one of my art journal pages from 2009
Sometimes, as artists, we take ourselves way too seriously. We feel pressured to produce amazing works of art to fill up our shops, blogs, and social media. In our minds, we have to paint perfect paintings, yet do perfect paintings even exist? I don’t think so. All this pressure we put on ourselves makes facing a blank canvas daunting at times. I’ve even found myself scrubbing the toilet, and mopping floors – doing anything to get out of going to my studio to paint. When I realized what I was doing, I was disappointed in myself. If you’re an artist, I’m sure you’ve been there, done that, too. Maybe you’re doing it now, procrastinating by reading this page. It’s okay, you can keep reading, just get yourself to the studio, and do this exercise when you’re finished. 😉
One way I’ve learned to deal with a blank canvas is to give my insufferable brain a rest. If I’m being too serious, and hard on myself, it’s time for some playtime to turn things around. Feeling pressured to create the next great masterpiece slowly starts to dissolve after I open up one of my art journals. I feel the knots in my shoulders softening, as I give myself permission to do whatever I like. You won’t find any perfect paintings on these pages. I purposely make a lot of bad art.
I didn’t notice the white heart until I uploaded the photo here. Love happy surprises like this!
Sometimes I draw my cat, Harold, and write him a note. I have no idea what it says because I gave myself permission to have bad handwriting, so I scribbled. These pages are messy, and fun to create. We all should be having fun in our studios everyday. If you’re not enjoying yourself, and it’s all about work, work, work, it gets old and boring. Trust me, I know. I painted well over 500 paintings to sell last year. Believe me, it wasn’t all cupcakes, glitter and lollipops. It was hard work, especially when it came to photographing and listing them all. Some days it felt like I was glued to my office chair. From the outside looking in, it probably seems like all we do is have fun and play with our crayons all day, but in reality? It’s a tough job with long hours, which artists take it very seriously. So when I’m doing these pages, it gives me a much needed break from all that, and allows me to relax.
Besides having fun, I also get to keep all of the paintings for myself. I don’t have to share them with anyone, if I don’t want to. When you’re a working artist, keeping something just for yourself means a lot. If we want to sell paintings online, we’re pretty much forced to put everything out there. I happen to love this art journal of mine, and I especially love that it’s mine, all mine. It has about 100 pages in it, and very few will ever see the light of day online. That keeps it sacred and special to me.
You know what happens when I do this little exercise? I’m forgetting about my worries of making something perfect or pretty. I’m playing, having fun, not thinking of the outcome. I don’t care what it looks like as I’m painting or after I’m finished. I’m in the moment, moving paint around. It loosens me up, and keeps me moving forward. I’m not sitting on the couch with the remote in my hand, giving up on art or myself. Heck no! That’s no way to be a real artist.
After making a couple pages like this, I’m grabbing one of those blank canvases that has been taunting me, and I get back to work. I’m well on my way to making my next painting, and probably several more after that because once I start, it’s hard to stop. Ideas keep flowing.
I hope you try this exercise. If you do, let me know how it goes in the comments below.
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