Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Being Uninspired

There are days when I would rather do just about anything than paint. And not in a typical, "man, I wish I didn't have to work today" kind of way, but rather in a "the thought of picking up a paintbrush brings me physical pain" kind of way.

I never know when these moments are going to hit. Take today for instance. The sun is shining, there is a nice breeze blowing through the park, it is an all around awesome day. My mood, although not singing-show tunes-in-the-street good, has also been much worse. But, today I find myself looking at the easel, at the several half finished paintings scattered around the studio, and at the half dozen freshly primed canvases begging for an image with a feeling of dread. It starts in my chest, and radiates out towards my fingers and toes.

Despite the title of this post, it is actually not so much about being uninspired. If I waited for inspiration to hit before I started working, I would create a couple of paintings a year, rather than a couple a week. No, there have been many days when, despite not being inspired to paint any specific image, I have sat down at the easel and gotten to work. I have pressed on through the doubts and blocks, sometimes ending up with crap, but other times ending up with something "inspiring." So, what is it that on some days stops even the will to press on, to, as my painting professor at Furman used to say, "shut up and paint?"

I have absolutely no idea.

Perhaps my brain needs a break from the weight of my obsession pressing on it. Maybe my body has some type of internal restart button for when the system gets overloaded. Or perhaps I need to give myself a break, take stock of the huge amount of work that I do on a typical day, and go out and enjoy the sunshine. Maybe it is a day to pay attention to the beauty around me, to count my blessings and start again tomorrow. Or, just maybe, in the immortal words of Olaf Sorensen, it is time to just "shut up and paint."

(totally unrelated note: The photo at the top of this post is my actual paint pallet. Several people recently had commented on it when in the studio, so I thought I would share.)

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