View Full Version : Struggling...

06-12-2004, 11:49 AM
Hi everyone,

It's been a while since I've posted in here and I haven't painted for the last couple of months. My husband, who is in the guard, was deployed to Iraq and has spent the last month in Texas training. He doesn't go over to Iraq until November and then that lasts for about year. I've been in here looking at everyone else's work, which is fantastic I might add, trying to get myself inspired again. How do you get out of a slump??? I've been taking reference pictures on my walks, buying art magazines and I "think" about painting everyday, but find a dozen other things to fill my time instead. What is that about?? Anyway, I'm just venting because I'm so frustrated with myself and I figure you guys are the only ones that truly understand this...whatever this is. Does someone out there have a cure??...or maybe a kick in the butt? :(


06-12-2004, 12:18 PM
Yep- do the June Pastel Project- make it an ASSIGNMENT.

Sigh, and curse, and figure it "won't be any good" all you want, just don't let your self talk yourself out of doing it. Do it NOW. Go on- get started.

Or, try one of the WDE's today- it's only two hours, and who cares how it comes out? You don't even have to post it- and no one will know but you. Sometimes, to get out of a slump, you gotta haul yourself out and it's hard work.

Now I mean it- go on- get out of here- reading this stuff is distracting you from doing your job- which is painting SOMETHING- ANYTHING- TODAY. Go on- shooo! We'll be here when you get back, promise.

To you and hubby- my thoughts and best wishes.

06-12-2004, 12:31 PM
What SBJ said....DO it! I know exactly what you're talking about. Life seems to dream up stuff to keep me from working on art lately and I've gotta quit letting extranea rule my life....I know it's not easy. Buy hey, I'll make you a deal....you get busy and I'll get busy and we'll meet back here Monday afternoon with WHATEVER we manage to get done...how's that? We won't worry if it's great art, we won't even worry if it's rotten...but we'll bring SOMEthing to this thread by Monday afternoon. Deal?

Deborah Secor
06-12-2004, 01:12 PM
You have a new normal to become accustomed to, and it's not easy, but be sure to build art into your life now so it becomes a part of everyday living and not just a treat you have to work up to. It's a valid and important part of what a creative person does, not a frivolous waste of time to be relegated only to the realm of entertainment. Just as we read every day, why not paint every day? It's as basic as that!

I leave you in good hands with good advice already, Monica! Julie and Sooz have made a good point--talking art is not the same as DOING it. Have fun, take some risks, don't be too product oriented and just go for it.

And my prayers and thanks go with you and your husband.


Paula Ford
06-12-2004, 01:19 PM
Listen to Julie, Sooz and Deborah, their advice is GREAT!!

My prayers and thanks go out to your husband also.

We're always here for you Monica.


06-12-2004, 01:41 PM
At the risk of being accused of playing devil's advocate I'm going to wax philosophical.....Periods of "slumps" are, in my mind,are part of the big plan,.... akin to the dormancy a seed experiences during the winter months....while you can't see it, you are preparing to bloom in all the glory of spring. Placing one's self in situations like the WDE (which is today with pics posted at 3;30pm EST) is like exposing the sleeping seed to warm sunshine and rain.. (gosh, that sure was sugery sweet, but I think I made my point :) )

06-12-2004, 11:27 PM
Nice analogy! I was busy moving heavy paper cabinets at 3:30 today, tho. I'll have to be late.

Lisa Olivarez
06-13-2004, 12:16 AM
Hi Monica,
I was sorry to hear that you are struggling. I wonder if what you're feeling is a part of a grieving process, and, as Deborah said, adjusting to a new normal of every day life apart from your husband. I think Preston's thoughts are valid. Sometimes we have to live underground in the dank earth for awhile before we burst forth. I think it's cool that a seed actually has to die to become a plant, doesn't it? Does that make me a sicko??? :confused: No, really, I just mean that you could allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, and go through the natural cycle.

Could you just abstractly put your feelings on paper? Could you celebrate your season of life, no matter where you are? You may have to dig a tunnel for some light, via the assignment SBJ mentioned, or the Monday at 3:30 . Go ahead, we give you permission to do some perfectly awful work. Call it Art Therapy if you need an excuse for "wasting" materials, and write it off as a medical expense LOL. Seriously, just start with one stroke of a luscious, moody color, and let your emotions take over from there.

