Okay, I'm going to take you on a little ride through my artistic brain.
The other day I listened to Seth Godin's book Leap while I was painting. He quoted a book written by David Gibbins called Why comics work. In the sense of comic strips. Now when a comic strip is written key elements of the story are drawn out, not every element though. There are significant pieces of the story left out. What happens is you, the reader, fill in the story line. This is exactly why comic strips are effective in telling stories. The reader fills in the necessary information that has been omitted. As an example, the heroine is teetering on the cliff edge. The next frame shows the hero flying. The next frame sees the hero with the heroine on solid ground. You have just filled in the story that the hero saved the heroine from the cliff.
You with me so far? Next my creative brain went to extrapolating the idea to my painting process. I seem to be thinking about that a lot lately. Even reading a book about how artists work. Turns out we artistic types have a variety of different ways we work and not all are successful. I digress.
If the first comic strip square is the concept or idea for a new painting and the next comic strip square is the finished painting, what is the part in the middle that gets filled in?
What the image above shows you is the characteristics that I meander through. The left column shows you the qualities that are generated, things such as joy, artistry, bringing a vision to life. On the right hand side are the things I wade through, things such as doubt, uncertainty, frustration, boredom etc.
I said to my husband yesterday it feels sort of like the doldrums in boating terms. Where literally there is no wind. I meet those doldrums in the painting, almost every painting, where there seems to be no wind. I feel like I'm at a standstill.
I'm okay with all this because it's part of the story. What do you do while you are in the doldrums? Well you wait, you blow puffs of air into the sail to generate some movement, you entertain yourself, you grab a paddle and start propelling yourself by your will power.
In terms of painting, when I'm in the doldrums, I surf the net, have another cup of coffee, read a book, organize the order of my upcoming painting, all while circling the current painting.
The good thing is that I know the doldrums will end. At least I know that now. I didn't always know that. I used to get scared and questions my dedication, and wonder if I was up to this career. A whole lot of unnecessary drama.
Now that I can recognize that I'm actually in the doldrums, I can let up on the pressure and striving. Just know where I am on the map - on the journey through this painting, helps me relax into the process.
I love this idea of the comic strip because I get to write the story in between and I can write it anyway I like.
What do you do when you are in the doldrums of a project? Leave me a comment.