Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mind Games

Inspiration is my fickle companion in art - vitally important, but unpredictable and strong-willed. It can't be cajoled and makes an appearance only when it's good and ready. It appears from nowhere to deliver a fresh and exciting painting idea, filling me with enthusiasm for it to the exclusion of all else only to disappear again without trace, often before the idea has been fully realised. It deserts me without warning and cuts my enjoyment for the task off at the knees as it departs. From that point on I'm left stranded, with a hard slog ahead at best, and with abandonment of the painting often the ultimate outcome. Is this an inevitable state of affairs for those of us with an artistic temperament? Is there there some new mind game I don't know about that can hold inspiration captive?

As I ponder this, I'm almost driven to revert to smaller works once my current painting is done with, the thinking being that I'll be able to finish them before the spark of inspiration dies. How frustrating! How limiting!



DennyHollandStudio said...

Pete~ I too have resorted to smaller works from time to time and I actually find them liberating. I feel progress is achieved a lot quicker when I can hammer out the little ones. Also, a diminutive painting doesn't carry the weight of "ok, now I'm working on my masterpiece"!

Michael Bailey said...

If it makes you feel any better, you're not alone with feeling the abandonment of inspiration. I would bet that even Michelangelo dealt with this though he was superhuman and probably had the answer to the mind game. Keep on pluggin'!

Gary Keimig said...

yep. Was wondering where you were off to.
Hope you do do the final touches of your Egret. It is a great painting as far as I am concerned.
Somewhere is a great market for your work, Peter. You just have to find it. Your work is just too good. Sales, I know are a great motivator. Have you tried contacting galleries in the eastern Australia cities? Are there any there? Maybe even abroad?
Just keep at it.

Peter Brown said...

Denny, I'm sure inspiration will find me again - perhaps spicing things up with some smaller pieces will help. That, and choosing subjects less likely to become a drag; the potential for all those fig leaves to diminish my enjoyment should have been obvious!

Peter Brown said...

Michael, it's nice to think I have something in common with Michelangelo!

Peter Brown said...

Thanks for the comments Gary. Yes, I'm pleased with my egret painting too, which it makes it all the more frustrating that I can't muster enthusiasm for it at the moment. I have some distractions in the form of computer work at present too, and making the transition between the two activities can often be difficult - I don't multi-task very well!

You're probably right about sales being a motivator. Two galleries I contacted with a view to distributing prints didn't return my calls. Two others, which I visited in person, told me they liked my work but had found wildlife art impossible to sell in the past and therefore weren't interested. It's difficult to remain positive in the face of that message!

Sally McLean said...

What about self exhibiting? Here in Brisbane we have a couple of galleries which you can hire all of or part of for a week or more to exhibit your work. They handle invitations and marketing etc. I have not tried it but it may be a good place to start depending on the economics of it.
I think this post of yours is almost poetic. You write well!

Dean Richards said...

Question: do you create your art for a living, to support yourself? My guess is no... with that said who do you make it for? Customers, a market?
I ask this because long ago I stopped trying to make my artwork my profession. Once I stopped making art for a perceived customer I was liberated. I work hard at my business so I can afford NEVER to sell any artwork. I make each and every drawing to please myself and myself alone. I would never have progressed the way I have if I was pandering to a market.
Stop to honestly think about who you are creating for. Make the mental shift to please your own muse, no one elses. Make the mental shift to create a work with no intention of sales, prints or galleries. Create something that excites YOU and I think you'll find that inspiration is abundent and your inhibitions will fall away, your willingness to let it all hang out will offer itself up.
I'm feel happy knowing that what I draw is my passion. Sometimes I can't sleep with anticipation for the next days effort.
Follow your heart, be true to yourself and if you REALLY have something honest to say people will listen.

Peter Brown said...

Sally, thanks, your idea has merit - I don't know whether the equivalent is available here in the west although I do know of a local venue which can be hired on a weekly basis for exhibition purposes.

An obvious alternative to sales through galleries is to exhibit in the various local art fairs, which are often run under the banner of a local government body. Commissions on sales are often lower than galleries, although there's usually an entry fee. After a search on the internet, I'm in the process of putting a spreadsheet together which records all such shows in my home state, together with closing dates, categories, and anything else of relevance. I'm hoping that by being better organised and a little more pro-active, I can eventually generate some sales.

Peter Brown said...

Dean, what you say makes a lot of sense (as usual!) - thanks for the thoughtful response. I guess the ultimate situation for me would be where I could support myself by a number of means, art included. I'm afraid I tend to have a short attention span in the sense that I focus intently on a project but become distracted very easily by something new, whether it's a fresh painting idea or something entirely unrelated like a software project or my woodworking hobby.

I do choose subjects that excite me rather than trying to anticipate what "the market" is most likely to demand. I think it's early days for me yet though; I'm sure the interest in wildlife art is there - it's just a matter of identifying the appropriate outlets, whether in my local area, interstate, or maybe even overseas.

Dean Richards said...

You sound like a man with a plan and the desire to follow through. I stand ready to assist with any advice that may help. Keep up the good fight!

Peter Brown said...

Thanks Dean!

April Jarocka said...

Peter we all have that fickle companion. I think smaller is going to be the way forward in this economic climate, so I wish you all the best. Thanks for your comment at my wordpress blog. Yes, I am very determined to do this project and make it work.

Anonymous said...

Hi post reminds me of what a great mind once said...Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. - Mark Twain
Hang in there Peter. You have to be married to each and everything you create...this is a good thing!

Peter Brown said...

Thanks for the comment Scott - much appreciated. Thankfully, my determination to finish the egret painting is growing by the day. Finding some other, clearer reference photos taken at the same spot has given my spirits a boost and will make the task of completing the remaining leaves a little easier. The quality - or lack of quality - of the reference photos I used initially has contributed to my enjoyment of this painting, as well as the difficulties I've had with it.