So revel in your season. Feed off of it, even apathy requires energy, and turn that emotion into art!

Our prayers are with you, too. Say thank-you for my fam. to your husband.

06-13-2004, 02:58 AM
everyone is different, and for some, painting can be wonderful therapy. When my Mum was dying, I found it really helpful to go and paint each day for a while, because when painting, I could NOT think and dwell on what was happening outside of the painting. I truly switched off for a short time. I know that this isn't the same for everyone...but you might just find that the same thing will apply to you, once you get going. Perhaps your subconscious mind knows this, and you aren't getting started because there is an underlying sense of guilt there - by painting, you forget about everything else, and your subconscious may feel it is "wrong" to be so "thoughtless".

However....you need a bit of space and time away from worry. Try painting as therapy, as suggested, and although it is quite good advice not to be too "result-led", aiming high will get your concentration even more focussed.

Starting is the hard part. Make a date with yourself. Treat it like an ubreakable appointment. At such-and-such a time, on Wednesday (or whatever), you put aside whatever else you are doing, go shut yourself in your room, put a couple of big green and red peppers on the table, plus half of a third one, and make yourself paint it. You work until you feel inclined to stop, but you have to start. Then, once you have broken the barrier, you will find it easier to make more dates to begin.

I wish you and your husband well.


Kitty Wallis
06-13-2004, 03:18 AM
When I'm in a bad slump I have two tried and true techniques.

I can do portraits from life sittings. I will keep a social apptointment more faithfully than I will a committment with myself. The sitter shows up, I'm on. And I love doing portraits.

My other technique, a little more difficult, is a time deal. I make a deal with myself to start. To go in the studio and do at least 15 min of something. Even if it's just getting the paper on the easel. I can stay as long as I like, get as involved as I like in the work, but I'm committed to just 15 min. This makes it easier to go in there.

06-13-2004, 05:15 AM
Ive been exactly like you..... struggling for months being unispired and not putting pastel to paper even, which feels like a sin, wasting time doing nothing, which makes me feel guilty :( ..... so I forced myself to paint... cant say I enjoyed it lol..... and the end results showed.... but kept posting away, and the encouragement and support in here, just spurs you on to do better...... and you still feel rotten inside, as you still dont feel inspired....

so I thought I would waste this time practising what Im not good at .. landscapes and greens/leaves/bushes.... kept doing more...... not saying I enjoyed it any better....... BUT..... Im getting a better understanding of it now :) ..... and parts of them, quite like :eek: ...... so, it really hasnt been a waste of time at all ......the time has been a learning process...... then, reward yourself...... DO something you DO enjoy!! ....... paint a subject you have always enjoyed !! ........ trust me on this, it feels a realllllllll pleasure again :) ........ I wandered over to the WDE yesterday...... and low n behold there was an image there, that I just HAD to paint

We honestly all go through this at some time or point .... be it from outside pressures or problems or self imposed ones on our own abilities or skills ....... it is just a matter of time before the 'right' object/scene/peson..... has your name on it and calls you to paint again

Kathryn Wilson
06-13-2004, 09:30 AM
Sometimes we just need some space - as Dee suggests - a time to adjust to a different life style. If you have a studio or a quiet room, just go and sit and listen to some music, look through your paintings, read an art magazine. Wander through the Image Library - lots of inspirational photos. Join a Project or the WDE - you don't have to post, just pick a photo that speaks to you.

Draw - not even with pastels - go back to the basics. It's good practice, easy to do in your lap, and won't take long to get you back in the spirit.

Give this present to yourself - you deserve it!

06-13-2004, 12:44 PM
I'm overwhelmed by the support in here, you guys are really great!

Thanks Julie I'm going to the WDE today to look at the images and I'm going to paint something no matter how crappy it turns out...

Sooz..you've got yourself a deal, I'm going to paint today whatever image I can find and I'll post back here tomorrow...I feel like a beginner all over again but this is what I need ..

Deborah..I do have a new life to get used to and it's been difficult some days..like being pulled in a thousand directions...doing for everyone but myself..and I know I need to get back to the pastels..if only for a refuge

Paula...thanks, I take great comfort in knowing I can always come in here..

