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Sometimes it just takes a while

Reference photo

It’s funny how motivation can strike, run hot, and then…it’s gone. This happens more times than I like to admit when it comes to my painting. I see a specific scene. I may take a photo. Or I may get the idea for a concept – perhaps an idea for a series of works with no particular image in mind. The idea may roll around in my head for a while. At some point, I begin to get a strong urge that this is what I need to be working on next.

Preliminary sketch

I do some preliminary sketches to flesh out a composition. The concept is still appealing to me. I determine the size it will be and prep my surface. The basic scene is sketched out and I may even do an underpainting. I am still feeling the tingle of excitement.

I lay out the initial set of pastels that I plan to use, establishing a color plan. The excitement is

The underpainting

still there. Those first few strokes with the pastel are hesitant, yet there is the anticipation of yet to be determined potential.

And then the real work begins. Yes, it is work! Some people think that because I am an artist, that I play all day. That is a topic for another day. Trust me, it is work that I love – most of the time – but it is work. I digress… I work the image, adding color, adjusting shapes, tweaking values. It seems to be moving along nicely. This process may span a few hours, days or even weeks. And then WHAM… Just not feeling it anymore. The excitement has long since dissipated and sometimes I wonder why I even chose the subject. Sometimes a good night’s rest is all I need to feel the motivation again. Or maybe not.

In progress image

The piece I had been working on just before writing this, and shown in this post, sat on the easel for days - no, weeks. (In all fairness, there was a vacation in there and some other major decisions that my husband and I were working on in that time frame.) Back from vacation, and it still sat abandoned on the easel. I knew I needed to get back to it, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

It took reading a few articles in a pastel magazine, and viewing the work of other pastel artists. There it was, a tingle. At first, I felt it in my hands – the need to be handling the pastels, working the surface. A few more articles and my head got in the game. Ideas were starting to form. Ideas for new pieces. I am not one to abandon a half-finished image, so I knew that to pursue my next idea, I needed to complete the piece on my easel.

"Vino Alfresco", pastel

It started with making just a few marks, adjusting a color, adding a

highlight. There it was. The excitement was coming back. I made a few more marks. Before long I was well into taking this piece past its ‘stuck point’. I was off and running. Several sessions later, it was done! Wow that didn’t take long. I ask myself why I let it sit abandoned for so long. I have observed that pieces that challenge me artistically can do this. The motivation wanes when I don’t see the progress on the easel that I saw in my head. I eventually get there. Sometimes it just takes a while.

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