Monday, February 01, 2010

Danger!!! Artist in the Doldrums

Snow in the mountains above Santa Barbara...I took this shot from East Beach, east of the pier along the beach.

I know, I know...I've dealt with them before. You finish up a painting and then nothing happens no matter how hard you try. Only, I finished that painting a month ago. I actually did some paintings since then but that was forcing myself. I don't think you paint up to par when you force yourself to paint. I did it because I'm doing this full day job. If I am not doing something towards art during the day and into the evening I feel guilty of not working. I've been working since the 10th grade. It started with lawnmowing, bus boy, the military and so one...the longest I ever went without having a job since then was about 15 days....and yep, I felt miserable the entire 15 days, hahaha. I paint during the day and if I'm not painting I'm running errands for painting...going to meetings since I'm on the board for our Artist Guild, picking up supplies, framing etc. I then paint into the evening or am going through reference photos or doing my computing stuff...which usually has to do with art. I spent 6 hours today going back through my old reference photos because I couldn't come up with something with my new ones.....finally I gave up and went to the garage to build a 12"X16" pochade box...for painting. All I need now is the hinges and that will be done. At least I got something done today artwise.

The drive down to Santa Barbara as one wave of our storms was blowing through.

When I noticed I was in, not getting in, the doldrums I decided to try something different. I decided to try some Marine art since I like that type of work but never get around to doing it much since I spend so much time doing landscapes. Sometimes switching gears is good and it works to get me back on track....not this time. Add the dissapointments with learning something new and it has made it worse, hahaha....hence my heading down to the garage today to cut wood into the evening....and that's actually a good thing since I love to cut wood and build something. Thank heavens I wanted to build a larger pochade box. My 9"X12" box that I built works great but I figured why not be able to do 12"x16" sizes too.
One thing about painting...and being in an economy that is keeping sales almost to nil, is that you get plenty of time to think. That's not always a good thing. Too much of anything can be bad for you. I learned years and years ago that thinking can sometimes get your butt into trouble. When sales get slow I paint even more than usual...when I paint I think. I think of decisions I've made, slow sales, trying new subject matter, slow sales, art direction & career choices...and slow sales. It's not good to think too much.....I'm typing this because I figured it was better to get it out than to keep it all in.

I have to paint a plein air painting soon at a ranch here in the valley for the museum up in Los, no money in it, I just thought it was very cool they asked me first to do the painting which will be auctioned off to one of their members and it will be used for their advertising and invitations to their annual BBQ for members soon. I think it is really cool that I live here in this valley full of great artists and I got the offer I took it. I just need to get out of the doldrums before I go to do that painting...I don't want to come up with a big fat Zero for the day spent there....then I'll have to go back which isn't as bad as that sounds but I want to get out there and do a good job the first time. The only saving grace is that it is supposed to rain again tomorrow and that might last for the rest of the week. Too muddy to drive into the back country of the ranch which is huge...mountains almost to the ocean.

State in Santa Barbara.

Normally when I get into the doldrums I go out with my camera and get reference photos for future work but I did that last week...I'm going to try that again early tomorrow morning. If that doesn't work then I'll finish the pochade box....if that doesn't work then I'm going to cut my ear off....Now that this is finished I'll be up into the wee hours of the night going through more reference photos. Yikes!


Marian Fortunati said...

Hey Ron... Here's a link to a great article that my gallery sent me when I was whining about only one sale... I thought it was a pretty good piece of advice:

It's called "Surviving Tough Times"... Doesn't get you out of the doldrums.... but it's interesting. YOU, sound like you're doing it all... I continue to admire you!

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Marian,
No, not all...hahaha. I read the article and it was pretty well written...had some really good points in it too. I appreciate that there are people out there who voice an opinion that is on the artist's side. I always felt that art was a hobby and not something to make a career out of. I had the chance to try doing it as a career so it is important that the art sell. I understand the economy wreaks havoc on art sales....but I don't have to like it, hahaha.

Like the article said though, I appreciate the extra time to work harder at learning some things with painting. I don't really have to worry about the pressure of other artists though...there are too many to compete against so why do that. I have enough hassle pushing myself to get better. I am using the downtime wisely...trying to improve, taking care of the little details behind art, exploring.

Art, like any job, can be tough at times. Everything revolves around it. Oh well....I'm plugging along. Hope to see you Marian at the Blinn house if I get juried in. Will be crossing my fingers.

Anonymous said...

The doldrums are tough... I can really identify with those hours spent going through reference photos. So much to paint, but the muse doesn't speak...

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Ralph,
I had it bad Ralph, haha. I had to go out the other day and do the plein air painting for the museum at Rancho Arbolado and got the gas back and brought 2 paintings home done up there. Whew!