View Full Version : How often do you paint?

02-23-2001, 09:45 PM
I have had such an uninspired week. I haven't been able to paint at all. I just hit a wall after my initial burst with pastels. I couldn't find any nice photos to work from (my husband is a great photographer) and the weather was bad. I found myself feeling anxious about this. I felt like I wanted to get my hands on those pastels, but I didn't know what to paint. How often do you paint and what do you do when you hit a blank wall? HELP.

Also, I don't have a scanner but I am trying to find a friend with a digital camera to come over and photo the pics I have done so I can get help from everyone with them. Until then, please go to paperhabitat.com and check out my handmade journals and tell me what you think.


[This message has been edited by Shari (edited February 23, 2001).]

02-23-2001, 10:46 PM
I usually find a zillion things I want to paint while I'm working on something. Then when I'm finished the current painting and want to start something new, none of those zillion things has any appeal :P

I haven't been painting much of late, too darn tired and gloomy. I've been sleeping a lot (I'm pregnant :P). When I'm like this I'd rather muck around with my web site than to get emotionally involved with a painting. Too draining and makes me even more tired.

I have the blues, I think, and not Kraft induced ones :P

As to your question: when I'm not feeling like this, I usually paint about 4-6 hours a day.

Bah, speaking of tired, I'm too fuzzy-headed to write this and I think I'm typing in my sleep.

G'night :P

<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

02-23-2001, 10:51 PM
I too have hit that wall, and was stuck to it for 2 weeks now. Looking at my canson paper wondering what would be created on it. I did start a very small portrait (it was a size of a dime), of a boy....but the eraser just had to get hungry. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/eek.gif
I got time this weekend to get my bunns in gear,finally!
I really don't know why we slump and hit those walls. Might be that we aren't fully content and won't let our full thoughts to emerge.
I looked through tons of photos, to work on, but hoping something would click. I know the feeling.
Sorry I can't help. I hope someone knows the answer.

02-23-2001, 11:27 PM
I work almost everyday I produce 5 pieces a week, I think there is lots of bad paintings in me so I produce as much as I can, to get to the few good ones... the longer the wait between working the harder it is to paint well. The best of times are 3 pastels in a day. A great artist(Egbert Oudendag) once told me that if there is nothing to paint ...paint the first thing you see when you step out of your studio.

[This message has been edited by DFGray (edited February 23, 2001).]

02-23-2001, 11:37 PM

How far along are you in your pregnancy? You have a good excuse. I am blaming everything on menopause! I work every day, fortunately doing something I love very much, but that only gives me a few hours a day for art. Also, I feel like I am groping in the dark, as I have no teacher so I am trying to teach myself how to do this. I am motivated to learn though. Thanks for your feedback, I sure appreciate it. I don't know how you do it with a little one and one on the way. My youngest is 15 now, so I am pretty free. I am glad you make time for your art, so many women give up the things they love to take care of their kids.


02-23-2001, 11:51 PM
Bah, couldn't sleep so I thought I'd post one more message.
I'm almost 3 months along and I also have a 4 year old running amuck. I'm happy she's going to preschool in the mornings, but I miss her http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/frown.gif I had planned on using that time to paint, but now I usually end up sleeping instead. I'm sooooooooooooooooooo tired most of the time and being pregnant at 40 isn't a treat :P Last one, that's for sure!

I'm self taught as well, Shari. Doing what you are doing now -- trying to find my way around in the dark. Once in a while I find a firefly and that's enough to keep me going in the darkness again. Some day, when both kids are at school full time, I'll start praying for local workshops again. Until then, I'll just have to keep struggling.

I just tell myself, "so long as what I am doing is related to my art, I'm still creating." That goes for my web site and all the research I'm doing -- it pays off for me in the end. I become better educated about the materials I use and make, I think, more intelligent decisions. Course, anyone can argue THAT :P

Keep going, Shari. You're not really alone!

<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

02-24-2001, 08:28 AM

The "wall" is not a fun place to be. Seems like nothing is going right, especially painting.

Here are a couple of things you can do :


1. Do nothing.
Yes, nothing. Sometimes striving to paint makes the problem worse by concentrating on it; the loss of time, the loss of spirit to work, the lack of instruction... Do something entirely different for a few days, a week, months; take a break from art entirely. Clean that attic you've wanted to straighten, shop for those shoes you need, buy cards for friends and loved ones, dine with friends, do anything but art. Then when you come back you'll be fresh.

2. Do nothing.
Don't paint, rather, read about "all things art", visit a good museum, take walks and dream... steep yourself in art without creating anything. No pressure, no production, nothing.

