last summer.

Robert, you are indeed wise and very encouraging. I, too, have the books, magazines, Internet videos and membership in the local art group; but, all those things tend to make me feel like “it’s no use — I’ll never be as good as the others.”

But, Lent begins on Wednesday, so what better time to calm down and touch base with that inner artist…….for Lent I will give up all that attention to the outer world and meditate on reconnecting with the greatest artist and creator of all — the one who created the sunrises and sunsets that have inspired artists since the beginning of time. Anyone want to join me?

Martha Corkrin

South Carolina, USA

From: Dianne Clowes — Mar 07, 2011

I have never had this problem but I didn’t take time to paint for many years once. When I started again I found I had improved probably as much as if I had been painting! We just grow as we age. And I never stopped looking at things around me.

Go to places you love to be, really look at what is around you and soak it in. Even just the sky and the way the light hits objects around you. If it’s people you like to paint- go where there are lots of them. If you can’t find something that makes you want to paint it or draw it then just do painting exercises and experiment. Join a life drawing class, or challenge yourself to paint “outside of your box”, something you’d never usually do. Maybe futuristic or abstract. That reduces the pressure as it doesn’t matter to you anyway. Good luck!

From: John Ferrie — Mar 07, 2011

Dear Robert,

First of all, life happens, Marriage, children, careers, moves, divorce, deaths. It is all part of this incredible journey we are all on. Just about everyone has a lost dream, that of being a ballet dancer, extensive travel or being a fireman. Often people are too old, or not physically able or just lost interest. But when it comes to being an artist, it is easy to get back on the saddle, strap on some paint and go to it. There is a wonderful artist who is a paraplegic who paints holding a brush in his teeth. And all the books and readings and vas-elating with intellect doesn’t get the art happening. What happens in most cases of someone not getting to it, it’s usually fear based. I live by the words “Face your fear and do it anyway”. The best thing about being an artist is you can shut all of that external influence out, turn on some soft music and even if your not in the ‘zone”, just work with some colours and be expressive. Not everything is going to be a finished piece, nor is it going to become a masterpiece. I would recommend a simple trip to the art supply store, by a small sketch book with some nice paper, get some of those water soluble pencil crayons (just five or six colours for now) and two small brushes. Open the book up and let the supplies led you to your creative. Paint your fear, paint your frustrations, paint a picture of the flowers in a book, paint what is in front of you. Don’t count the days, weeks, months or years since you have done this, count the amount of time you can dedicate in the future to working within yourself.

Thats my advice. John Ferrie

From: Durinda Cheek — Mar 08, 2011

Robert, first I commend you for wanting to revive your art spirit. A lot of people just let it die after a period of time. I have found many adults in my classes who are rediscovering their creative selves after many years of other careers. I try to lead them back gently so they don’t self criticize too much. It’s like being a little rusty, but it is possible to get back on the bike and ride. Take a class from someone you admire or join a local art group which meets regularly. You will find others in your same situation and the support will be helpful. Good luck!

From: David Benjamin — Mar 08, 2011

Dear Darryl and Robert: It seems that some people get up much earlier than I do. I too am in a creative slump. I have been there before. I was a career scientist required to write grants to support my research and submit renewal requests every 3-5 years. Occassionally, the lack of inertia for this task was overwhelming, yet one day during the process I would wake up with a “need” to do something. That feeling usually followed a day or so of just thinking, not reading scientific journals, about my career, what I had already accomplished, the students that I had trained, and the wonderful colleagues around me – all of whom were supportive. i believe those few days of reflection made my inner self realize that the potential and reality were still there and my scientific inner self had merely been suppressed by the seemingly overwhelming burden of the day to day process. After these periods of reflection, I would remember that this “burden” was one I chose and loved. My inner self would resurface, the energy returned, and my thought processes focused as they had been.

Since retirement and taking up my second career of art, I have found that the same suppression of my artistic inner self – probably the same one as my scientific inner self – does occasionally occur but now I know a mechanism for bringing it back to the surface – reflection on past accomplishments, not reading or trying to paint. That reflection invariably makes me realize that the old energy and desire is still there and it is all that is needed to begin anew, building on past accomplishments however small they may have been.

Of course, my wife’s forever encouragement, faith, and love during those down times helps to work these wonders.

From: Tracey — Mar 08, 2011

Robert is right….get to work. Once you face it and push forward through the internal and external snags, you’ll be on your way.

From: Christiane Fortin — Mar 08, 2011

Robert coming out of silence and talking about your inner self is a wonderful idea congratulation for speaking out. It’s a total joy to read your interest of re-activating your art. I taught I was the only one in this situation. A couple of years ago my husband left leaving behind a farm, a wife with herniated disks and no job. I then lost my artistic values to leave place to the survival mode. I feared I would never get back into my art. I have just got out of surgery for my back and feel art inside more than ever. But how does one start again: I think just picking up a paper and drawing a small circle filled with beautiful shades will help. A small drawing a day will surely bring us back to this wonderful world of art. So lets pick up our pencil and draw. We can do it. We are not alone.

From: Christiane Fortin — Mar 08, 2011

Oh sorry I meant to answer Darryl in my previous text.

From: Mary Carnahan — Mar 08, 2011

Sometimes you just have to go deep and process what’s going on in your life. I was unable to paint much for about a year, tapped out by my own family issues. After that it was easy to be focused on being blocked, which is self-reinforcing especially when emotionally tired.

