View Full Version : Melt down

02-26-2003, 04:47 PM
I am having a great year and a bad moment. I need your help. I am starting to question "painting" as a valid occupation. I am asking myself, what good is it to decorate someone's walls with my work, who cares what I paint and am I actually advancing "art" with what I do or just satisfying some selfish creative urge. I want to know about other artists who have gone through this and come out on the other side. What is happening? Please share with me so I can get over this and back to painting.:(

02-26-2003, 04:54 PM
You know, appreciation of art is often a subtle thing. It is rare for someone to go into raptures on seeing a piece that they like.

I have come to the conclusion that, if my work makes someone's day better because they have seen it, that is my reward.

I am not expressing this very well, but so many people cannot (or will not) create art. Just because the work is not acknowledged does not mean it is appreciated, but you need to be confident in yourself to accept this... :)

02-26-2003, 10:08 PM
Are you advancing art? Do all of us want to do that which improves our area of work. I think we should.
Know what I think of your work? I think it takes some of the color combos of those like Cezanne and by simplifying them magnifies their strength. Cleaner? And you do some things with orange that "speak." And your paintings calm people (calm feels good.)
When I have money this is art I will buy. When.

02-26-2003, 11:16 PM
Jo...Your stuff is very very good.you are speaking through your art..I love how you are exploring a people thing...(working out ideas/messages)
You are DOING something with your art..I want to start doing that too..thank you.
Gill :)

Rose Queen
02-27-2003, 12:33 AM
Is there something you'd rather be doing, besides painting? If not, it's more of a calling than a profession. You don't need us to tell you artists are rarely appreciated as fully as we would like; otherwise, there'd be no need for sites like WetCanvas! I would just observe, having had a career in something about as far removed from art as it's possible to imagine, that no one, in any field of endeavor, is ever appreciated as much as they would like or probably as much as they deserve. Ultimately, the satisfaction has to come from within, so that any appreciation coming from others is just icing on the cake.

100% free webcam site! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=0) | Awesome chicks and it is absolutely free! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=2) | Watch free live sex cam - easy as 1-2-3 (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=4)

100% free webcam site! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=0) | Awesome chicks and it is absolutely free! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=2) | Watch free live sex cam - easy as 1-2-3 (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=4)

02-27-2003, 07:58 AM
Jo, I felt I had to answer your post. I have decided to quit painting (for how long I don't know) about 3 weeks ago. I had been struggling for the past months with many issues concerning art and creativity in general. To describe what I'm going through I would compare it to this: a well that is not working properly must be dried up first in order to allow someone (me) to go down and dig up whatever is blocking the flow... so I have deliberatly dried up the well and I am now shoveling and cleaning up old issues I would have never thought could block my creativity. I know deep down inside I will come back to painting sooner or later, and I know it is time for me for a major life change. This is changing not only my relationship to art but my life completely; I will never be the same again. It is a life changing experience.

I also want to recommend the excellent book"The Artist Way"; it has helped me a lot.


02-27-2003, 08:46 AM
I appreciate everyone's thoughts and comments. I think my biggest problem is when I think broader than my own work and question the use of art as something that goes with the sofa in the livingroom. I am torn between making money-generating paintings to continue doing this full-time and doing something I feel is more expressive than commercial. I know this "depression" will pass. I am just under a lot of financial pressure right now.
Thank you.

02-27-2003, 01:10 PM
I went exactly through the same thing. As I mentioned in other posts, I ended up going back to school for a few years (to hone my artist skills further) and working 10 hours a week at an art and frame shop in order to pay for school.

This going to be kind of long, but here is a bunch of things I realized.

There are reasons for art. It has purpose other then matching sofas. It can evoke emotions and can make people think. It can energize people and help them see beauty. Or a problem they may not of thought of before. Sometimes people even see God or Goddess (depending on your religious beliefs) in artwork. Or it can be calming and relaxing...like cool water. It can heal and surprise and do many other things. So when you create art, that's what your doing. If you don't believe this, then skip the rest of my post because it all is based around this fact.

FYI: I went to your site, I think your artwork is excellent. I love the bright colors you use. And your backgrounds on some of the figurative works are also really interesting.

You mentioned a selfish urge to create. Your right it is selfish... and by pursuing it you are as selfish as anyone who heads into the profession they love. Good doctors and nurses are called in the profession. They have always wanted to do it. Ever met an excellent pastor? I know more then one and they love the wide range they help people.

