Friday, January 4, 2019

Getting started... or not.


Beginning the New Year with all kinds of good intentions is a time-honored tradition. But you know what, the timing is ridiculous! Most of us actually begin January a bit exhausted from December and yet we still play mind games challenging ourselves to jump in with determination to be more productive/loving/honest/creative/happy... and skinny.

This year I have the added pressure of wanting to submit new work to a national exhibit, and I've got  something different in mind. I basically have two weeks to do a fairly large painting of a subject that is totally foreign to me, and therefore scary. (That's all the detail I'm sharing at this point because I don't quite trust that I will be successful.)

Honestly, after being irritated with myself for not getting started, a sudden realization hit me: if I don't start, I can't screw it up.

And there you have it - the niggling thought behind creative procrastination.

That same morning Robert and Sara Genn's newsletter, The Painter's Keys, arrived in my inbox with the headline "Self-delusory avoidance activity." That got my attention!

I swear, this came right after realizing the subconscious reason for my un-motivation. If you've ever been plagued with any kind of "avoidance activity" do yourself a favor and read Sara's newsletter, especially the part where she makes suggestions about how to become unblocked. At first it may seem like a list of how to do nothing, but in reality, I think it's more about consciously changing habits and taking pressure off. In essence: make space so you can find the path to your creative process.

Just say "ah" and let it be.

And then get moving!

Thinking back on other times I felt blocked before starting a new project, I had the same frustrating avoidance when I wanted to do interiors. My first was a single chair in a corner. I reworked it several times to fix perspective and play with the light. And finally I had Home Alone.
interior painting, classical realism, original oil painting
Home Alone ©2014 Dorothy Lorenze
That first simple interior gave me the confidence to try a more involved view. Sitting Pretty was definitely more challenging and in the end, even more rewarding.

interior painting, classical realism, original oil painting
Sitting Pretty ©2014 Dorothy Lorenze

Since then I've done quite a few interiors and enjoyed working on them immensely. Just about all have sold, but there will be one, Cabinet of Basketry, in Art Show: Bedford 2019 at St. Mathews beginning January 25th. Come by if you are in the area, it's always a good show.

interior painting, classical realism, original oil painting
Cabinet of Basketry ©2017 Dorothy Lorenze
So, fortunately, while I had my brilliant realization that not trying a new genre might mean not failing, I also realized that if I did give this new painting a shot, at the very least I would learn something. And, as with painting interiors, I might really enjoy it!

The new painting is now underway. It may not be completed in time for the national show deadline, but I'm excited about it and I'll certainly learn something. More importantly, it feels good not to give up.

If you are struggling with getting started on any kind of project this new year - take a breath, look at it honestly to figure out what you really want to tackle and why, and if it's still important and not just something to check off a list, take some baby steps to get started. Once you get going it might turn out to be just the spring tonic you need.

Have a creative and rewarding 2019! 
And thank you for joining me on my art journey. 

For all you new readers, you can check out earlier studio news here where you can also search for past subjects. Please share this newsletter with anyone you think might find it of interest.