Preston...thank you for the beautiful analogy..I will think of that often today as I try to get my gears in motion

Lisa...thats really a good idea and I think maybe that'll be part of what I paint today...just let my mood determine color and shape...it would be a great exercise for me..

Jackie..I also go into that right brain mode and think of nothing but what I'm doing..and maybe you're right, I think I feel a little guilty (okay..a lot) when I'm not thinking of hubby or the kids..and yes I do need some time away from the worry..thank you for putting into perspective for me..

Kitty..thanks for the techniques, I like the 15 min rule..it doesn't seem overwhelming and you put no pressure on yourself..

Dawn..thanks for sharing your experience..and I think it's really brave of you to push on and make yourself practice what you don't like. I like the idea of turning a negative into a positive and learning something from it..

Kat...yes, I will give myself some space as I know now that it goes beyond wanting it...but really needing it if I'm going to be of any use to anyone else in my life..

Thank you all for being so supportive and I will tell my husband today that all of your thoughts and prayers are with him...as for me I WILL do something today and post back here tomorrow now matter how awful or half done it is...it's a start right? I feel like I'm in that place when I paint where you lay the initial color in and look at it and think "this is gonna suck" but you push on with layer after layer of color and the picture comes out okay..my life feels like I'm in that moment where I need to make the decision to push on...and it's not easy...but I thank all of you so much..this is what I needed to hear and I'm glad I made myself post.

Deborah Secor
06-13-2004, 12:56 PM
It's so wonderful to have a group of knowledgable, helpful, caring people. This is a place where we all encourage one another with real help, real skills, sometimes helpful critiques and sometimes just cheering the efforts--but always reaching out. I, for one, am pleased to be associated with all of you.

And Monica, I look forward to seeing what you're moved to do!


06-13-2004, 03:24 PM
It's so wonderful to have a group of knowledgable, helpful, caring people. This is a place where we all encourage one another with real help, real skills, sometimes helpful critiques and sometimes just cheering the efforts--but always reaching out. I, for one, am pleased to be associated with all of you.

And Monica, I look forward to seeing what you're moved to do!


I agree...this place is a true godsend, especially to those of us who don't have artist friends locally anymore. It's so easy to become isolated that way and you begin to feel what's the use very easily. I'm happy to know all the folks here; they're an inspiration every day!

06-14-2004, 05:39 PM
Wow........this thread is oozing the love...... :p :D .....God this place is awesome!!

Monica...Can't wait to see what you "force out"....It's almost like an exorcism, isn't it :evil: :D .......ya have ta ex-or-ise the demons...(k that's my best evangelist impression)........ I know that's what it feels like to me, but after I it's all over....I'm refreshed and have a whole new energy to feed off of.

I also send my thoughts and prayers to you and yours....It takes someone very special to be married to a person in the service. I admire your strength. And god bless your Husband.

06-14-2004, 06:39 PM
((Monica)) Your post brought back memories for me..my hubby was in Vietnam 35 years ago. It is hard! I will be thinking of you both and sending good vibes.
Everyone has given super advice...we have all been through it. I don't always get it either...I just try to remember that everyone else has been there and there is nothing wrong with me...the hardest part is getting started, an old artist friend once told me. That helps me sometimes..I know that if I can just get up and start something I will probably get into it.
Good luck to both of you!


06-14-2004, 10:14 PM
Dania and Sandy ..thanks so much. I know this place is awesome and I'm so thankful to be surrounded by so many caring individuals. I'm a true believer in karma and positive energy and I know that all of your thoughts and positive energy will help to keep us going...

Sooz, I know we made a deal to post something today and today has been horrendous. It started at 4am for me and I'm just now eating dinner and it's after 9pm...I'm sure most of you in here can relate. Tomorrow there is nothing and I mean nothing keeping me from it...so I'll have something to post whether it's good, bad, or unrecognizable...but I'm gonna post it. See you all here tomorrow...and thanks again for all of your loving support.