3. Start to do something.
a. First thing to do is to get out your pastel paper, and tell that paper that you are the "boss". It can't tell you what to do, you tell it what to do. Slowly and carefully pull out all your pastels, clean 'em up, arrange 'em, even take a day or two to setup.

b. Then one day, get up, have some coffee (the coffee part is critical to this process http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif step up to the plate (the easel), pick up your bat (pastel), and play "pastel"! Yes, just play. Get back that fun of stroking, poking, dragging of the paint and painting. Don't try to draw anything, just play.

c. Go have some more coffee, and a cookie of course. Treat yourself, you made contact with the ball (the pastel). Now slowly paint just one thing. That's, one thing. A pitcher, an egg, a shoe, a mug, that favorite teacup, that favorite anything, just paint one thing . Don't pressure yourself about it, moosh that pastel around to capture the character and action of the object... don't look for detail and don't worry about how it will come out.

d. Repeat c, until you feel comfortable painting individual things comfortably.

4. Read.
Read everything you can get your hands on related to what you want to do, portraits, landscapes, anything written about pastel, etc. Get a video tape (a good one) on painting in pastel.

5. Don't worry about the results.
They will take care of themselves, and you will be surprised what you CAN do. Try to paint like Shari, and no one else. You are unique and no one can paint quite like you.

6. Pick out a good pastel specific workshop, save up for it including the airfare, then go. It will revolutionize your work and give you the boost and confidence you need. Even if it takes a year, save up, have that to look forward to.


Sometimes the problem is with feelings. "I don't feel like painting", "I don't feel like I can do it", "I don't feel like I can find anything to paint", etc.

The best way to battle these issues is with your will. Go back up to 3a above, and start to play after selecting any object (s). Begin to paint. Give yourself about 20 -30 minutes (it takes that long for the right side of the brain to kick-in and flow) and by then you may find yourself so absorbed painting you forgot the time anyway.

Many times I don't feel like painting, don't have a thing to paint, don't think I can paint. I use one or both of the above to try and overcome whatever the issues.

If it is subject matter, start by painting your favorite things, whatever they may be. Once when I was stuck, I pulled out my small box collection, lined them up and painted them. At first it was a struggle, but I loved doing it, and it turned out wonderful because I didn't think about the outcome, but the process instead.

Don't fret, it will turn around on it's own even if you don't try these suggestions http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

Take care,

P.S. Check to see if anything else is going on that is impacting your painting time. For some, painting is the first thing to go when other things in life are in need of attention.

Quote: "Things don't come to stay, they come to pass."

L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

02-24-2001, 09:26 AM
1. Do nothing.

This is such good advice. I actually did that a few days ago! I made journals which were on order and needed to be done, but somehow I was inspired to do them.

Your reply went straight to my heart and my gut. The truth flies like an arrow and you really hit the mark.

b. Then one day, get up, have some coffee (the coffee part is critical to this process http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif step up to the plate (the easel), pick up your bat (pastel), and play "pastel"! Yes, just play.

YES! Thanks for helping remember to PLAY! Isn't that what this is about anyway? I am taking this way too serious. Thank you thank you.

c. Go have some more coffee, and a cookie of course.

I think I go for the cookie treat a little too often. Chocolate is my drug of choice!

Reading is such a great idea. I just splurged and bought both Wolf Kahn books. I absolutely love his work. He is a master of color. After reading those books from cover to cover (what a life he has had!) I looked outside and saw the world totally differently, how bands of color looked with trees against it. He changed my viewpoint completely.

God I am so grateful for your loving reply and your wonderful sense of humor.

Big Love,


02-24-2001, 09:52 PM

I am so thrilled that you were helped by my post. That means all the world to me.

And the side benefit I did not mention regarding "dry spells", is that when you come out of them, your work will shine! We always think of these times as the worst thing that could happen as an artist. In reality, they are a part of the process, and often times a critical one to our work.

Glad you read Wolf's books. Masterworks are always a great way to get the creativity cooking again...and chocolate definitely helps too http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif


02-24-2001, 10:40 PM
Hubby is away for a couple of days so my free time is almost non-exisitant. I'm getting behind on all these posts :P

This helps me as well, Diane. I don't believe in forcing myself to be creative either. Sure, it works for some people but all it does is drive me further away. I've also gotten a lot of flack for that attitude as well. People just don't understand. They view it as a 20-40 hour a week job that you turn off and on. When I'm in the mood to paint, I paint. I paint in every spare minute I have. That's an awful lot of painting and doesn't leave room for anything else but my daughter. Even my husband suffers when I get in that mode :P Luckily my coder husband is the same way and understands completely. We often go through dry spells together.