Motivation follows action. Last month I started playing around with some small watercolors, attention in the moment, bar set low, just playing. I also attend an open studio night with friends and their enthusiasm is catching. If I think about an approach my friend is taking, pretty soon I’m neck deep in the process of my own piece, things are flowing, and I’ve forgotten to be blocked.

Also mess around with a different medium — sculpture, collage. Your talent and enthusiasm will step right back in. Good luck!

From: Virginia Urani — Mar 08, 2011

Darryl, been there, am there, will be there again! I think the wonderful thing about having an “inner artist” or whatever it is that causes us to see and feel the beauty of the world around us and to express it with paint, pen or pencil is the IT NEVER LEAVES US! And, the things you learned years ago are still there, too. You will probably be a little “rusty” at first but I find that once I start working I learn more quickly than in the past. Love Roberts term, “beavering”!

From: Jane Wilcoxson — Mar 08, 2011

I found that by just making simple marks or splashes in watercolor colour, with no expectations other than enjoying the materials. My body started to remember the joy of creating. Don’t be held back by grandiose ideas of a master piece at this stage. Like sleeping beauty your creative self has been sleeping. So gentle stretches to start with. Even sniffing your art materials works.

From: Gwen Meyer Pentecost — Mar 08, 2011

Robert is absolutely right. Just begin. It doesn’t matter how bad it is at first, it is the act of persisting that will bring you success. You might have to go back and “correct” your first efforts later, but I will bet more often you will look back and find your work had more value than you thought.

I should add: Don’t be hard on yourself. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with you. You have the same creativity you always did. It is part of you, like eating and breathing. Remember that as you work, and soon you will sweep away the impediments.

Blessings on your journey,

Gwen Meyer

Inspirational Moments:

http://joyouslake.blogspot.com/

From: paula cravens — Mar 08, 2011
From: Judith — Mar 08, 2011

I agree with Robert and would like to make a suggestion to get you started.

Take an art class…anywhere. You will meet other artists, get some feed back and even learn something.

You will now be DOING it.

“Nothing happens unless you Do it.”

Best wishes

From: Mary Burkhardt — Mar 08, 2011

A friend once told me “Ideas lead to further ideas” when I complained that I couldn’t think of anything to paint. I’ve found that to be true. If you just get started, the new ideas will come.

From: Diana Rutherford — Mar 08, 2011

In response to Darryl Daniels: Everything Robert has said is v.good. Also, if you have anything spiritual going for you, look at Psalm 90:17. And my favorite trick” is to sneak out in the early morning (still dark), pretend you’re taking the dog for a walk – well, you really are; wear weather ready clothes, take one or two dark pencils, a knife, eraser, pad of paper, folding stool, and go somewhere you’ve noticed before. Draw like this, as the dawn comes up. The world is yours.

Diana

From: Sharon Kearns — Mar 08, 2011

Hi Darryl! I can identify with your plight – serious illness… family turmoil – and ultimately deep frustration. However, in my own situation, my art blossomed during these traumatic times. Art became my vehicle for escape, for focus… for peace… in the midst of a gigantic storm… My work was the one thing I could control in my life. I have often thought that if I had not had the ability to create during such difficulty, that I am not sure where I would be today. I encourage you to try to turn any negatives into positives. Channel frustrations, anger…sorrow…and allow them to flow through your work. I think you will be amazed at the possibilities!!!

From: Marvin Humphrey — Mar 08, 2011

I often remind myself of the Nike slogan: “Just do it”. In many painting sessions, inspiration comes AFTER, not before the activity.

From: Marilyn — Mar 08, 2011

Hi Darryl. I also identify with you because serious health issues, work and eventual death of my first spouse did stop me from creating art. Now, I am faced with my second husband’s death wish of cancer. There seems no time for artwork. But, what I discovered through the first wave of inability to create was “Art Therapy” which brought back my ability to concentrate on creation and not the doom aspect. Your creative juices will flow again if you give yourself at least 15 minutes a day to art-creation – art therapy. When the right brain kicks in again, you will find it easier to deal with the ‘real family-world problems’ and be a whole person again. Most artists and some non-artists are like that. We need to exercise that right side of the brain to feel better about ourselves. Art therapy is taught in some nursing homes and clients have found that their lives are enriched and they live a while longer because they are in touch with their creative juices that actually flow in every human being. Take it from one who knows: Set aside 15 minutes per day for just you. Tune in to mellow music. Start drawing anything you see in your area and do not look at your paper or art pencil. Follow the subjects lines with your eyes while drawing. Look down afterwards and you will see a mess of pencil marks. Repeat this procedure until your drawing is actually the subject you have been looking at. Then, start drawing anything that you wish. Your creative juices are flowing – you have the right side of the brain in motion. After your very own 15 minues, you will feel rejuvinated and better able to handle the stress of everyday life. Eventually, you will have more time to devote to just you and your artwork. It works. Believe me.

From: Patricia — Mar 08, 2011

If you are in a creative slump, it’s your own fault! Plant this thought in your mind and “KNOW THAT YOU CAN DO IT” and it will happen! Visualize the end result you are looking for before hand, stay on this path, think positive and it will happen! The mind is a powerful thing, it’s up to you to control it! Good Luck!

From: Marianne Wunderli — Mar 08, 2011

Hi Darryl,

I am an 8o year old woman suffering from information overload. My Dr. calls it hypertension. Even after a two stents implantation in my heart, I cannot seem to be able to concentrate on my painting.

