Growth can be a hard thing. Sometimes it's hard because we resist it, we don't want to do the work, we don't want to accept something, or we feel safe in what we know. But sometimes growth is hard because we don't know what we don't know.
In a lot of ways I've been pushing myself pretty hard, artistically speaking. I've been putting in tons of hours, and pushing my style more. I usually paint intuitively; I don't often have a solid plan, outside of my subject. I just get to painting, and work it out as I go. The process itself if much like a conversation, and the conversation leads the way to the final piece. Right before I moved, I went through a phase where I was getting paintings completed much faster than normal. I thought I had hit a stride and advanced to a new way of working in which I'd be able to crank out paintings with great efficiency.
That turned out to be wistful thinking, and ironically I've felt that the last few paintings I have completed or that I am currently working on have been some of the most challenging. In some ways that conversational aspect of my process felt more like an argument.
The painting shown above (cropped) was one such piece. As soon as I transferred the photo from my camera to my computer I knew I wanted to paint it. I was excited to get started on it and thought it would just flow out with ease. That was not the case. Instead, I struggled and struggled with this piece. I changed this piece so many times. I shifted colors, I shifted shapes, I played with more texture, less texture, more light, less light. Nothing was feeling right, and not matter what I did I felt like the colors were sinking into themselves instead of shining, and my normal techniques were not working. Struggling to this extent with a painting was something new, and it was very frustrating. I even began to feel like a fraud, and my confidence was being affected. (That's not something I really want to admit, but I think we often hide our struggles and the real aspects of life when we'd be better off, as a species, if we learned to be more open.)
Anyway, the solution came from an unusual, and quirky way in which my artist brain works. I'll tell you about that in my next post, but in the meantime remember to be gentle with yourself, sometimes big lessons can be really challenging, but without the challenge you never grow.