So I finished a painting today. And started it four hours before I finished. Not particularly remarkable, one could say, but it is a nice painting at this point, sitting there waiting for me to study it over the next few days and see if I ought to tweak it or just let it be.
Still not remarkable, except for one thing.
Beneath this painting, scraped and sanded down to a nondescript blue-gray, is the evidence of the painting I had been doing, the painting that would not work no matter what, that turned into mud at every turn, and which was one of those paintings where you are interrupted so often you forget what you were looking at - yes, it was one of those paintings that almost convinced me to never paint again.
Except for another thing: if you are trying to be creative, no matter in what area, you have to learn to love frustration. Because frustration tells you that you need to stop, just for a moment or a day, and take a deep breath. It tells you that what you are doing is not working, and whether that is due to a technical problem or a weakness in your design or the consistency of your paint or a paint-clogged brush or the fact that you are not thinking about your brushwork - what is not working is something you can fix. It is not your creativity that is at fault. It is not your artistic vision that has run away.
It is something you can fix.
And that is what is remarkable. Because no matter how frustrated, or discouraged, or tempted to never pick up a paint brush again, the nature of the artist is to rebound and to attack that problem again with a new strategy. It may take a day for the rebound. Or a week. But trust that it will come.
In the meantime, do what you can to identify what was not working and then problem solve. Because what frustration really boils down to is your inner voice telling you that inspiration alone will never will save your butt.
Juniper, oil, 8 x 10 - Accepted into the OPA Salon Show of Traditional Oils
to be hosted by Crooked Tree Arts Center, Inc, in Petoskey, Michigan,
June 21 through August 31, 2013