So I just decided to start all over again practicing my tecniques not worrying about the results. Before I always wanted to make something frameable right away, and having attended oodles of workshops, I got away with some of the works. But most of my painting were not great pieces of art.

BUT, and I cannot stress that too much, doing them was just plain fun! Quit worrying about making “master pieces”, and imagine that you are an inexperienceds novice, and just doodle, experiment with different media, slosh it around, and you’d be surprised at what comes out of it!

And before you know, your “inner artist” will be jumping out and holler “Wow!!!” Go for it!

From: Russell Mang — Mar 08, 2011

Go to the toy section of any dept store, look for & buy a small “Yoda” figure in the Star Wars section. When you get home, put it someplace where it will be seen every day & put up a little sign to go with it…”There is no try – only do!!” Or maybe any Nike sports product – with a “Just do it!” sign…As so many above, I’ve been there, too & usually it’s a case of ‘just doing it’ that gets me rolling again.

From: Barbara Kennedy — Mar 08, 2011

True, there is no way to get through life’s difficult challenges except to keep going. Keep doing what you love.

From: Gail Nagasako — Mar 08, 2011

Thanks so much for this one. I have always loved the Boldness quote but never knew the second verse. Yours is the only newsletter I read faithfully because it rarely fails to awaken something in me.

From: Melinda Alpha Trinidad-Shanahan — Mar 08, 2011

When I look at how I spend my hours in the studio, I spend most of it “dreaming” about what I could create. Endless lists of ideas and projects fill my notes. But my canvases stay empty. A few have preliminary sketches waiting to be worked on. This is how I counter-act this tendency to become more productive. The first thing I do is grab a brush and some paints and paint, paint, paint! I usually go in and out of my home studio to attend to other chores as I am a stay-at home mom. But I have something to show my husband and kids by dinner time. Not necessarily a finished work. Just something i have drawn or painted that day.

It serves like a “deadline” for me. Try it. It works magic.

From: Maryann Kovalski — Mar 08, 2011

Get a small sketchbook- something that can fit into a pocket. Vow to mark up a page every day-with coffee if that’s all the time you have. Badly is okay. In fact badly can be better.Tape an image down if there’s no time or absolutely no juice.

When you’ve created about twenty, take some of those small images and enlarge them on a photocopier. Or cut them up. Or create something new inspired by them.

After a while you’ll surprise your self. You’ll forget that you are back to work!

From: Catherine Stock — Mar 08, 2011

I am making the transition from illustrator to artist. It’s strangely difficult for me to disassociate myself from the money angle: painting has just seemed like “work” to me, so why do without compensation? One way for me to rediscover the joy of drawing and painting has been by establishing weekly life drawing evenings in my studio. For three hours every Monday night, a group of local artists of different calibre get together here to draw and paint from a life model, almost inevitably with some surprising and gratifying results. The structure definitely helps to get the creative juices flowing.

From: Andrea Colby — Mar 08, 2011

I am currently struggling with feelings similar to the ones Darryl describes. I will create in my studio in short bursts, and then I will feel exhausted by working my regular job and I won’t go into the studio again for weeks. It is difficult to motivate myself to get into the studio to begin with, and often I’ve been wondering why it is such a struggle. Some days I doubt myself, whether I was really meant to be an artist, and if I don’t have enough desire or willpower to go to my studio, whether I should just give up on it. The demands of daily life just seem to take over everything.

From: Eveleen Power — Mar 08, 2011

In reply to Darryl’s letter about losing one’s inner artist, the simple answer is to just keep turning up at your studio/area of work and do it anyway. Paint if you don’t feel like it, if you feel like a fraud, if you don’t want to, just keep turning up at the work place and keep painting despite the feelings. It has helped me in the past to do a class in something I want to improve, life drawing, oils whatever.

It also really inspires me to go look at paintings in an art gallery, it makes me want to rush back and start painting.

From: Caroline Simmill — Mar 08, 2011

What an up lifting message you are sending us today. Getting started, making that step into the studio each day is not easy, there always seems to be other things to distract. I find sketching is a good way of beginning, do some thumbnails if you find a proper painting to be too much of a challenge or work on a small canvas. Small paintings can help to free us from the concerns of ruining a large canvas. Paint studies these are wonderful things and from them ideas will start to flow out and inspiration will be reborn. Don’t set your standards too high Darryl or you will feel as if you will never achieve your goal. Most of all enjoy your painting that is the most important message of all! All the best.

From: Laura Molloy — Mar 08, 2011

I always enjoy your letters. I just wanted to let you know that. This one is no exception. Thank you so much for doing this. Your consistency amazes and inspires me.

From: sarastar — Mar 08, 2011

If you start with remembering your dreams. Go to bed early, try to get in the habit of waking up naturally before your alarm. Keep a journal by your bed, and even get a dream catcher or make a dream pillow with some dream enhancing herbs. Dreams can bring inspiration. And being well rested and less stressed will help you approach art again with less trepidation. Draw or write down any ideas you have, places you would like to paint, still lives you would like to arrange, poses, animals, whatever you want to paint, keep a running list of ideas, and then pick one and approach it, paint it draw it, sculpt it, whatever you do. Day dreams are good too. I don’t think I get inspiration when I am stressed, it comes when I am zoned out, dreaming or relaxed. And then when it is time to get to work my notes of ideas are there for me.