06-14-2004, 10:33 PM

I was just preparing to apologize to YOU for not posting today. I just HAD to finish shifting stuff around so I can have my "studio" space back to normal and since I'm not as spry and quick at doing this stuff as I used to be, I didn't finish til tonight. I still have cleaning to do, but I SHOULD be able to get something, no matter how minute, done tomorrow and I'll post too.

Don't feel bad about it....life is what happens while you're makin' other plans, ya know! As long as we still have a deal, a day late shouldn't be any big deal. Chatya here tomorrow!

06-15-2004, 10:29 PM
Well Sooz and everyone..I made it. I spent the afternoon in my yard painting from a reference picture that I took on my walk last week. After I started painting and got into it..I totally deviated from the ref picture...which really was fun and I don't think I've done that before. Anyway..once I thought I was finished I kept fiddling with it...and fiddling with it. From not painting for two months to not leaving it alone.....I need to make up my mind. Here's the finished product..not totally hideous...but I'm sure I could fiddle with it some more. I'll be pushing myself to paint tomorrow also...thanks everyone for the support and the kick in the pants! :)


Paula Ford
06-15-2004, 11:03 PM

I definately want to take a walk right down that path. Very tranquil and peaceful...lovely!! Glad you're back!!


Lisa Olivarez
06-15-2004, 11:13 PM
It looks great, Monica. I like your color choices, very realistic. Woooohoooo!She's baaaack! Lisa :)

06-16-2004, 02:18 AM
(Ducking head, shuffling feet, clearing of throat....) Well, I didn't quite make it! I PROMISE something tomorrow....REALLY! Just got the studio cleanup done today and then the electrician guy came to plan some work we're having done, so....I know....excuses, excuses, blah blah....

Anyway, YOU sure did a good job Monica! Lovely piece and so tranquil and nice, it MUST have been a refreshing couple hours for you. See? You CAN do it! And now, you're one up on me, so....I better get my behind in gear, huh? :D

Great to see ya back in the dust!

06-16-2004, 04:22 AM
so glad you got going again. I think your choice of subject is really interesting ... I am only a closet psychologist, but I feel instinctively that there is something more than just tranquility going on here. That road, leading to........an as yet unknown, but hopefully tranquil and happy and enjoyable future. I think it is really lovely. We none of us know what is down the road, or around the corner, do we, perhaps your subconscious mind helped you to choose this picture to paint.

It is a good idea to lose yourself in painting when you have little or no control of some important elements of your physical world. I really recommend, in all sincerity here, that you buy some beautiful flowers, and work from life. There is something so very special and rewarding about studying nature at close hand, and it is NOT the same as working from a photograph. For instance, although one can get bitten by bugs, and get backache from lugging equipment around, losing oneself in a landscape painting when outdoors, is a very extraordinary experience. You feel the wind in your hair, you smell the scents, you hear the sounds all around you. Your eyes drink in the scene, not just the scene in front of you, but the scene all around. When you sit in front of a magnificent flower or two, you really SEE the velvety finish of the petals, the crumbly stamens; the fragile stems, the little tiny hairs on a leaf. When you have a photo in your hand, you have a piece of shiny paper, no smell, no sounds, just a piece of paper with colours on it; and you have to work really hard to make out the small details. It isn't necessarily a bad thing to work from a photo ... it is just a really different emotional experience, and in your current situation, I really believe it would nourish your soul, and make your heart sing, to work from the real thing.

I hope I haven't been too presumptuous here ... it just felt right to say all this.

Kathryn Wilson
06-16-2004, 07:37 AM
Monica! Good for you! You took the leap and came up with a great little painting. I'm sure just being outdoors in the sun and light helped make the pasteling a pleasant experience - perhaps you were having so much fun you didn't want to finish - :)

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Hope to see more!

06-16-2004, 07:47 AM
Thanks Lisa and Paula..and I'll be waitin' for your painting Sooz!! It really felt good yesterday to get back into it and I know I'll have to do a little something everyday...that was just too long of a break.

Jackie...I don't think you're being presumptous at all. (Thank you for your book by the way..both my mother and I started from it.) My intent yesterday was to sit in my yard and paint and a flower from one of the many planters I have. The first 2 weeks after hubby left I went a bit mad with the gardening. Why I opted for the photo instead...I don't know...maybe a safter bet. But everytime I go for my walk I think how nice it would be to plop myself right into the middle of that field and paint..I've been itchin' to get out there although I don't have much experience at it. I think you're right in that it would be very fulfilling and is probably exactly what I need right now. I think the only way I can do it is to make an appt. with myself and clear an entire day so I have no excuses...thanks Jackie.

