When you Hit a Plateau
An artist's journey is just like life - learning, practicing, playing, improving working. And just like life, sometimes we feel like we are going backwards, sliding downhill, loosing grip on what you used to do well, what used to feel good and come more naturally.
I have a theory about this. As you learn and seek to be a better artist, you are trying to incorporate more knowledge, more techniques, more possibilities. Or maybe you are trying to correct a 'bad' habit. I say 'bad' because this is art, not chemistry. Nothing is going to explode if you mix the wrong thing. Still maybe you realize something you do is hindering something else you would LIKE to do.
So now you are ready to create with new perimeters swimming around in your brain. The times you try to do something new you are likely to 'see' the TRY. It might look forced, overworked or just plan wrong. Don't despair, remember you are trying to learn something new – good for you.
I like to draw an analogy to watching my daughter play soccer. In the young years I called it the 'swarm of bees' technique. Every kid on the field is following that ball trying to get a foot on it. This is an important learning stage. They are practicing kicking, dribbling, and if you are really lucky - passing. My girl followed that ball with the kind of killer instinct that can not be taught!
Then they had to start playing positions. Suddenly, she was so focused that some of the joy came out of it. She looked awkward and slow and far too reserved. But she was learning. She had new rules she was trying to incorporate. That takes a lot of focus.
Eventually, she got it. The new perimeters became the second, second nature. And she looked good out there again. And most of all – she enjoyed it again.
So push through those tough patches. Don't give up on trying to improve – you can do it. It just takes practice. Practice until it becomes the second, second nature. Enjoy that phase. Celebrate by painting and painting and painting. Then try to improve again..
This Saturday "Invasive ll" will debut in North Hills Art Center's show, 'Art of the Earth'. This piece is 24 x 18, it is fragmented into 6 pieces - 3 up, 3 down. It is pictured in my backyard among its inspiration. Yep - I have bamboo in my backyard, yep - it's invasive. Trust me, buy the painting, do not plant your own bamboo. In my defense, the bamboo lived here before I did. I just try to keep it at bay, it's not easy.
All sales from the "Art of the Earth" show benefit Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, and the artist. I wanted to submit 'Invasive ll' for this event, because Beechwood Farms works hard to educate the public about the danger of invasive species. My kids and I spend a lot of time at Beechwood. We even enjoyed visiting the goats hired to clean up some invasive plants a couple of years ago.
'Invasive ll' is mounted on reclaimed elections signs (see pervious posts to learn more) making it truly Art of the Earth.
I will have 2 other works in the show too - 'The Thaw' and 'Seagulls at Dusk'. These paintings are also mounted on reclaimed election signs.
I am one of 70 artists on exhibit in this show of 153 pieces - That's a LOT of Earth love.
One more note - A free ASWP Household membership ($50.00 value) is included with the purchase of any artwork from this show, courtesy of the Audubon Society of Western PA.
Putting it All Together
Paintings successfully displayed unframed – check. Fragmented design successfully executed – check. Now I'll circle back to wanting to have an Eco-friendly presentation. Next step – fragmented design on election signs. I did it!
Introducing - The Thaw. This monstrous piece is 38.5 inches tall by 21.5 inches wide. There are three levels of panels. The plastic signs have unfinished edges, so I wrap all the edges with artist's tape before I affix the painting to the substrate. I also cut the substrate slightly smaller than the painting, ensuring that you can't see the plastic peeking out from under the painting.
Below are some photos. The final photo is of the back of the artwork. It is wired and ready to hang and given its large size - remarkably light weight. The second to last photo is under direct light, so you can more easily see the layers.
Learn even more about The Thaw here.
Melissa Tai is a lifelong creative, nature lover & tree hugger.