From: Judy Nelson — Mar 08, 2011

A good post. I’m caring for a husband with cancer and chemo treatments, hospitals, drs, radiation, the whole 9 yards plus all the work here (live in upstate NY – hello – snow)

I started with one small painting, and now paint almost every day. Keeping them small for my small blocks of time. A very valuable lesson – I’m “beavering away”.

ps We have lots of beavers also.

From: Ortrud K. Tyler — Mar 08, 2011

Darryl needs to know he is not alone, lots of people, especially women artists go through this. They have to raise kids first, take care of everyday live and then find time to do their art. Been there, done that. He needs to look at it as a second chance. He brings a lifetime of experience to his art, so go for it. Also, I find books and magazines, etc. often jolt you into thinking which leads to mixing colors which lead to …. Just do it. Art sorts itself out many times. Living in a small beach community, the nearest really good gallery is 40 min. away. When I go to town I stop there to get my art fix. It never fails to inspire and I come away with the feeling that if they can do it, so can I. Happy painting.

From: Paula Timpson — Mar 08, 2011

Inside is where the truth lives

Everyone begins creative, then belongs to this world~

The hope is in Believing , remaining free~

Inner Art becomes pure truth at age 97 or at age 7-

From: Sherry ONeill — Mar 08, 2011

Take a Workshop!!! In the past when I have lost my way and feel very disconnected from my creativity, taking a workshop from a terrific instructor, surrounding myself by like-minded people in a supportive atmosphere has done the trick. Have no fear, many in the workshop are in exactly the same spot and receive a transfusion from all the great vibes. Good luck — don’t give up, this too shall pass.

From: Joani Stotler — Mar 08, 2011

Thank you so much for your letters — I always find some helpful nugget.

With regard to Darryl, the thing I’ve found useful is to start on some small thing I felt some success with in the past and build on that — as you say, one step at a time. Hope he gets out of that funk soon, it’s not a fun place to stay.

From: Susan Vaughn — Mar 08, 2011

Oh my goodness – as I sit here at my laptop I realize that I, too, have this problem. It weighs me down for months at a time. Even now, I have a commissioned painting that I must get started, but can’t seem to find the energy or inner dedication I need to move forward, to plant my feet firmly at my easel and begin the creative process. Yes, I also feel like a “failure” when I let time slip by without adding to my portfolio of work, or trying new techniques, or becoming more my “own” artist. It truly is the process – the “getting started” that makes the difference.

From: Flora Doehler — Mar 08, 2011

If the muse was truly lost, there would be no yearning or memory of it. That sadness is the soul’s frustration at not being creative now. I agree with Robert that all of us have that feeling from time to time. But like all challenges in life, the only way to get around it it is to go through it!

I suggest that you sign up for a drawing or painting class as a start. This will help you to create the habit or practice of making art. You’ll find yourself in a room of others who speak the same language and have a need to create. Going to a structured class is a great way to begin because you feel compelled to go even if you don’t feel like making art that day. Also, try spending at least 30 minutes a day in a creative endeavour such as drawing. Make it a sacred time by playing wonderful music, lighting a candle. Be kind to yourself and don’t judge your results. Give yourself a pat on the back for having the courage to try. It is only in the doing that our creative ideas and growth will happen. Even when we feel discouraged.

I think you’ll find that as you apply yourself to experimenting with art materials that the voice of regret will change to one of anticipating the next art opportunity.

You want to do it! You can do it!

From: Cathy Harville — Mar 08, 2011

This piece on the lost inner artist really resonated with me. For the past several months, I have been struggling with my muse, wondering why my artistic ability has been hijacked. I have no less than six pieces in various stages laying around my studio. Some of them seem to be irretrievable failures, while with some, I am just stuck.

Robert is right. The only way to overcome the stuck feeling is to keep making art. I find this is a good time to experiment. I am working in acrylics and pastels, sometimes at the same time. I am rediscovering what is inside of me. And with each passing week, I feel less stuck.

From: Carolyn Rotter — Mar 08, 2011

There have been times when we must, for certain reasons, place our artistic self on hold. I had let 20 years slide by before I realized I had not painted. What got me back was a friend who had convinced me to take a class with her. At the time I was most embarrassed to let people in the class know of my degrees in art since I certainly wasn’t using them to my advantage. Slowly the feelings came back and with that the confidence. The instructor was wonderful and that was all I needed to set me on the right path. Now I paint with a passion to make up for the lost years.

From: Linda Powers — Mar 08, 2011

My comments to Mr. Daniels apply to all artists who are stuck. It’s nothing but the big-hairy monster called “fear of failure.” Kill it by deliberately creating something “bad.” Then fix it.

From: Sheila Psaledas — Mar 08, 2011

Your message about the inner artist is o true! A few years ago as my mother’s health was failing I was given the task of her care giver and handling her estate. My inner artist went into hibernation, knowing that Mom needed to be put ahead of everything else. I look back at that time as a period of growth and maturity. I believe my art is better for it.

From: Jim Oberst — Mar 08, 2011
From: Jill Brooks — Mar 08, 2011

This is a great column Robert, and one that you write in one form or another, about every six months. Of all of your wisdom, this is the piece that I have valued the most over the several years I have been a part of this on-line exchange of ideas. It is important to keep the faith. Beavering away works. Find your way to your studio, Darryl, wherever it is, and begin. If necessary, begin again tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that. After all, if nothing changes, nothing changes. And write back in six months to let us know how you are doing!

From: Sharon Gray — Mar 08, 2011

Oh, my inner artist disappears frequently, so I take classes, especially from artists who are great teachers, and/or I make art with artsy friends, who love and encourage me.