Makes me feel good and more self-confident that someone as successful as you has the same attitude :P

<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

02-25-2001, 02:13 AM

I normally able to make 2-3 paintings a week. My "dry spell" is not actually due to not being able to "think" of what to paint, but just not in darn good mood to do it. You're lucky, your husband is a photographer. Borrow his camera and go out. Take pictures of stuff. Sometimes, what doesn't seem to be interesting, when captured on a photograph, gets your attention suddenly. You'll never know what you'll discover for yourself. Everyday life and familiar scenes can look ordinary, but on closer look, can turn out to be inspirational. For example, that old neighbor of yours, maybe if you talk to him/her, and you pay close attention to his face or his facial expressions, you might discover how intresting those wrinkles form a distinctive distinguished look for himself. This might inspire you to do a painting session with him, or say, take pictures of him and select one that you like best.

When I paint, sometimes half-way through it, I stop and doesn't go back to it for a day or two. If I don't feel "it" then it would only come out wrong.

Like Roan, sometimes I feel that I like to do this, this, this and this all at the same time, and when I am done with one, my interest with the others is no longer there.

And like DFGray, I just keep on making them even and screen them out later.

Visit galleries, museums, surround yourself with magazines or other materials containing subjects that interests you (or might interest you). Seeing other people's works can inspire you as well.

Don't worry about it, the more you stress yourself, the less inspired you're gonna be. The most important thing is to have good ol' fun with it.


02-25-2001, 03:39 AM
Diane - such wise advice that I've saved it.
So much of what you said certainly touched a place in my heart too. Thanks!

Shari - see, you are not alone. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

02-25-2001, 05:09 PM
I think ALL the ideas here are wonderful and helpful.

02-26-2001, 12:24 AM
I went through this (yet again!) just this past Christmas. A friend passed on this tidbit: She said that I was taking time to inhale. You can't just exhale all the time. When you're inhaling, you're getting in touch with those elements of your life that are most important to you. She said, "If you're going to be any good as a painter, you'd better be doing this."

Another friend told me that this was a natural (but irritating) part of the process, and that it did no good to fight it since I couldn't hurry it. I should play with another medium, study art history stuff, and wait, because when it passed, what I would paint would be far better than what I had done so far.

So, those things go along with the other advice here! It turned out to be true. My pants are afire now. There isn't enough time(or light!) in the day for me to paint as much as I want to!

BTW, Roan, Congratulations! I hope the blues pass quickly. Also, I can't remember your name, the menopausal one, LOL! I'm fast approaching that stage (47 come April) and I've been doing some reading. I've read that during this time our most creative hormones spike and never come down. I'm hoping that's true!
Happy inhaling, everyone! Donna

02-26-2001, 06:30 AM
Thanks, Donna :P The blues come and go and aren't as bad as the first time, but it still puts a huge crimp in my style.


<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Call caraid tadhal tric, 's call caraid tadhal ainmig.</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">Friends are lost by calling often, and by calling seldom.</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

02-27-2001, 04:23 PM
I seem to paint in bursts of activity followed by days or weeks of inactivity. When I feel the need to get inspired, I go into NYC and go to a museum. Usually, while I'm in there, I feel a sudden urge to go home and paint. Sometimes, everything I see on the drive home looks like a good subject for a painting.

One idea you might try when you can't find a subject to paint - try making a new version of one of your older paintings. But don't make an exact copy - try to make it different in some way. Preferably better. But don't be afraid to take risks. Do it in a way you're not sure will work. Whether it does or not, you'll learn something.

Barry Katz

02-27-2001, 10:51 PM
What a wonderful thread to return to. I was on vacation until a couple of days ago and my unfinished painting has been mocking me for not touching it.

Shari, I too have a full time job, so time for painting is limited. Add to my time constraints that I also do a lot of digitally created art. So an awful lot of time may go by between serious pastel work. I'm a VERY slow worker, so I'll tell you how many hours, not how many art works I do. I probably put 30 to 40 hours a week in on my art (that's digital and pastel) unless I have too many other obligations. (I'm so fortunate to have a tolerant husband - it's hard to get me to do anything but artwork.)

I have one more tip to add to Diane's list: I organize my pastels, clean my studio, just do anything I can that makes me hang around the pastels when I'm stuck. Usually that is a great inspiration breakthrough. Maybe this will work for you too.