Is there something else you would rather be doing? If you weren't an artist what would you do? This question helped me. There was no other answer. While I am good at some other things, I might as well work at McDonalds or Walmart. It would give me about the same satisfaction.

Another question I had to ask myself is what type of artist did I want to be? What did I want to create and why? Can I create that type of art? If not what do I need to do in order to be able to (here is where I decided to go back to school.)

This next part is completely business....Is there more places you could show your artwork that may bring in some funds? Is there other markets your art may appeal to but you havn't considered.
Could you have museum shows, or shows at the library or other private non-profit organizations. How do you feel about reproductions or small scale works that sell faster. Has anyone shown interest in your work that might be in the market to purchase?

If you are in real dire need perhaps you could get a second job.
Or you could receive help from family or friends or your church or by some private organization (scholarships, fellowships and grants) or even temporarily help from the government if there is no one else. Obviously I don't know your situation, I just think that there often is other solutions to problems.

Now about regular people who buy art. I have discovered people who have even a passing interest in art rarely buy things that just go with their sofa, while certainly color choices have something to do with it and they may even say wow that will really go with my decor....there is a reason that it goes with their decor is their decor often says something about the person.

Color does matter due to the fact that colors make people feel certain ways. Everyone also has colors they like and ones they dislike...and as you can imagine their sofas choices gravitates to those colors. Other then what popular culture would have us believe most people can't afford to re decorate every time colors come and go.

Also many people don't have the vocabulary to say more then "wow I really like that and it will match perfectly with my decor"
Just like us they don't like judged unfairly and don't want to sound ignorant. I realized this when a couple of friends of mine bought a painting from another artist and when showing it to me were telling me it was exactly what they wanted. They had an image in their head of what they wanted to look at prior to buying. Once again this picture had cool calm colors which amazingly matched their sofa.
My pastor and her husband also were looking for a picture. They wanted it to have a certain feeling, but couldn't tell me. I even saw the room so I could understand how they were decorating, but the real reason it helped to see the room was because it told me more about them. Now I didn't sell them one of my paintings, I sold them something out of a print catalog at the frame shop...but it helps to look at it the same way.

It is hard to hear people compare my artwork to their sofa and the scale of their room, but I now realize they often just don't have any other way to say it. Often there will be words intertwined with decor comments such as like it just makes me feel good.

Anyway I have rambled on enough,
all the best

02-27-2003, 01:59 PM
Oh, Beth, this is just what I needed to hear. Your ramble was right-on.

02-27-2003, 05:13 PM

Glad to help.:)


03-02-2003, 02:32 AM
Jo, you've been getting some good responses here; I hope you'll have time for one more.

The question of the "usefulness" of art is one that interfered with my productivity for years. It seemed that automatically the answer should be, "of course art is just a frill in people's lives. They don't really need it, like food and clothing. Some like it, some don't, but nobody needs it." That means my only possible reason for making art is my own selfish desire, and I can only benefit mankind indirectly. Also, if anyone is dependent on me for the necessities of life, it's obviously my duty to either set art aside or make art that makes money, whether or not I get any pleasure out of the making. And if I take a job that doesn't allow making art, then that's it, I'm not an artist anymore.

There came a time, some years ago now, when I was very depressed. I had a respectable job where I made money and helped to support my family, I had lots of work to do taking care of people etc., and none of it was bringing that glow of satisfaction we're led to believe we should get from doing our duty. Things looked pretty black.

Only two things got me through this period alive. Prayer and pictures. I worked near a university and during my lunch hour I would visit the art section of their library and study the works of Van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Andrew Wyeth. Others, too, but those three were the main ones. Their works spoke to something deep inside me. It was as if the agony was all on the surface, and underneath was a whole, healthy human being who recognized being spoken to.

At this point I had no hope of ever painting again. I had given that up. I just needed to see something that spoke to the inner me. To my soul, if you want to put it that way.

The way I phrased it to myself was, "One soul crying out to another - I am here, I am here." Art is capable of bypassing the intellect and speaking directly to the soul.

And I realized that art is just as important as any other necessity. It's a calling that holds mankind together just as much as medicine or law or religion. As a culture, we are practically in total ignorance of that, but it's the truth. Art (I mean visual art, because people are more understanding of music, dance, and writing) is how human beings communicated their deepest feelings before they had writing.