I also push pin large sheets of butcher paper onto a piece of dry wall, use large brushes to fling and swipe tempera paint with abandon. All the materials are cheap and it’s fun. Fun gets me going every time.

From: Gillian Easton — Mar 08, 2011

Thanks for your letters, they are such an inspiration and help.

From: Arthur Petch — Mar 08, 2011

I am currently taking a workshop called “LIFE SONG” that is all about awakening and releasing the creative energy within everyone.

Based on my experience of six weeks of the course, I highly recommend it to anyone else who feels out of touch with their inner artist.

The course in Ottawa is offered by Barclay MacMillan.

From: Tamarind Rossetti — Mar 08, 2011

Thank you! What a fantastic letter. I appreciate your words and am happy to receive this reminder this morning.

From: Shirley Fachilla — Mar 08, 2011

My “inner artist” languished for hmmm… more than 35 years. I probably would have never reconnected except for a life changing experience that left me, for a time, with little I could do except worry.

I rediscovered drawing and then painting as an activity that completely absorbed me and took me outside my concentration on me and my problems.

My difficulties have lessened considerably, but painting can still keep me focused on the process and the hoped-for product rather than myself.

That’s not to say it’s always easy to get started on a day to day basis. As Robert advised, you just have to start. Don’t wallow in the wasted time, the things not learned. Just begin. Undoubtedly, you’re at the start of a big learning curve. But the greatest artists, Michangelo and Cezanne to name only two, died feeling that they had much to learn and that great strides in their work were ahead for them. Isn’t that to be infinitely preferred to the feeling that you’ve achieved everything you set out to do or worse, the knowledge that you never began in the first place?

From: Heidi McCurdy — Mar 08, 2011

Thanks for your insightful and inspiring letter. This is one of my favourite topics! Part of the reason that we can be blocked creatively is that we have lost or misplaced the ability to play, and therefore the idea of art-making becomes a chore, responsibility, a ‘should’, and a source of a sense of failure. So it can be helpful to begin with playing in whatever your art form is; instead of trying to create a masterpiece, simply improvise and allow yourself to make mistakes and be imperfect. I find using inexpensive materials is helpful in allowing oneself to play freely. Put on your favourite music, dance, sing, experiment with ways to inspire yourself and have fun. Eventually you will find that place inside that delights in the creative process and can’t resist it.

Another useful trick for overcoming resistance and procrastination is setting a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. If you make a deal with yourself that you only have to do this task until the timer goes off, it is far less intimidating. And of course once it rings you have passed the hard part – getting started – and you will likely want to continue. You will have become a ‘doer’

From: Christine Taylor — Mar 08, 2011

I wanted to give you some encouragement to ”just pick up your sketch pad and paints and allow the process to begin again” . You will soon rediscover the flow and be happier with your place in the world . Like you , I am now struggling a bit with the new chapter I see before me.

Now that the nest has emptied , an intense period of raising three children has now ended. Balancing family responsibilities and work can seriously eat into trying to have”painting ” time. I believe that all creative souls struggle within for acceptance of self ……….if you just show up and allow yourself to step back into your zone , the magic will begin ……best of luck and chin up Darryl !

From: Nancy Roshensky — Mar 08, 2011

THANK YOU, THANK YOU! This letter gave me just what I can use to help me go, go, go with my work of my art and every other aspect of my life.

From: Sandy Robinson — Mar 08, 2011

After 35 years of raising children and working I was able to retire. Dummy me thought I would be able to step into the level of art work about where I was earlier. Not so!

A wise friend suggested I start drawing; minimum of one drawing a day. Starting simple with an everyday object, day one was a line drawing, day two was shade only, moving on to negative spaces and cross hatching, the whole process gave me the encouragement I needed to move on with paints. It is my hope that this process can be of help in getting into it (beavering). Go for it!

From: Beth Mahy — Mar 08, 2011

I begin again with eggs, that is by drawing/painting eggs. I have a few egg things around to look at as the years go by. They are sort of like a gauge. Sometimes I audition with my eggs. I have a small canvas that fits into my folio. It’s proof that I can do the work.

The other thing is that I think when I am discouraged, “They say it takes 10,000 hours to get good at something. I haven’t put ’em all in yet, so I’m going into the studio and putting a few hours in so I’m closer to my goal.”

Many thanks for this wonderful column, Robert.

From: Arnold Nelson — Mar 08, 2011

This is the most amazing, thought out thing about art on the entire Internet. Really useful. Thank you to everybody.

From: Patricia Peterson — Mar 08, 2011

Creativity comes from life and the accomplishments of Darryl Daniels’ business concerns bodes well for having tremendous discipline and skill sets to be adapted with his return to his inner artist. The love and care he devoted to his family is there for him to pull out to express a great deal of what it is to be human.

Mature adults waste no time in going after what they want, because they know what it is. That in itself is a tremendous gift: desire.

To be human is not to be perfect. To quote John Lennon: “who do you think you are, a super star, right; you are!” Nelson Mandela said, “smallness doesn’t serve you.”

Shoot the moon, Darryl, you’ve got nothing to loose and, best and most important of all, you know what you want: go for it.

Lastly, beg the question: at the end of your days would you feel complete not having tried at all?

