Doldrums

Here’s something you probably don’t want to know…

I’m going to admit to something about my art. It’s been suffering. I am suffering in the doldrums. I’ve debated whether I should put these thoughts on my blog for all to see. I don’t like people to know I’ve been plagued with such self-doubt (when it comes to my art), but here I am. And I’ve been going through this for the last couple of years, like a goddamn roller-coaster. Haven’t you seen the signs?

Well, it’s not like I’ve been lacking in the idea department. I have lots of those. Imagery flings like paint through my brain faster than I can keep track of. It’s hard to pick one idea and jot it down. When I try to isolate a single concept, it slips out from my grasp like a slippery worm. I often sit there at my sketchbook staring at a blank page, and then, I’ll sadly drift off to sleep. What kind of artist am I?

Nearly the same thing happened to me about a year after my parents died. It went on a long-ass time, like a year. It wasn’t like I wasn’t producing art, and it’s not like I’m not producing any now. It’s about my feelings and confidence. It’s about direction. It’s about indecision.

I finally went to see an art advisor, Ellie Blankfort. I didn’t think I’d ever do something like that, or have to, but I got desperate. I’m so glad I did because, through those sessions, I learned all about the eye-book. And that was the fix.

I’ll admit, I haven’t done the eye-book exercises in a very long time. I think it’s because I moved twice in two years and never got back into my groove. Ever since, I’ve been crazy. Want to read just how crazy? You’ll get to see the self-talking that goes on in my head in a minute. 

After the first move, I all but quit oil painting. I stored my supplies and had very little access to them. I didn’t have a proper studio, and honestly, once I started packing everything up, I saw what an alarming storage dilemma I had on my hands. Then I vowed never to make another painting for the rest of my life. It had to be on paper; otherwise, I felt like I was contributing to wasted space. I was afraid to make more clutter. I secretly wished for an accidental fire in my storage space. All those unsold paintings were like an albatross around my neck. It still is.

Now I have my oil painting supplies with me in my painting room. I still have a few blank canvases and panels left. Using them will not make further clutter. Once I cover them, I don’t know what I will do. I just haven’t been able to make real decisions about my art in general. 

I keep thinking I know what direction I want to go. I feel sure of it. Then I completely change my mind. Yet, when I have a show or a deadline, I certainly know how to get my act together. What’s up with that?

Is the reason for this just one thing? One answer? Being that media largely directs what I do, this can be part of it. If I’m really going to be phasing out oil painting, I only have so many substraights left. Very few. That’s a lot of pressure to each get them “right.” That would count for one little part.

But I think the main issue is indecision. Do I want to make funky landscapes, abstracts, or something new? Am I still experimenting to find something new, or did I already find that when I started doing the eye-book? Maybe I just need to go back to that. But is that going backward or forward? Is that an evolution or a circle? I want to take risks, not play it safe. But the eye-book is definitely not playing it safe. It’s very self-revealing. But is that how I want to take my artistic “risks?” And won’t I miss oil painting? How am I going to quit that? Will it be like quitting smoking? 

I know I don’t have to quit oils. I can do whatever the hell I want. I don’t have to paint in a consistent manner, or in a chronological series. I don’t have to make a series of paintings that will all work together in a show. But I’ll admit, I am kind of brainwashed to think that way. I feel like I’m not a real artist when I don’t. Don’t real working artists paint pictures that all look the same? Okay, I exaggerate, but it seems like it. But when someone looks at a random painting of mine–Dan, a landscape, an abstract, can they honestly say that’s a Carol Es? Who fucking knows? And maybe that doesn’t matter in the scheme of the universe.

Somebody help me. I’m melting.

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