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Deb Ward Art Blog

What was I thinking?

by debward , April 5, 2008—10:30 AM

Topics: painting

I__™m having one of those days.

Do you ever think you can paint " or have some artistic talent - and then you look around to see work that just blows you away and then you think ___What was I thinking? I can™t paint (draw, sculpt, fill in the blank). Now THERE is a painter (sculptor, fill in the blank)!___

Even after I tell myself not to compare my work to other__™s work, what do I do but compare myself to other__™s work! Will I never learn! Will I ever truly get beyond caring what others think? Is it only me? Or do you feel that way too?

The painting posted here is my most recent watercolor. I feel like I__™m just about equally good in watercolor, acrylic and casein and still like realism, but for the first time I__™m feeling a need to move beyond that, but not exactly into abstraction. I can__™t seem to put my thoughts onto paper. Can you feel my confusion???

Guess I__™ll just keep plugging away over here in the slow lane of the artistic highway until something prompts my next breakthrough. Guess it will come in due time, like most things in life.




  Mary Lawler ( homepage )

04/07/2008 * 13:34:41

Hi Deb,
I wish I had a dollar for all the times I have seen other, better, artists work and wanted to go home and throw out my pens and brushes. I do it a little less now, when I see better work I try to learn from it instead of being discouraged by it. We are where we are and we do what we do. A little simplistic maybe but we have to believe it.
I do have a couple of sketchbooks that I try to remember to keep nearby. A small one for my purse, a medium one for the table next to where I watch television. and a larger one in the studio. I'd love to tell you that I work in all of them all the time, but I don't. It's off and on, but when I thumb through them I see ideas I'd forgotten. I also see how my drawing improves, with practice, over time. Be content to do things well, if you push yourself for the sake of pushing yourself, you will get frustrated. When it's time for a new approach, a new medium or subject you will know it, because it will present itself to you. If you keep perfecting your techniques while you wait you will be ready to put that inspiration to work. Your work is skillful and beautiful and I am sure others look at your work and feel discouraged. By the way you have a lot of very good company on that slow highway, and you have the best view.


  Deb Ward ( homepage )

04/07/2008 * 10:34:44

Thanks for the comments and insight. Per the suggestion of a friend, I keep a computer journal for my thoughts, etc., but only periodically try the sketchbook idea. I'll be getting it out again - like every habit, it takes time! Until I figure out what I'm trying to do (??) guess I'll keep on doing what I'm doing. It's not that I'm unhappy with my work; maybe it's that I feel a need to push myself and I'm not pushing hard enough right now, too many things in the way. Or maybe I just need to find my contentment in doing something reasonably well. Sometimes I think we have become so driven that we can't stop and enjoy what we have achieved!


  Caroline Henry ( homepage )

04/06/2008 * 18:27:15

Oh, indeed, I do look at contemporary and ancient works which take my breath away and wonder what I am doing. I also feel crushed for an instant or a day when I enter a juried show and am totally turned away. Yet, I can usually get back to that point of contentment in being me and striving to be a better version of the artist Caroline Henry, because I don't have the option of being anyone else. And the joy is in the journey, isn't it, right along with the struggle and metaphorical 'sore feet".

And while I comprehend your discontent, I do love your work.


  Michael Mize ( homepage )

04/05/2008 * 17:59:32

"I can't seem to put my thoughts onto paper."

I think that's exactly what you need to do! Do you keep a sketchbook/journal? If not, I cannot recommend adopting the habbit highly enough. Especially if you're feeling compelled to change something about your work.

There is a very comfortable safety in a sketchbook because no one else will ever likely see it, so you're free to really get experimental. There is a certain vulnerabilty to trying new things on canvas since it is much more public. And it's hard to not superimpose our own expectations, or worse, what we think others expectations may be, onto our timid new attempts. However, in a sketchbook you can playfully tinker and noodle about with things with a boldness and conviction that we might sometimes lack in "normal" style of work. Often times, that enthusiasm will spill over into whatever new work the sketchbook generates.

You can take notes, jot down hair-brained ideas and other crazy thoughts. You never know when today's wacky notions will be tomorrow's brilliant insight. And sometimes, when you don't know what to change, the sketchbook becomes an ideal labratory for isolating variables. Change your media, method, or style and see what happens. If you don't like, no worries, it's just your sketchbook. If you love it, well, there you go!

P.S. And by the way, I look at other artist's work all the time and ask myself, "Why do I even try?" But then I remind myself the answer is: because I have to, it feeds my soul.



04/05/2008 * 16:51:37

Hi Deb, Hey with a painting like that--you dont have anything to worry about. You do such great work. I know just exactly how you feel--I am the same way--I guess I am my worst critique. But I just keep plugging away at it. Hoping to get one that I really, really love. Oh well, maybe one day. Millie

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