Thursday, 10 July 2014

Beating the Block

My name is Jarnie, and I have Painter's Block. There, I have said it, and it's out in the open. I feel so much better for sharing that, but how to get over it? Well, let's face it, it's not an impossible task and it's certainly not like trying to find the best way for mankind to get to Mars. So, let's get things in proportion here and get over it.

My first attempts at trying to break the block, didn't really work this time. Normally, if I go back to an older piece and give it some oomph, with extra depth and tone, and a little touching up here and there, I feel so much better and move on. But not this time.

Suitable for framing?

Adding some more depth to this chilli didn't really break the block.
Although, it's a much better piece now.
So much so, I think I might take it out of the sketchbook,
and frame it 

I liked adding more to this one, and it actually looks quite good now.
But this didn't break the block either.

Just recently, I read a great little piece by my good friend and fellow artist and blogger, Sigrid Frensen on exactly this topic, and immediately thought, 'she knows exactly how I feel right now, and how to do something about it', great. Here's my summarisation.

Like all first steps, the first thing to do is, make a cup of tea. Well, that's always a good starter for me, and Sigrid is evidently a woman after my own heart. Tea solves all ills. Next, (and this is the trickier part) get a plan together. Small, simple sketches of simple shapes such as leaves and berries are a good way to get the feel for the drawing process again, and if things go a bit awry, it doesn't matter. Using a sketchbook rather than watercolour paper feels less intimidating and keeps everything just between you and your book. Before you know it, you will have something down, and start to feel as if you have achieved something. It's all about getting back to basics, and remembering to really 'look' at plants. 

Well, I got this far.
Studies of honeysuckle for the Sketchbook Exchange.
But then the courage left me. 

The next step is to get together some quick sketches and thumbnails organised into little compositions. Something that looks like it might become a painting later on, but nothing definite yet. This process is very comfortable for me as it fits in with my usual thought process for getting ideas down. Sometimes I will come up with 10 - 15 of these little vignettes, just for one painting. Once you get this far, it's time to leave things be for a bit. Sitting in the garden with a cuppa or doing a spot of pottering is a nice way to let the mind relax and wander. Later on, go back and take another look at your efforts. Pick the one that works best.

How my brain works

Working out compositions for a red onion study
Just above is a bit of the colour chart I made

Now you have something that can be worked up into a little study, but again, nothing too complete or perfect. At this point the colour can be introduced, and once more, swatches of textures, colour charts, tests and mixes can be played around with. The important thing is not to rush yourself, and don't beat yourself up about it. leave it be for a while and come back to it later. Look at your work from a short distance, see if it's coming together. Do this a few times, to get the feel for the direction of the piece. Now is the time to correct, and you're almost back in business. Just take deep breaths and take your time, (oh, and plenty of tea). A chat with a painterly friend also helps, and no-one will think any the worse of you. Being honest yourself can often be a reflection of how others are feeling too.

I really like the perspective on this one.
A little Rhododendron cilpinense
© Jarnie Godwin 

The photo helped with this one.
©Jarnie Godwin

Time with a friend helps too.
A relaxed afternoon led to us getting the paints out.
Chocolate Cosmos
Not the easiest of subjects, but mixing all the delicious colours
was so much fun.

As I have said before, (and Sigrid agrees here too), you have to Enjoy What You Do. After all, nature is our work place and she does all she can to help us. 

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