From: Eugene Kovacs — Mar 08, 2011

As a person doing so many things at the same time, it can affect him as a family man and as an artist. As advice to that artist, to look at himself as a human, to come back to reality and take a deep breath and relax. You can always do one thing at the time. Furthermore, to have a good vacation and enjoy the life and the nature. On the other hand, in the future the time will enable him to continue with his art work .

From: Anneke van der Werff — Mar 08, 2011

Thank you so much for this letter!!

Anneke van der Werff info@annekevanderwerff.nl

Holland

From: Gladys Delmont Wierbinski — Mar 09, 2011

This same phenomenon occurs almost universally for those who are craftspersons of any sort, and for those who are self employed rendering a service (they perform) or product (they make). There is always that dark night when “going back to 9 to 5” or “taking a job in the corporate world” are among the alternatives considered. The fact is that one or the other, or both, can be done. However, in my opinion, this is usually a choice that makes itself based on the exigencies of the individual situation. The real problem is not making the decision, but living with the outcome, which is, in some cases, regret. There are many, many people with artistic and/or craft impulses whose lives are such that these impulses are to some extent unsatisfied. There’s no easy resolution to the dilemma. Once, however, we’ve rendered unto Ceasar his due (of time, energy, and capital), what’s left is ours to spend, and we’d best use those resources as efficiently as possible without giving way to hand-wringing, regret, nostalgia and fruitless emotions of loss.

From: Seth Matriades — Mar 09, 2011

Darryl, quit flogging the issue (and yourself) and get your head back in the game. No one is going to be able to do more than pat you on the head and tell you it’s all right. I can empathize with your situation, but that gets you nowhere. When in doubt, get to work.

From: Andrew — Mar 09, 2011

Darryl – two things: 1) Get your technical momentum back by lowering your standards. Forget quality, it takes quantity for the process to become automatic again. You’ll raise your quality once things start moving again. 2) Throw out your old rules. I went 7 years without touching my guitar, and was unsure if I would ever play again. I teased myself back into playing by adopting a new rule “I’m only going to play what I feel like”. Pure pleasure, pure indulgence. No rules.

Best,

Andrew

From: Kim Overall — Mar 09, 2011

Your current experience is what I’ve been going through these past couple of years. To keep me in art and growing I’ve taken figurative drawing classes and sculpture. Exiting a volunteer position this May has me excited again to return to my barn studio. There are three things “I” need to really get the burner going in my soul: a goal, a plan, and a deadline. Everything happens very quickly and happily after that. Get committed into making something, albeit small and manageable initially and you’ll gain your inner artist and smile back! Best wishes always.

From: X. Perience — Mar 09, 2011

My art and me, we have something going on — a private matter really. It always wants to sing and I’m the only one who can give it a voice. There are times we use words but when its good — we make music. You’re exactly where you’re suppose to be in time so warm up to the idea, put away the art books and goof off on a canvas or two.

From: Laura Priebe — Mar 09, 2011

Thank you for this wonderful insightfulness, Robert.

Lately, I too have been completely overwhelmed by events here that are threatening financing the arts on a state wide basis. The poor comprehension concerning the joy a community experiences by the mere freedom to celebrate life, as well as, not understanding the education and labor behind developing the skills to create is lacking in our state government administration. Business education at the University level does not include any background support to understanding the arts. Yet, they are the people that govern its finances through grants, education, and interest groups. Most of these people experience the arts as a recreational day off or through touring. But, do not follow the arts as a reflection of culture within their own state. We are now

battling, literally for survival for basis recognition as a relevant structure of state and federal financial investment. Though I work for the passion and love of my work, I now find a sense of needing to put down my tools to engage in protecting and preserving the respect for all.

This email was delightfully helpful in refocusing my greatest goal to create something that celebrates life for us all.

Thank you again.

From: Ann Koziell — Mar 09, 2011

Once again your letter has inspired me and motivated me to get busy and paint.

Thank you.

From: Bev Ashton — Mar 09, 2011

Thank you for this. its really good stuff.

From: Robert Corsetti — Mar 09, 2011

I agree get busy its the only way out! Do something stupid on purpose, make mistakes, just get to work!

From: Judith Lenzin — Mar 09, 2011

Wow! I can relate to this so well. Just this past January, for some unknown reason I had a spell of not knowing what to do next with my quilting. This is very rare for me. I would stand in front of the fabric closet thinking What Should I DO? It was a desperate time for no other reason apart from this blockage of ideas. Then I decided to take up something I had already started, even though it wasn’t that inspiring. Lo and behold! the very act of being in motion again gave me the impetus I needed to get into a new project again. And I’m now back on track with some interesting things happening again. So your words to Darryl are those of a sage. And thank you again for putting it so succinctly in this last letter. The best remedy is indeed work itself to get the juices flowing again.

While I’m at it, let this be a birth announcement too. Snippets… one quilter’s chronicles is out there finally… http://judylenzin.blogspot.com . Let there be Light!!!

From: Evelyn Brannon — Mar 09, 2011
From: Pamela Manson — Mar 09, 2011

Enjoyed the first letter and can understand the dilemma that Darryl is experiencing at the moment. ‘Artists Block’ I think they call it. The creative juices will flow again that’s for sure if he just makes a start. I am an Irish artist and have recently set up my website, Google pamela manson artist, and am painting every day now after years of teaching Art and Design. Want to leave some tangible legacy before I ‘shuffle of this mortal coil’. Painting allows us to loose ourselves and find ourselves all at the same time. Quite amazing really.