So I climbed out of my depression and started painting again.

Now just because I've said all this doesn't mean you have to take a big load on your shoulders and decide you need to save the world, that every stroke you make has to be fraught with meaning.

I have seen some very bad pictures bring meaning and solace to people. And I agree with what's been said already in this thread, that ordinary people often can't articulate what they want in a painting, or what they see in it, so they say awkward things, even silly things, yet they are responding on the deeper level.

Just do what you can, develop your talent to the best of your ability as opportunity arises, and believe in the worth of the work you do. You may have to do certain things to make money. Just do your best with those (you know the man who wrote the early Hardy Boys books was very embarrassed because he only did them for money, a chapter a day before breakfast, but lots of boys really enjoyed those books and he put some nice touches in them that didn't have to be there) and try to work in some pieces that are not for financial gain but just for the love of it.

You may have to take a job not related to art. That doesn't mean you have no right to make art, or no duty to make it. Fit it in where you can. Don't fall for the lie that because you have to spend a lot of time doing something else, you're no longer an artist. You're always an artist.

Last year I had to take on a paid job after several years of freedom, and it was hard. For over a year I couldn't paint, but I never gave up believing I have a right to paint, and a duty to do it. It just took some patience and effort to bring it about. So now thanks to WC, I'm back! I've had to come back many times in my life, but I always do it, because I now believe that what I'm doing matters. And now that I believe in myself, I take opportunities that come up, without guilt.

Your work matters too. You may never know how much, or who to, but you have been called to this like the rest of us. Your desire to make art is not selfish, it's the joy of doing what you are born to do. Is a boat selfish for floating?

Sorry, I don't mean to preach. But this was pivotal for me, so I wanted to share, in case it can help.

Rose Queen
03-02-2003, 02:34 PM
Angecald, thank you for your very thoughtful and insightful contribution to this thread. I think many more members than Jo will find something in it that resonates for them.

100% free webcam site! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=0) | Awesome chicks and it is absolutely free! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=2) | Watch free live sex cam - easy as 1-2-3 (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=4)

100% free webcam site! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=0) | Awesome chicks and it is absolutely free! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=2) | Watch free live sex cam - easy as 1-2-3 (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=4)

03-02-2003, 03:12 PM
I knew I would find help here. And like Rose Queen said, others will definitely benefit as well. Thanks.

03-02-2003, 03:30 PM
Uses of art -yes.
I just came from viewing (one of) Cezzane's apples and oranges pictures at the High in Atlanta. I believe as Kandinsky that the less practical use and, in fact, the less "subject" the more pure the art and any emotion evoked for both viewer and artist. But, anyway, the reason I mention the apple and oranges is because although it's colors have been imprinted on my mind since long, long ago, it is the perspective and solidity of the painting that was discussed by the museum's director and also by the last critic I read regarding this piece.
Well, it is kind of like the debate at about the time of this painting about drawing and color: which is more important... Hm, well, Cezzane's drawing lacked much according to some, but began to usher in a new age of painting according to others. It was the latter who had their eyes open and not the first, who thought so much of subject representation. Art is no use to some :) but adds so much to the lives of others.
Criticisms and debates can go 'round and 'round art and it's worth; it still does not affect my Love for it.

03-03-2003, 04:44 PM
I think this is an issue which most creative people must grapple with at some point. Some of us are just driven to create, and as one of these people, a question always plagued me: WHY was I diven to create? I mean, I'm a practical person. Why would I be in a field which I see as being so "impractical"? But I finally realized that I was driven to create despite seeing it as "impractical". Perhaps art, music, literature, and other creative means of expression are not strictly utilitarian. But that does not mean they are not useful! Even primitive man (or woman!) in the caves in France felt compelled to paint on the walls.... without the art, music, and literature- all the impractical creative works of history, where would we be? Without Jules Verne or da Vinci, would we have submarines now? Space travel? These are things which came from creativity... sometimes art, sometimes science, but creativity nonetheless....