Cheena K
06-16-2004, 08:28 AM
This a very refreshing and soft painting! :) :clap:

I fall in this "slump" so often, but you guys are a constant source of inspiration to me as well, THANKS!!! Thanks WC!!

Deborah Secor
06-16-2004, 04:40 PM
Yay! Monica--it does look good and I'm so glad you're 'pushing' yourself to paint. I agree with Jackie, painting from life is refreshing and fun, a good habit to get into, alongside painting from photos. Besides, it's a GREAT excuse to buy beautiful flowers, which are a treat we all need now and then. I have to admit to having the same thought about the road, sort of new horizons, new vistas.

I'm looking forward to the next one you share with us.

06-16-2004, 06:20 PM

The tips and suggestions everyone has are great. Here's some things that might also help - you might try cross training in some other area of art too. You might take a hand building or wheel throwing ceramics class if you haven't done that before, or a general figure drawing class. You might also try to see if there is a local art group in your area you could join so that you could participate in 'paint-outs'. I belong to the MidAmerica Pastel Society, and in the warmer months, we have group plein air paint-outs. These can be a fun way to get some arty friends and paint outdoors.

Best wishes to you and your family.

06-16-2004, 06:48 PM
Can't wait to see what you "force out"....It's almost like an exorcism, isn't it :evil: :D .......ya have ta ex-or-ise the demons

lol, you just made me think of Pastel WORKOUTS ....
.... ex-er-cise the demons :D

06-17-2004, 02:56 AM
Okay, this is really really really embarrassing, but I promised, so....

I made the mistake of deciding to try out Sabretooth paper for the first time on this half hour sketch after I got finished with the kitchen chores. I struggled with the stuff for an HOUR and a half and I must say....it's kinda like trying to paint on asphalt with a weird plasticy finish. You can't really blend it without it just looking murky and yet it's so rough...yikes.

Anyway, here 'tis just to show I DID try! Someday I'll redo this on something decent (Wallis!) and do my photo better justice! I hope.

9X12ish Sabretooth

Kathryn Wilson
06-17-2004, 08:32 AM
Hey, Sooz - this has a look of first-light or last-light in the mountains - very nice! Glad you got to post this - :clap:

06-17-2004, 09:01 AM
Yeah...you made it!!! And despite the tough time with your paper..I think it looks good. The texture gives it a real airy, sort of ethereal look. The colors are beautiful too. I'm glad you made it...I'm gonna try and give it a go again today between haircuts and teeth cleanings for the boys. Great job Sooz and thanks for all of your encouragement and this "deal"...it really helped! :clap:

06-17-2004, 11:41 AM
Hey, Sooz - this has a look of first-light or last-light in the mountains - very nice! Glad you got to post this - :clap:

Thanks, I have all sorts of sunrise and sunset shots of the Peak (as we call it) taken over the years and had the idea of doing both a sunrise and a sunset one eventually. Since Pikes Peak is west of town, this is a sunset...a much bigger challenge will be the sunrise one since that makes the face of the peak glow like a fire opal on winter mornings while the rest of the world is still dark, the sun not having reached the lower altitudes yet.

This was a good exercise or "practice" if you will, but man, that paper is the pits for this sort of thing...I can see it being useful for something else where you WANT that rough look, but not this. Ah, well, live and learn. I gave up entirely on the actual profile of the mountain once I got going because the rough surface just made detail impossible.

I'm just amazed that Kitty managed to get through life WITHOUT her paper for so long! :eek:

And thanks, Monica, I just didn't want to renege on our "deal"....maybe we need more deals...say one or two sketches like this per week or something just to keep each other going? I stand in awe of anyone with children loose in the house who manage to paint anything at all! So, you're way ahead of me already! :D

Kitty Wallis
06-17-2004, 05:17 PM
I'm just amazed that Kitty managed to get through life WITHOUT her paper for so long! :eek:

So am I! :D

I'm thinking of a retrospective. All of us, especially those of us that have been painting for years, shall we show each other our changes?

