Creating art is hard work!
Some context….I’m at my Mum and Dad’s on Salt Spring Island. I’ve joined them for their 14-day quarantine on their return to Canada and so far, we’ve had a lovely time together! On our To-Do list is to paint so a couple of days ago, Mum and I set up a still life – she painted in watercolour and I used pastels. We know it’s all about the doing and getting down to painting, rather than about the outcome, but still there was certainly a lot of moaning and groaning along the way. Despite our uncertainty, we were both quite pleased with the results. Still, we both agreed – creating art is hard work!!!
We laughed together at how non-painting friends and fans will say, “Oh how idyllic to spend a couple of hours painting.” And it is idyllic but not in the way they think. They have noooo idea of the effort that goes into art-making. They can’t imagine the frustrations, the angst, the blood sweat and tears (okay, slight exaggeration, but only slight!) that goes into taking an idea and creating an artistic interpretation of it on paper or canvas.
And the exhaustion! I’m always hungry after painting!! This makes complete sense when you realise that the brain (because we’re talking about mental exhaustion) which represents just 2% of a person’s total body weight accounts for 20% of the body’s energy use.
There are sooooo many considerations and decisions to make when creating art – what to paint/draw/scupt, how to set up the subject, deciding on the best way to represent and compose it (for instance by doing thumbnails and sketches), determining what colours you see, selecting what colours to use, choosing how best to draw it up, knowing how to push through when you get to the ‘ugly stage”, and then how to know when it’s time to stop. You’re problem-solving all the way, trying your best to translate what you see. So yes, creating art is hard work!!
Now let me take you briefly through my pastel journey, from idea to outcome.
I forgot to take a photo of the subject at the start. I didn’t think the lighting would change much as we were working inside but by the end, the dark cast shadows thrown to the left had almost disappeared. I’ve included a photo I took at the end of the painting session and you’ll see the difference between it and my thumbnail (which was drawn from life at the start of the session).
For me, no matter how much painting I do, each new piece represents opportunity and also anxiety. The rewards and joy that come from creating though far outweigh the struggle and that’s why I keep doing this art-making thing. I embrace the struggle because I know if that’s not there, it’s a sign I’ve begun to resort to formula. If it’s too easy, I need to take stock and set myself a challenge. I’m always trying to push myself to evolve as a painter. I may be drained at the end of a painting session but I’m also fulfilled and also deeply happy on a soul-level. I’ve done what I’m here to do.
So what about you? Do you agree or disagree that creating art is hard work? I’d LOVE to know your opinion so please leave a comment!
Until next time,
And here we are!!!
And by popular request (in the Comments), here’s Mum’s lovely watercolour painting!