I understand how difficult it can be when practicality rears its ugly head. I have been a full time artist for about ten years, and it's not always an easy path; certainly not financially speaking. I know how it feels to have people tell you, "Oh, you're so talented", when you want to reply, "Oh, I'm so broke!" There have been many times when I have thought, "What am I doing? Am I insane??" But as mentioned in some of the other posts here, I think it comes down to faith... faith in your spiritual beliefs, faith in yourself, faith in your work. Nobody else can tell you what the right path for you is. But the people who support you will help you through the times when the path becomes difficult. And they will want to see or hear your stories, what you have to say as a result of walking that path. Nobody can tell those stories but you. But other people may find themselves on a similar path as well. Sharing, though our art, our music, whatever creative outlet our stories take, benefits other people- we just don't always know about it.


03-03-2003, 08:12 PM
a very long time ago, when I was little I wanted to be a painter. And I heard my mother say something about artist and how they never make much money. And I didnt paint for along time. For many years I felt incomplete that part of me was missing something. A few years ago, the divine started to speak to me about painting, everytime I turned the tv on a artist was being profiled, people said things to me about being a painter, I hadnt started yet, my daughter said, " whats the worst that can happen you buy some paint, a brush, a canvas and if you dont like what you make you paint over it and start again. I went to the art store the man in the store says to me" whats the worst that can happen you buy some paint, a brush, a canvas and if you dont like what you make you paint over it and start again." When I started to paint, I used my paint to help me heal. It didnt have to make sense or appeal to anyone but me. Selfish oh yea, but I had to be, everything else I do for everyone else, my painting I do for me. I paint energy, I use my painting for meditation, inspiration and healing. Does the world want to buy my work, I dont know. My family loves it my friends like it, and my mother well she still doesnt get it. Probably never will. I guess what Im trying to say is when you create it has to be about you for you. Hope you dont quit the world always needs more artists.
Its lawyers I think there enough of.

03-03-2003, 09:38 PM
Debi- I think we have all run into naysayers..... My dad once (ok, more than once) gave me the "grow up, you're not 19 anymore" speech. My mom didn't. Last year I had my first solo exhibition, and was the featured artist at a show for the first time. My dad told everyone he knew, "Hey, my daughter is the featured artist." Just a step, but it's progress....

I agree, no more lawyers.......... ;)


03-04-2003, 08:07 AM
[i]. . . I paint energy, I use my painting for meditation, inspiration and healing. Does the world want to buy my work, I dont know. My family loves it my friends like it, and my mother well she still doesnt get it. Probably never will. I guess what Im trying to say is when you create it has to be about you for you. [/B]
Wise words, good thoughts. I am starting a new painting TODAY!!!

Pea Eye
03-04-2003, 08:48 AM
Hey Jo

03-05-2003, 10:22 AM
Hi Jo,
I don't near have the energy to write such eloquent long responses as the others have right now, but- I just wanted to let you know, you are not alone. I am also going thru this a little right now, but over the past 2 years, have had some really hard bouts with this issue, it's the main issue that effects my work. And- I just wanted to tell everyone Thank you soooooo much for your words, you are right , they have helped more than Jo- they have helped me, and yes, probably many others.
Jo, all I can say Is just keep going, no matter how slow, or painful- use your work to work thru it, ignore those negative voices, listen to your muse, appreciate your talent, celebrate it, we are creators, we can do something a lot won't or cannot do. so take strength in yourself. don't give up. that goes for anyone reading this- never, ever, give up- and never let anyone talk you out of your dreams.
hugs & thanks to everyone!
p.s. Jo, your work is beautiful, you are too talented to quit- so just forget about that, ok! :)
I really liked 'High Water Mark' the colors were beautiful, and I just liked it.

03-21-2003, 02:24 AM
Hi Jo,
I just had a "melt down," too. I read your posting and felt an immediate connection to the kinds of questions you are asking yourself. I've had a very different experience but, for some odd reason, am challenging myself with very similar kinds of questions. Who knew?

I've had a bad year and a great day. I was terminated yesterday (3/19) after 15 years of employment in a corporate environment and 3-4 years of bone-chilling dissatisfaction with my employer. Contrary to popular belief, prostitution isn't illegal in the State of Wisconsin: One can legally sell one's life, soul, or body in the name of a job and call it "gainful employment." I did this but always felt fragmented because I had no recognized outlet for my creative side - - that part of myself that I enjoy, like and rely upon whenever I need strength or affirmation. I would stay up until wee hours of the morning to make time to honor/acknowledge the artistic, expressive, creative side of myself and almost literally crawl into work the next day feeling emotionally fulfilled….