Also, along the lines of what Barry suggested, I review my work for things I think I need to improve on - and start a painting that will challenge me to learn how to make my painting better. Even though these paintings don't always start as something I think I'll enjoy - ultimately these have turned into some of my most successful works.

Good Luck, and I'm hoping it is soon that we see some of your stuff up here (when you get the digital camera!)


02-28-2001, 01:16 AM

Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. Everyone is so helpful here. I have been telling many people about this site. I feel so much caring from people who don't even know me and I am just at the start of this pastel love affair. I went to my first real drawing class on Monday. I have had no formal training of any kind for this type of art. I realized I need to learn to draw accurately. This class really brought up a lot of stuff for me, comparing myself to others and such. I have so much to learn and I have always been the kind of person to just do something I want to do, not bother to learn the "rules" and "techniques" to any great degree. This is going to take discipline and that is not my strong suit to be sure. I am going to stick to it though, because it is a necessary step to doing pastels with any proficiency. I envy the people who can draw naturally, this is not easy for me. Thank you so much everyone for all your help.


02-28-2001, 01:32 AM
Hey, Shari! Congrats on your first class. I've been concentrating on pastels for 2 years now, and one thing strikes me. As soon as we master something, something brand new comes along. We just never know enough. We're never finished. BTW at my very first painting class I arrived late, and I was such a wreck at painting in front of other people that I set up my French easel upside down, with the 2 long legs jutting up over the lid, in front of the whole semicircle of artists waiting to begin. Donna

02-28-2001, 11:39 AM

Hilarious, what a picture you created in my mind. Sounds pretty embarassing! I am such a private person, it's hard to "do art" in front of a class, but oh well, here I go!


03-16-2001, 02:08 AM
I'm new to the site but this thread really hit home for me. I'm a writer, and I paint just in my spare time, to relax and reconnect with a less linguistic form of creativity (read: I'm a terrible artist). I find, though, that I write something every day, and only about one day in five actually produce something worthwhile. The rest are fodder--grist for the mill, or whatever. Painting helps, often. Despite a full class load (I'm finishing my B.A. and starting grad school in the fall), somehow my paints keep taking precedence over other things...like regular meals. It's crucial, I think, to have outlets that aren't part of one's career. Painting is wonderful because I'm not expected to be brilliant; I'm simply connecting with myself.
p.s. congrats, Roan--even if the pregnancy itself is no fun.

It is the very claim of literature to show us what we have failed to see.

06-16-2004, 09:17 AM
I paint often. I must also mention that I am one of the artists for cafe tu tu tangos (fun place, great food you can find it on the web, in canada, mexico, orlando, atlanta, coconut grove..) As a tango artist that is what I must do is paint. They pay us in food to be the entertainment and even better is when people come up and buy your art while you are painting. Sometimes I finish one or two paintings there, sometimes 5 (if 8 x 10s). My process has been interesting. I cannot sit around thinking oh what do I paint. I simply MUST paint. I have gained new working styles. Sometimes just painting and I don't know why, just painting the sky, sky after sky, then I step back and look at the body of work and it is a remarkable journey.

I read much of the good advice from the others in regard to being "stuck" and agree. Filling the well as Julia Cameron says from the Artists Way, journal, read, SEE, and of course "FEAR no ART" (part of a seminar workshop I hold), not everything needs to be a masterpiece.


06-16-2004, 07:39 PM
I think you make a good point about just painting! Sitting around thinking about what to paint often becomes the reason artists experience blocks with their creativity. While I'm painting....even if its simply scribbling for fun!...ideas begin to form and I find new direction.

I paint every day and the days I'm not actually working on a painting, I'm working on marketing or framing or another aspect of the creative effort. When I don't paint, I get withdrawal symptoms right away :)


06-17-2004, 05:09 PM
:) I try to do something art related everyday. Like carly if I'm not painting then I'm photographing my work, framing, matting or cleaning up my combo studio and computer room. At least then I feel like I have done something creative will except for the cleaning part anyway. lol Sometimes I'll just check my pastels to see if they need cleaning or putting back into their proper color order.

D J Lanzendorfer
07-13-2004, 10:37 PM
I paint every day unless I am schlepping paintings to galleries or other marketing
chores. I made a bargain with my hubby when I started a few years ago that I would treat it like a job and paint all the time because I am not young anymore and have to work at it to get good....someday soon I hope. I get depressed and in funky moods just like all of you but I paint anyway. What has happened for me is I enjoy it more everyday, it isn't work anymore.

Happy Painting! DJ