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Intuition

by Stacey Peterson on 6/4/2014 7:58:09 AM

This post is by guest author, Stacey Peterson.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 25,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.

 

 

I've been in a bit of an art funk lately. 

Have you ever had times like this, where you just aren't feeling super excited about your work? Producing a lot, but just not feeling the love for anything that you’re churning out? I seem to visit this place a few times a year, and while I can usually give myself a pep talk to remind myself that I’m probably learning something, it’s still frustrating to put in the hours and not see immediate results. 

I’ve devoted a lot of space on this blog to being disciplined, setting goals, building up brush mileage, and just putting in the time to get where you want to be. The left-brained engineer in me wants to think elbow grease is the solution to just about everything. But the artist in me knows that I don’t have it quite right, and so I have a confession to make – I’ve had it wrong. 

Art isn’t all about putting in the time, or being disciplined. It can’t be. Sometimes, it’s more about tapping into your intuition. It’s finding that point where technique doesn’t matter so much as looking deeper into your soul, and trying to translate that gut feeling you have about your subject onto the canvas. It’s passion.

Sometimes, the more hours you put in, the more frustrated you get. And when that happens, you need to give yourself some space - breathe in, breathe out, and really feel what you’re trying to do.

I’ve had a crazy month, with deadlines and travel and general life chaos. The weeks that I’ve been home, I’ve been painting like mad. Most nights, I put the kids to bed and hit the studio to squeeze in a few more hours of painting. I’m tired, but I’ve gotten a lot done. I've knocked out some larger studio pieces, done a lot of marketing work, checked stuff off the to-do list.   I've been nothing if not productive. But I haven’t been excited about any of my work. 

Normally, even if a painting isn’t my best, there will be something about it to get me excited – I’ll be into the brushwork in a certain section, or something I’m trying to do with color, or changing it up with design. But lately, I’ve been feeling lackluster about everything. I step up to the easel with a checklist in mind. “Block in 30x40, paint sky, paint water, touch up trees.” When the studio turns into a production line, this happens – inspiration runs and hides.

So, I finally realized this a few days ago. As I scraped the painting I worked on all weekend, it hit me like a ton of bricks - I’ve been doing, not FEELING. 

I know that sounds like an artsy-fartsy thing to say, but it’s critical. To me, it’s often what separates an amazing piece of art from one that is simply well-executed. The work we drool over in museums and books? That’s inspired stuff. Look at a painting by Sorolla, or Payne, or Sargent, or Levitan, and you’ll see the work of a man whose work transcended technique. You’ll see a work of art that has soul. Yeah, those guys knew how to paint, but they also knew how to get you right in the gut with the emotion of a scene. When all is said and done, that’s what makes a master. That’s the stuff that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck when you look at an amazing piece of art.

Discipline is essential, but in the end we learn good technique and put in the hours so that when inspiration hits, we have the skill to translate that feeling into a painting that sings.

So, how do you get there when the studio looks like an assembly line? I’m still working that out for myself, and I think it will be a life-long project for me, but it starts with making some space to reflect. 

When I realized what I was doing the other day, I stopped what I was doing, looked around at the chaos, and realized my painting marathon was doing me no favors. I cleaned up my studio, I went for a walk in the woods, I did some yoga. I sat quietly for a bit and thought about what I want to do with my painting - not in a technical sense, but in an emotional sense. What do I feel about the landscape that I want to say with my paintings? How would I like them to affect other people? Then I reminded myself to get out of my head, and to paint intuitively. I slowly started something new. I spent a lot of time reminding myself to chill out, to breathe in, to feel. Will it be a masterpiece? Probably not. But I’m already more excited about what I’m doing than I was a few days ago, and that’s where I need to be to do my best work.


“You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn't nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.” 

 

 

 

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Editor's Note:  You can view Stacey's original post here.

 


 

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Topics: advice for artists | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration 

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 9 Comments

Marsha Hamby Savage
via faso.com
I do believe with your post, you were reading my mind! This has happened more often in the last couple or three years than anytime in the past. I feel like a production machine ... for shows, competitions, galleries, or at paint outs. I want to just "play" ...

You have said some good things here that I need to take to heart. Thank you!

Karen Burnette Garner
via faso.com
Well said. I also tend to let the rational mind drive the car, but what sets artists apart is what is going on in the other side of the brain...the part that ebbs and flows with ideas and perceptions, things that are FELT. It is one of the things that draws us to create in the first place. Good article!

Ann Vaillencourt
via faso.com
There is such a difference between creating and producing. Letting life engulf us-the moments of each day strike us and impact us is the emersion into living that energizes. Tragedy, comedy, the emotions of every day are fuel for my best work. Expecting weariness and emptiness to drain us is self consoling and helpful. Remembering that the birds sing every morning not because they have reason to but simply because they have a song is enough.

Judy
via faso.com
Stacey, I was introduced to your paintings through a friend and have recently been following your work. You certainly grabbed me with this article dated 6/4 on intuition - beautifully written and spot on!

Thank you for reminding me to balance my logical side with my intuition. Over time I've been able to realize that these two sides are actually married in a loving relationship, and both need their moment to shine. Best, Judy

Scott
via faso.com
Youve touched on the age old problem. Ann hit it it right on the head.
"There is such a difference between creating and producing"....
Most of us return to our easels to re-capture that great feeling we get when we create something we are proud of. But, as working artists, we are impelled to produce work... to make our livings, or at least, justify our obsession.
I'm always tickled by the two very obviously different mind sets of artists (often TWO mindSETS in the SAME mind). Balancing between being a creative artist, and a successful selling, or "producing" artist is the Conundrum of our being.

Lucky and skilled is the artist who can repeatedly produce work that both he and his patrons are proud of....

Just keep on singing your song.... :-)

Patrice Federspiel
via faso.com
Well said Stacey! You are definitely on the right track. We need both, the hours of brush time AND the inspiration to create the paintings that not only nourish our souls, but also those of the world.
Paint On! Patrice

Marian Fortunati
via faso.com
Thanks, Stacey..
Beautifully written and heartfelt... and so appropriate to so many of us.

When I get that way, the best way to get out of it is to go outside to paint. Even if I paint a stinker, it just feels so good!!!

I'm sure you'll get out of that funk soon!!

Sharon Weaver
via faso.com
This happens to every artist at some point, usually many times. Getting through it can be challenging but it does get better. I sense a breakthrough just around the corner.

Stacey Peterson
via faso.com
Thank you everyone for all of the kind and encouraging comments on this post! I wrote this a few months ago and have since worked through a lot of the frustrations I was feeling at the time, but I think these are things that a lot of us deal with, whether we talk about it or not. I think it's normal to bounce back and forth between times where we feel really inspired and emotionally connected with our work, and times where it doesn't come so easily but we force ourselves to put in the time anyhow. I think both are extremely valuable to our growth as artists, and being aware of this side of the process can help us figure out where to go when we find ourselves stuck.

Happy painting all!










 

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