From: Priya Drews — Mar 09, 2011

When I decided it was well past time to begin painting again, I took a 3 day workshop in plein air painting, landscape being a subject I had never tackled before. After three days, I was amazed that my skills had actually improved, rather than diminished over the ten years in absentia. After painting every weekend for the past year and a half, I just presented my first show and am well on my way into the next one.

From: Caroline Planting — Mar 09, 2011

Thanks, Robert! I’ve been going through a dry spell myself. The gray weather and a sinus infection aren’t helping. I need to use some BRIGHT COLORS!!!

From: Mina Pratt — Mar 09, 2011

I find that books and articles are very stimulating to me. Also people and shows are a huge help. Try a new technique. Having been an art teacher for many years, all students need stimulation and “get ‘get ‘er going” is the best therapy. I love your articles, as long as they are positive, and have new thoughts.

From: VP Miller — Mar 09, 2011
From: C Blackburn — Mar 09, 2011

Thank you for this column. I’ve been unable to work on any projects for over a year due to several situations and health issues and I’ve been feeling so down that I can’t get rolling again. I hope my funk passes by soon so I can get on with my art. Your column is very inspiring!

From: Karen Dawson — Mar 10, 2011

If you don’t paint, you don’t get to call yourself a painter.

From: Suzanne — Mar 10, 2011

“…I have persistent feelings of failure. When I think about what I have not done, the work ahead seems like an overwhelming mountain.”

Ugg, what a confession of pain and outdoing. Knock knock — Who’s there? Nobody — Nobody?? That’s right nobody and its no joke. But take heart. It took someone to call out and somebody to answer so in fact there is someone there. He is a man of courage and belief and once his colour wheel starts turning he will bright like the noon day sun and come out of those cave drawings. All the best to you, never stop believing!

From: Dorenda — Mar 10, 2011

Hi Darryl!

Read all of the advice above and see what rings true for you. What works for some may or may not work for you…YOU must determine what process will kick-start your creativity. Some people join groups and want camaraderie…others hole up in their “cave” and do just as well. The main thing is don’t waste what precious time you have to spare on your art doing things that you know won’t work (I know.) Maybe you will have time every day to do something, maybe you will only have an hour a week…accept what time and energy you have and do as much with it as possible…no regrets! It was very noble of you to give your time to your grandparents in their time of need, now give yourself the same gift…are you not just as deserving? :)

From: Debrah Barr — Mar 10, 2011

Darrell needs to start. And we all know the agony of “Start”. Some days “Just Do It” is more a slap in the face than street level encouragement. I “started” by journaling..as art kept coming up – with a why closely following. Then, I carried a sketch pad and pen..and journaled in that – and did small drawings – things in my head or from photos. A long trip to California – and visiting favorite beach towns – had me sketching on the beach – doing plein air for the first time. I have not stopped. That was 6 years ago.

Darrell is already reading – a small action is all that is required – after all if a finger can a hand holding a pen, brush, tool…do?

When painting is more like diving into a brick wall – I sketch or work on pine-needle baskets – while I do the stare down at the work that is not working at the moment!!

Keep a sense of humor – above all – and don’t think of art as a “do”, but as an “is”. Art is what you…is.

Best as ever dear brother – thanks again for your voice of encouragement and wisdom – it is a nice place from which to paint.

From: Nancy Asbell — Mar 10, 2011

Sometimes I surround myself with self help inspirational art books on creativity but often find that they are just another block to just getting myself in my studio and simply get to work and get over my sweet self. Over thinking just slows us down…

From: Carol Kardon — Mar 10, 2011

Yes! Yes!Yes! You are my cheerleader. I will put this current letter next to my mirror so first thing in the morning I will not forget what it is I have to do today! Hurrah for you and the letters! Many, many thanks for your wonderful thoughts and encourgement.

From: Susan Hirst — Mar 10, 2011

Others have given me great advice over the years. I had to move into and out of the artistic mode because of work, kids, etc. Here are some I keep on the wall. Have a place dedicated to creative work (critical), visit the place every day, preferably at the same time. Just push stuff around, or drink your coffee, or clean things up if you can’t work, but keep going there. I also think a good 3-4 day workshop can jump start working. You are forced to put together materials and given space and time and assignments to share. It’s been my most consistent way of moving from non-creative life into a creative space.

From: Maggie Van Ostrand — Mar 10, 2011
From: Joy Hellman — Mar 11, 2011

One of the most magical things about the creative process is the way that it takes you out of the self and transports you to the world of possibilities that you might not have dreamed of. It is like watching your hand move the colors on the canvas right before your eyes. It is the paint coming through your fingertips. It is magical, powerful, a joy, a gift from your muse coming not from you but through you!. Joy

From: Joy Hellman — Mar 11, 2011

I am working with the mandala in my art at this time and using it as a method for my creative work. I consider myself a transcendental artist and work with my intuition, shamanic journey process as well as various meditations as a method for tapping into a higher place for my art.I can definitely relate to your thoughts on painting as a spiritual event.

Artfully Yours,

Joy

Joy

From: Arnie Casavant — Mar 11, 2011

Robert, It is very helpful to hear that many others have periods of lack of modivation. I’ve been painting fast and furious since I retired from the classroom as an art teacher in Massachusetts. teaching, family and my lack of modivation kept me from being a serious artist. The past few weeks I’ve slowed down in my painting compared to the last two years. I guess it’s a period of self reflection ie: what do I paint, why do I paint, do I want to paint. I’ve accepted that to be normal and can see through your recent newslatters that others feel the same. Today I thought I was ready to start a new painting. I love the subject, I’m excited about it, yet I’m hesitant to begin. Why you ask. Because I don’t want it to end. I know that within a fews hours of starting the next painting I’ll be done. The excietment I get while painting, that feeling that you can’t wait to return to the canvas after a break will be over soon, has me hesitating. An interesting epiphany for me yet I’m sure others have felt the same. The art making process is so special I don’t want it to end. I don’t want the next painting to be finished.

