Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hard Times

It's time to come clean. I'm struggling. Badly. Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time can see it, if only based on the extreme drop-off of blog posts. Add to that the promises I keep making about offering videos that my electronic skills simply don't match, and what you get is a tired artist- frustrated, bored with what I'm doing, and seemingly unable to pull myself out of this rut.

It's a creative rut, the longest one I've been in since I started painting many years ago. A year and a half ago, we moved into a temporary apartment while our house was being built and since then, I haven't been able to find my groove. I've looked, believe me I have, but it's hiding and I'm becoming frightened. Maybe I shouldn't even post this blog, it may depress or worry people, and if it does, I sincerely apologize. But you know me- I've always been honest about what's happening in my studio... both the good, and the bad. This is about as bad as it gets.

I step into the studio, turn on the lights, and feel a heavy weight descend on me. I don't know the name of the weight, though it feels like exhaustion, or maybe expectation, or maybe even the most terrifying of all feelings for life-long artists, abnegation. I fear that my creative impulse has fled, that it's finished with me, and that nothing will lure it back into my life.

The only thing I know how to do right now is to keep working and hope that creativity will find me again, rescue me from a future I can't even imagine: one without the desire to Make.

In order to try and find something that reignites me, I switch gears now and then, and try things I haven't tried before. Lately, that's been using collage and paint on a larger scale than usual, with a different substrate than I'm used to- cradled panels.

These rigid surfaces, pre-prepared and ready for any medium, are actually quite lovely to work on. They're spendy, but I'm desperate, so I purchased four of them that measure 18" x 24", and two that measure 24" x 36".

I dug out all my collage papers, stacks of them, and some hand-dyed fabrics from my crazy, lovely dyeing days, and went at three of the smaller panels with a vengeance.



I've been seeking subtlety in my work; in particular, in my color palette, which is usually bright (bordering on garish, but I love that about it), sparkly, and very high contrast. I've been wanting for a long time to soothe those colors, put them into a new, more peaceful context.

That was my goal starting out.


This first piece didn't quite get there... it seems that even though my muse might have abandoned me, my color palette is still very much alive and kicking (and screaming), and wasn't prepared to go down without a fight.

The next piece was somewhat more successful in the hunt for nuance.


The bright colors are still there, but somehow more tamed.

The third piece was the real bitchkitty, though, and fought me tooth and nail through many layers of paint, paper, paint, paper, tears of frustration, moments of giving up, paint, and more paper. I think I finally nailed it, though, and this is the piece I'm most happy with at the moment:


Color palette: still present; abstract composition: achieved; subtlety: there, baby.

This helps. And it may also offer me a new direction. I'm sniffing along the road towards creativity, like a hound hot on the trail of killer, and I will find it. I hope you'll stay tuned during this difficult transition... I just know my work has more to say.

17 comments:

elle said...

Afternoon, Judi! I'd say you are very much alive and kicking. You are doing and the fun part will just have to catch up. I'm hanging in here and rooting for all I'm worth. Goooo, Judi!

Vicki W said...

Hey, the fact that you are in there creating is all that matters. The spark will ignite in it's own sweet time. Keep at it!

Eva said...

"It all looks so easy" -- that's what people may think when looking at abstract art. Do they have an idea what kind of fight it sometimes can be? And what an emptiness and frustration comes from barren soil and (presumed) stagnation. Yet, I have experienced, however long such phases may have taken, that the urge to create will join with new inspiration. I trust it. Sometimes you can't tell how long it will take. But -- as we see from these great pieces shown: The struggle was rewarded!

Penny said...

Small beginnings lead to great creations.

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

Honey.....honey.......Honey! Be gentle with yourself...you are in the middle of a move...reconstruction...and well I am sure there is some disorder in finding your supplies. I have made a big move...and we just bought a small house over in Columbus near Ken's treatments at the hospital....so I totally understand. Give yourself time to relax...these works offer more promise than you can actually see. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Bev Redmond said...

