The Creative Block

After talking to many artists over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that all of us; painters, sculptors, writers , etc. face a blank wall every once in a while when nothing happens. Each person handles that in their own way and most of us find that there is more work to be done on the other side once we find the door.

I tend to work in bodies of work. In the beginning I do a lot of playing around with sketches, most of which get thrown away, but eventually something catches my attention and the first painting or sculpture in the series gets started. From then on it’s a nice ride because one piece leads naturally into the next without me paying much attention to the process . As the work develops it is constantly changing as it basically remains the same until one day I don’t know what the next piece is going to be. I may make a couple of false starts but they usually get junked. The next piece just isn’t there and the series is over.

I experience the normal let down that comes at the conclusion of any journey but there would be the feeling that the creative juices had dried up. In the days after a completed series I would often sit at the drawing board looking at a blank piece of paper and nothing would happen. I’ve talked to other artists about this and it seems to be an experience that most of us have gone through.

My big change happened when I lived in Vermont.

View from the kitchen window  when i lived in Vermont.

View from the kitchen window, Chester, Vermont.

On those down days I would take my dog and walk in the woods. In the winter we would go cross country skiing. Some times it would take a few days, sometimes a lot longer but  eventually I would come to see things I had not seen before. I would begin to relax and just feel the peace of the place, I would stop thinking about work.

High meadow looking back at the house.

View from the high meadow lookng back at the house. I have a story about this sculpture coming up.

One day I would begin to sketch without ever realizing when or why the change took place and before long a new body of work would be born. Over time I began to know that down time at the end of a long period of work is normal. I call it the gestation period. It gives my system time to empty and make room for something new. It no longer bothers me. In fact. it’s a rather good time.

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  1. Vermont. I so remember the first time I drove up your long drive to work at your studio on some Orvis product. The back seat was full and we a lot to shoot. But half way up the drive I had to stop my car. And get out. Arms along the fence, I stood there to catch my breath. Your beautiful massive pieces placed in the field like livestock. They had a life all their own.

    • Yep. Your comment brought back a lot of pleasant memories. If one could have a love affair with a piece of land, i had a love affair with that piece of land. I think of it often, Those were good times.

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