It sounds like you might be approaching questions that are similar to the ones I'm asking myself, but from a different vantage point. I do have a couple of opinions, some of which I plan to live out in the next several months….

To be "selfish" is NOT synonymous with being intrinsically "bad." But, to be self-aware is critically important (I only wish more people were!!!): Each person finds a different way to become self-knowing. The fortunate ones find creative outlets as you have. The path you have chosen – and that I am now choosing - can be frustrating and challenging – and there aren’t necessarily clear-cut answers. But isn't art this way? creativity? life? love? parenting? Ultimately, does it matter to you that there is any greater meaning in your work than the satisfaction you gain just from painting? If you love what you do someone else is bound to appreciate it. I developed insurance delivery systems: It doesn’t matter how others perceive my work - or my contributions - in the grand scheme. Technology is gone tomorrow. Art is not. The value of what you offer comes from the expression of a belief you hold inside of yourself. Unfortunately, self-expression makes the value/worth of your work easier to seek validation or question with the outside world…if for no other reason than to receive confirmations & affirmations. Fortunately, the answer always lies within you (ourselves) and is held to our own level of scrutiny and justification.

The history of art is chock-full of self-questioning, unfulfilled, impoverished artists who are enjoying a post-humus last laugh. Who knows, someday you just might be one of them! You are in a profession that allows and encourages you to express yourself, with all your talent, shortcomings and self-doubt. The very way that you live, and honor creativity and self-expression, advances “art” and paves the way for others to follow your lead. If nothing else, you give permission to others to reflect, self-question, self-doubt and self-explore (which are primary components to self-expression).

Get back to painting and satisfy your “selfish, creative urge!” If you feel focused and alive and are able to suspend time while you paint, you know more about yourself, about life and about “being” than many others who do not dare to create.

PS I visited your Web site and your work is exquisite. I guess even the most talented experience self doubt. I'm feeling quite a bit of self doubt these days, but here's how I've decided to cope. I'm setting a time limit when I feel the need to question myself or my work - or why I'm alive! (e.g., I can doubt myself for up to 30 minutes per day). Then I move forward with a purpose and a plan. This gives me permission to "be" with my feelings and still enjoy periods of productivity and self expression.

03-24-2003, 02:41 PM
Moondancer- go for it!
I am glad you wrote. welcome to wet canvas. :)
you will probably be much happier now, and healthier.
let us know if you start your self a website
good luck!

03-27-2003, 04:34 PM
Originally posted by debi-d
a very long time ago, when I was little I wanted to be a painter. And I heard my mother say something about artist and how they never make much money. And I didnt paint for along time. For many years I felt incomplete that part of me was missing something.

My Gran, who I looked up to, when told that I wanted to be an artist said "ARTISTS HAVE ALWAYS STARVED!" Combined with the fact that my talented father was too scared to make a living as an artist himself and was trying to push me to do it in his place (criticised my every scribble from preschool age), and encouraged me to do only commercially successful work its no suprise that I have an artist's block the size the size of a continent.

As a teenager I took part in successful group exhibitions and worked as a designer for a gallery, but have never felt that I am a "real" artist. I really struggle to both start and finish work, and if its not a commissioned order it will probably not get finished at all! I do some nice sketches, (infrequently, usually when on holiday), but want to be a full time artist again.

I have been invited to take part in a prestigious group exhibition in May, and am panicking! I have read the artist's way, and its great, really helped me get in touch with why I have a block, but just can't seem to get round my block. Its weird, if someone says draw or paint "x" I have no problem, but when I have to pick a subject myself I am wracked with indecision, its tragic and pathetic. Any tips, suggestions, inspirations gratefully received.


03-27-2003, 05:41 PM
I found it helpful to carry a camera with me. Walking, driving, anything. I take a camera. Whenever I see something which I think is interesting, such as a tree, flowers growing by a fence, a sunset, anything... I take pictures. They don't have to be great, but I find having them sparks inspiration when I need it.

It also seemed important to learn to silence the inner critic while starting to work on a piece. When I am working on something, until the image on the canvas is approaching completion, I am never happy with it. I finally realized that is because I am comparing it to the completed image in my mind's eye. If I can just keep working at it, when it is about 85-90% done, the images are more similar... only then do I let the inner critic jump in.

Best of luck with your exhibition!!!!