Keep on keepin' on! You've weathered slumps before and always rose above them. The pieces you've posted show that you're on the way back up this time, too.

Love you......Mom

Jeannie said...

You know when you are totally exhausted and fall into bed. There is that whole body twitch as the remaining energy leaves your body and your drift off. I have come to realize that creating is sort of like that. You go along and bam - nothing comes - the muse has left the building. I have come to realize that this is the signal that a major change is coming. It may be something as simple as using dye instead of paint, but it stuns me and all I can do is forge ahead. The waiting for the light bulb to come is the hardest, especially if you are impatient, like me. You are creating so wonderful art. I know you will soon find what it is that "twinkles your lights". The waiting is a killer, though. xoxo

Lisa said...

You are doing great! I love all three pieces. Be kind to yourself and enjoy!

indiaartfair said...

Excellent pictures, really love it. Thanks for sharing!

Art

Gillian Pearce said...

Ah. Sometimes it does seem a struggle doesn't it? But I don't believe the creative spark every leaves us. Sometimes it just doesn't look like we expect it to look. Or things don't move as quickly as we would like. And struggling to find it just seems to cover it up more. Be kind to yourself. I know it's a cliche but "this too shall pass". Your art is beautiful.

Lynda said...

Judi, I'm with you on the rut but mine is the overwhelmed one. I just wrote about it on my blog this week. Maybe it's the time of year. Anyway, you are still putting out some good stuff. The second piece is absolutely beautiful! Hang in there!

Shoshi said...

I really sympathise, Judi. We are about to be in the same position, moving into a new house once the builders have finished the renovation. I have a wonderful new fitted studio awaiting me, and a huuuuge amount of stuff to unpack into it, quite apart from our own move, and getting Mum's stuff out of storage and getting her annexe ready, and settling her in (that will be stressful!) - I also suffer from M.E. and have very low stamina and have to rest LOTS, and a move isn't really condusive to pacing myself! Even a normal move can leave a healthy person exhausted, and you need time to recover. Also, the atmosphere is not peaceful when there are boxes all over the place and you can't find things for weeks! I am sure that in time you will find your mojo creeping back and all will be well again, and you will begin to enjoy your wonderful new studio to the full!

If you want to see what's going on in our new house, and lots of pics of my new ARTHaven studio too, hop over to my blog!

Keep smiling!

Shoshi

HollyM said...

I like it when bloggers are honest. It makes them human and it makes me feel normal. I've had those ruts and come through them. I think they occur when one may actually just be tired. Maybe physically and mentally.
I think it's good to search out new media. I've looked at those substrates and wondered about them. I'm glad you pushed through it. I really like the second one!

Sherryl said...

I have been in the same boat for about a year. It was very frustrating and I kept making it worse by pushing. I decided to take a breather and do other things. I have been playing with 16" fashion dolls. Even my blog has been neglected. I think I am almost ready but there is a fear lurking in the back of my mind...

Kayshine said...


Hey Judi. This may be my first comments to you but certainly not the first time reading your blog. Thank you for always openly sharing your process. I'll be following and sending my positive thoughts. And I love the final piece you ended with.

http://jclaffey.blogspot.com

Tigger said...

Judi, I know how that feels when you really WANT to create something but you just feel drained when you try. That really is a cue to take some time off. I did the digital art thing for a few years and was pretty good at it. When my dog died I fell into a deep funk and didn't want to do anything. I stopped blogging altogether for over a year before I felt fair enough to start again. If you are not dependent upon blogging for your living then I would suggest a blogging vacation. Fill that void with art tutorials for every wild technique you can find. The sillier the better. Eventually you'll get your groove back.It might not be the same groove as before but you just might like it anyway.

Julie Bazuzi said...

I just recently discovered your blog and wanted to tell you how much I have been inspired by you, especially your tutorials on stacked journalling and stamp-making. Your comments on creating your own source materials really resonate with me. So, maybe it will be some comfort to know that your spark is not gone; it's reflecting through others at this very moment.