From: Julia — Mar 11, 2011

Just paint or whatever you like to do, do it. Do not stop! Develop your own ideas and continue! This is a spot where your inner artists hide. Take fun workshop – not career dvelopment must to do workshop, but something different and enjoyable. Decorate your house with something self made and artsy, paint a chair, make greeting cards, slowly allow yourself to be creative – not to achive – this will come later. Inner artist is a child – it loves to play, but it is a little shy and easily discouraged by the pressures, expectations – let your child play and excell in what it loves to do. Your path to art is a lifetime journey – so stop reading all the guide books – jump in the train and make some sketches on the way, chat with people listen to their stories, share yours illustrating your journey, artist in you will come out like a cute snail out of the shell…So do not yell and discipline your child – give it the tools and time and PLAY!!!!!!

From: Jan Austin — Mar 11, 2011

I am a tapestry weaver, and last year I did a tapestry diary. This consisted of weaving a very small parallelogram every day. I had some rules for myself, but because every day was just one 365th of the total piece, I didn’t worry too much what each day looked like. It as a great way to try out lots of things. This year I am doing a sketch diary. A large piece of paper with 20 squares, each 4×4.” I just sketch something (I do have a theme for each page, like for example, a seashell), without planning, without expectations of a finished product, and without judgment. Again, every day is just one little part of the whole. It’s a great way to get into the studio every day, it only takes about 15 minutes, and then I often stay in there and do something else. It’s helping me get into the habit of working daily, and it’s also a great way to generate ideas.

From: PeggySu — Mar 12, 2011

The suggestion above to set a timer reminded me of a strategy that worked for me. I once promised to read a book that I found both difficult and boring. I managed to finish it by reading for exactly 15 minutes each day and NOT allowing myself to read even 1 second more after the timer rang. Simple reverse psychology but very effective at turning something I initially didn’t want to do into a positive experience.

From: Suzanne in Swansboro NC — Mar 12, 2011

Dear Darryl, I’m writing this before reading what others have written — I feel such a kinship with you because the struggle you describe has been the same one I have had for several years, since deciding I wanted to revive my dormant inner artist. What my experience has taught me is that it is never-ending but somehow does get a little easier each time I do put pencil or brush to paper. Workshops have definitely helped because they command performance and force me to see and enjoy how good I am — but doing a workshop does not directly translate into doing art at home. It is working better now to do a weekly class where there are exercises to complete for next time. It’s just one more example of that old persistence thing — ignore the inner critic and just do art when and where you can. Let the long gaps happen, then seize whatever opportunity comes along — workshop, class, walk in the woods or on the beach where you stop and stare at something that makes you want to draw.

In fact that’s one piece of advice I read somewhere that I really think works well to feed that inner artist and stimulate artistic appetite — to just sit somewhere and LOOK for an hour a day. Or 15 minutes, or whatever you can do. Just LOOK and imagine drawing or painting that scene.

Another thing that has helped me has been to put together a really small portable kit to take along anywhere, just in case — a pencil box with pencils, erasers, a tiny watercolor set (Chartpak’s watercolor wheel stackpack with 24 colors is about an inch thick and 3 inches in diameter and costs about $9), and a few small brushes wrapped inside a business envelope. Plus a thin 7×8 sketch book for kids I found at Starbucks last year and a small block of postcard-sized watercolor paper. When I was on vacation and couldn’t find any postcards, I used my kit. Also when I have seen a palm tree and decided I wanted to figure out how to paint a palm tree, I just started and made a series of postcard-sized sketches that I painted. Finished one, started another. Nothing serious, just for fun.

Good luck, Darryl! Just feed that guy and he will respond, love your inner artist and tell him you want him, he’s like God you know — always there saying yes and waiting for us to ask.

From: Muriel — Mar 16, 2011
From: Leslie K — Mar 20, 2011

I would suggest to join a local art guild/association/club. Also take a class. A BEGINNER’S class. You will be surprised how much you remember, feel smarter than the real beginners in the class (giving you confidence) but also be off the hook for producing any master pieces right away. Just make sure your teacher is not too much of a stick in the mud.

From: Sherry Hall Shelton — Mar 22, 2011

On occasion there are long periods of time that go by before I can settle down to work at the easel. Most of the time it is running the roads taking care of errands that just cannot be done by phone or mail.

I used to fret over it all until I realized that I am still ‘painting’. Everything I see is ‘cataloged’ as “look at that value, color or shape.” I never turn it off mentally. Then when I do get back to the easel I find that I’ve made a new plateau in proficiency of my work. I look forward to the ‘days off’ from the easel. I know my work is still growing.

For the last year I’ve been painting murals on location and have not worked in my studio at the easel. It’s refreshing to change mediums and scale.

I find, too, that sometimes I just need to clean up and organize the studio and as a bi-product I find that I am suddenly working on a new project and one thing leads to another. I’d tell Darryl not to worry but to put hands on the supplies in some way or another. Before you know it, you’ll be producing art again.

Hang in there. You are not alone.

 

 

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