Or how about anyone, no matter how long they've been painting. I began to think of those who have gone thru many mediums before they found pastels. All kinds of stories. Is this too big?

06-17-2004, 05:24 PM
Monica, your path is lovely..I am so glad you got over that hump.
And Sooz, I tried some Sabertooth ONCE!!!! I think you did a heroic job...I didn't get that far. Actually, your clouds are quite nice. Good for you!
This place is amazing!!!!

Kitty Wallis
06-17-2004, 05:53 PM
OK this is really embarrassing too.

I just realized I jumped into this thread of important support to you, Monica, a lot of people helping you thru a difficult time. I agree that painting is a wonderful way to keep and strengthen your peace and character. And I agree that plein air work is even more powerful than work from photos.

I like to tell my students: Nature is our teacher. We evolved here. Our eyes, our brains, our souls have been taught everything we know about color, light, expression, from nature. When we work outside on the planet, using flowers, figures or the landscape, seeing in the light of the sun, working with the immensly more subtle and real qualities than the bits that film can capture, we learn.

That repetoire of real experience can enliven any work we do from photos. It becomes a bank account of knowledge.

I wish you good news and supportive friends and satisfying work..

06-17-2004, 10:23 PM
That's quite alright Kitty....no need for embarrassment. I'm really thankful to have this little (okay maybe not so little) world of my own to come hang out ...that's truly my own space..away from the details of life. If, while helping each other out, something else comes up in the conversation...I think that's great...and it's what we're all here for ...and I'll take all the info and knowledge I can from those of you that have been painting longer!

I love what you said about nature being out teacher and I truly believe that too..I'm hoping for a nice day tomorrow to get outside and paint. My two boys will be going to visit with their grandma in PA once school is out for about a week...so I should be able to really get out there and paint something...I'm already thinking of the spots to go to! And the paper I used the other day to get over my hump was yours...I'd never used it before and it truly lives up to its reputation... nowI have to get some more! Thanks Kitty for the kind words and the wonderful paper!


06-18-2004, 01:49 AM
I'm really thankful to have this little (okay maybe not so little) world of my own to come hang out ...that's truly my own space..away from the details of life. If, while helping each other out, something else comes up in the conversation...I think that's great...and it's what we're all here for ...and I'll take all the info and knowledge I can from those of you that have been painting longer!

I second that!!!

Wonderful paintings both of you!!:clap: :clap: I rather like your painting sooz..despite the problem you had (I don't think I'll be trying that paper though..)

06-18-2004, 03:41 AM
Thanks, Dania! It was certainly an interesting experiment! I think I'll stick mostly to Wallis and Colorfix from now on....:D

I actually made myself sit down and fiddle with another quickie sketch this evening and will post tomorrow in the week's sketch thread. I'm finally beginning to enjoy this again after a loooooong dry spell. Not that I think I'm exactly doing "great art" but it's feeling good to get back into it, at least! Let's face it....the more you do, the easier...and hopefully better...it gets!

06-18-2004, 09:10 AM
Hi Monica, I don't usually hang out in the talk forum, (there's a lot going on in here) so I'm late in responding to your post. First off I want to thank you and your husband for the sacrifice you are both making. Secondly, If its o.k. with you I'll add you both to my prayer list. And thirdly, (don't I sound so organized) I'm glad you were able to jump in and paint, you got a lot of good advise here, what a wonderful place, and how wonderful of everyone to offer such encouragement. My advise now that you've touched your toe into the water is to go ahead and step right in, keep painting.

06-18-2004, 09:34 AM
Monica and Sooz, you've both produced lovely works here! :clap:

May I also recommend the 'Creativity Corner' forum - a nice place to hang out when you're looking for inspiration and support through lulls, slumps, blocks and troughs :)

06-18-2004, 01:14 PM
Thanks E-J and PJ...and yes I would be grateful if you added us to your prayer list...I worry about him so much and he's still in Texas for the train-up. I look forward to his week of leave on the 4th of July and today I sketched up a little platoon motto for them which was fun. I plan on really jumping into the pastels now that the weekend is upon us...wish me luck!! :D