Sunday, September 15, 2013

Feel The fear And Do It Anyway

I have many creative ideas to the point that I'll need, as a friend once told me, to live forever to finish even a portion of them. Having a block is never a problem with me but anxiety is. Not beginning a project because I think it's beyond my capabilities has meant I will often put off work till tomorrow deluding myself that I will magically become Leonardo De Vinci while I sleep. Another day means another bout of procrastination and then a week turns into a month with very little of worth done in the art line.

Deadlines always helped me to paint something. Entering an exhibition means I have to complete work although I might not begin painting until the last minute, sometimes working until 3am and sending the painting in barely dry. Not only does this mean that I can convince myself that I can't do any better because of the time issues it's also stopped me endlessly reworking a picture which in a way is a good thing.

I have learned to embrace these foibles of mine. I know the panic I feel in the middle of painting will pass, that I can only do the best I can do at the time. Instead of looking at the entire work and thinking "I can't do this, it's too much" I'll tell myself I have half an hour spare and I should try to finish the eyes or the hair or slop in some background. Working in small bites of time really helps although discovering what times of day I work best has been a major development for me recently. For example I enjoy working late morning and mid afternoon plus some of my best work has been done late at night. If I need a nap I'll take one so that I can come back fresh. Tiredness just feeds anxiety.

In late May I attended "The Art Of Innovation" workshop run by Alice and Jonathan Milne of The Learning Connexion which pointed out many of my hang ups and worries plus encouraging me to find solutions to overcoming them. Listening to the other participants I realized I was not on my own in feeling inadequate whether it was having a messy house in one case to having health issues in another. My solution was to constantly have a goal or deadline before me and to feel the fear and do it anyway.

My first fearful deadline was to enter two 4" x 4" paintings into Electra Gallery's "Small Works" exhibition in early June. I didn't step too far out of my box and stuck with my tried and true animal portraiture. The first work is of a mini lop bunny called "Loppy". I gessoed the canvas black and then spent some time building up fur in glazed layers of acrylic.
"Loppy" an acrylic painting on 4" x 4" boxed canvas

Everything is better in pairs so I teamed Loppy up with another popular breed, a Dutch bunny called "Lapin". I have kept rabbits since 1986 so it was with some amusement in my family that when I searched for my biological mother we discovered her maiden name was Lappin. I was truly a bunny girl born and bred.
"Lapin" another acrylic painting on 4" x 4" boxed canvas
The next exhibition of note in the area was the annual "Art Extravaganza" at the Pukeora Estate in Waipukurau. This is probably the biggest exhibition in Hawkes Bay these days with entries coming in from around New Zealand. I have entered six times, been accepted five and sold twice so it's something I always try to paint towards. For two years I have intended to complete a huge painting developing a drawing I did several years ago. I even bought a 20" by 40" canvas (the largest I would have ever attempted) which leaned against the easel reproachfully for months before I gave up and opted for safety completing a small cat painting instead.
"Kitteh" an acrylic painting on 8" x 8" boxed canvas
Of course I knew they'd think I'd mistyped the title so the painting was displayed as "Kitten" but I had some positive feedback from those who saw it although no sales (well we've been through a severe drought here this year so all the farmers are broke and not buying art).

My next goal is to finally complete that huge canvas. I've gessoed it and chalked in the outlines and it's staring at me from an armchair in the sitting room. I've got my first solo exhibition in November this year and I have no choice but to get it done. Plus I have a website to complete and two markets to prepare for. So now I am feeling the fear big time but picking up a brush nevertheless.

No comments: