It seems that after a prolonged period of focused creative work, in which we're trying to improve or develop certain skills, we often reach a kind of impasse. Sometimes, we may even doubt that we're meant to be painting at all. It's a common byproduct born out of dissatisfaction with our lack of improvement.
Yes, the answer is to persevere, and there are things we can do to assist in breaking through to a new level. But, there is also something I call "The Time Away Effect". You can't really plan this out, but it often occurs when something temporarily distracts us from our usual painting routine. I recently was stopped from painting for over a week, while we took care of the passing of a close family member, and my daughter's wedding. We were completely absorbed in all the things that go along with such events. I gave no time at all to my painting during this period.
When I was able to return to my studio, I found that I had a perceptible hunger to paint something…anything! I prepared my palette and went at it, creating this painting from a field study I had done over a year ago. As I worked my way through the stages of the process, I found myself spontaneously doing things with the design and the paint-handling that were the answer to my previous blockage. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process, and felt that I was gaining a natural charge over creating and taking advantage of the "happy accidents" that accompany moments when we're painting with freedom and confidence. A real delight, and a motivator to push on.
I think that our amazing brain understands on a deep unconscious level what we want and are struggling with. If we sustain a focused state of effort and experimentation with what we want to achieve we prepare our mind to "discover" the solution. Sometimes a night's sleep will yield the results, but other times an extended period of "time away" allows all kinds of unconscious connections to be made. This is the natural creative cycle I find at work in my painting: desire to create; intense study to raise conscious awareness; extended focused experimentation and effort; a period of saturation and dissatisfaction; and then …a break from the frustrating dilemma that allows the assimilation of needed awareness and skill to percolate and surface. The joy and release that comes with the breakthrough is predicated on the sustained focused desire and effort. The cycle begins anew. Work hard, but don't discount taking some "time away" when you hit the frustration and discouragement point.
UP IN MY HILLS
©Jimmy Longacre 2015
12X16 oil on canvas panel
subjective realist landscape paintings