Monday, January 26, 2009

Flying Girl and the Migration, or Flock

Flying Girl and the Migration, or Flock
Golden Fluid Acrylic, Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils on paper, 5x7

What is it I have to say? I do not even know. Perhaps it's because I am going through some sort of migration myself, and so can only see things from a distance. I am unable to see the details right at this moment. I am looking at movement and progress and dreams and goals and the past and the future. It's all very not grounded, it's just busy. Maybe that's why there's no horizon or land in this picture.

But I'm not even saying that's a bad thing at this moment. Part of the reason why is because I am getting near the 4 week mark of the portfolio project, and I am beginning to examine my progress so far. And in looking at that, I am beginning to look at what I want to focus on in the weeks ahead.

One third done with this puppy and well... I think my goals were meant for a woman without a 24 hour job as toddler wrangler.

Plus, I think I may have been pretending that I didn't still have to overcome my always struggles with the issues that I am now tackling. I may be closer than ever, but I am still chicken when it comes to putting my work out there as a professional.

That stuff doesn't go away. You may learn coping strategies, maybe even you learn to love the adventure, but I don't know how that deep insecurity goes away. Oh, maybe it does. Maybe it only feels like it doesn't when you're in the middle of it. Maybe that insecurity gets taken over by some other insecurity when you do finally manage to conquer it.

So in the end, it almost doesn't matter if I do indeed conquer my fears about being a fraud. (I just recently realized that's what a lot of it is about, that I'm faking, not a real artist or writer, just a poor kid pretending.) If I get over these fears, new ones will step up to take their place. So what matters is finding coping strategies for tackling your blockages.

An Incomplete List of Blockage Knockage-Downers

1. Lower the consequences. Make big things smaller. Break large goals into small pieces. A novel might be scary to you, but perhaps a chapter/short story at a time is manageable. Not a whole elaborate poem, but one that you can write on the subway from one stop to the next, or waiting in the car for that really long light to turn green. Maybe photos of your kids or your breakfast or your view outside your window are less frightening than the thought of being a "real" photographer who has models and stuff like that. For me, big paintings FREAK ME OUT. I never want to mess up or waste paint. I don't know where to start or where to set up even. Instead, years ago, I bought a tiny pad of 6x8" watercolor paper and a tiny travel watercolor set and would carry it with me. Nothing ever had to be special. All I needed was some time and something pretty to paint and I could sit down and whip something out. If it sucked, I could move on to the next. That period produced some of my very favorite and most well received paintings.

2. Switch media. Writing not going well for you? Paint a picture or play the guitar. For extra credit, paint a picture that reminds you of your writing. Collage a character study, make a map of your setting, sing a song that might be playing in the background. And if painting is stuck, try writing a poem about images you can't get away from. Keep your head in the writing game while using a different part of it to create. You know what also works? Turning on some music and dancing. That works too. Get that energy flowing and then sit back down to your project.

3. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Force yourself to work through the block. But only require that fifteen minutes (or alternately, require yourself to meet a quota-- 1000 words, or one painting a night.) Make a log or chart to mark your quota. Give yourself a sticker every time you meet a goal. Get so many stickers and get a treat. Hey, it's how I potty trained my son. Me, I just like to draw some graphs and rewards don't work for me, but it's about trying to find what works for you. If you keep moving, you push through your block. By refusing to give in to the "I can'ts" you actually end up doing what you were afraid you couldn't. No one says you have to love that stuff, the point is, you didn't give up the game, and I bet you will find some gems inside of that struggle.

4. Have you been working too hard and exhausting yourself? Are you blocked because you just need to stop and rest???? Then give yourself a break! Not working can be as important as working to art. Give yourself a night or two to just do things for yourself and not demand that you be productive. Beware though, that you don't take too much time off and lose your momentum. You want to build up good habits, and you don't want to lose your routine.

5. Oh, did I say you should get yourself a routine? You should. Whatever works for you, but something that gets your body in a habit of working. If you always sit down after the kids go to bed, turn on the tv and start painting, then if you don't paint... your night will feel empty and just WRONG. You may get tired of your routine, but it will keep you working even when you are struggling.

I'm going to stop here with my motivations, because there are five red birds in the painting, and I like to not overwhelm with too much info at once.

By the way, as I look at it, these suggestions aren't only good for creative pursuits. I can see how each of these techniques could help me in my struggle with house keeping. Or they could help with homework or studying. They could help with child rearing. I should have used some of these techniques when I was potty training the boy (although I did use the chart).

See, as life goes, so does art.


Anonymous said...

I've been cataloging my library and in the process I check out the authors to see if they have anything new I've missed. I was reading one authors blog and an interview with her. Now here is faily prolific mystery author, I think a new book every year or two. She holds a full time job and while her children are now mostly grown they weren't when she started. She says that gets up at 4:30 each morning and writes for one (or maybe it was two) hours with a goal of five pages before preparing for work and the day ahead. She said she doesn't write at night because her mind is just too caught up in the everyday (my words but her meaning). And of course there are days when this just isn't possible. But she has her routine.

And I can remember reading other authors say their "secret to success" is to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to writing. And how somtimes they "just show up at the page" - maybe they don't make the said goal of five pages - but they show up even if it is only five lines. And always they seem to just pick up where they left if if necessary.

Something to think about.

Is your mind more attuned to writing at some time - and to painting at another?

If you carve out the time for yourself to write or paint consistently you establish a routine that your creative brain - and especially with spouse and children, your family - come to recognize and respect.

Take it from someone with a definate lack of focus - goals won't do it - only focus.

Which brings me to an artist talking about painting who said - ever notice how if you give yourself permission to just paint anything you end up not painting anything - the solution is to decide on a theme, like I will paint a dog - no more direction then that - and you'll find that the block to painting will usually be removed - because your creative brain begins to come up with ideas for a dog.

A long 10cents worth.

mapelba said...

You are no fraud.

jess gonacha said...

this painting is lovely, rowena, and your advice to burst through blocks is wonderful- thank you!

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