Did You Lose Something?


Under painting by Kevin Cameron (Second Cup)

You’ve started your painting and things are going “in the flow”.  You’re just at the initial stages- maybe the under-painting. Perhaps you’re focusing on value and composition or maybe it’s colour and/or sort of abstract.

Everything seems to be going great. Sometimes, however, there is  that period of staring at a blank canvas that feels longer than a Hobbit’s journey. But let’s assume you’re past that and you are fully in the moment and the painting (both noun and verb) is coming along nicely.

Then you have to stop.  For whatever reason. Maybe it’s to get a snack, maybe just some sleep. You return and something’s gone. It’s not your easel, brush or laptop . It’s that other important intangible thing-inspiration. Uh Oh! The muse has left!

It was like meeting someone for the first time serendipitously at a nearby cafe. The conversation has a promising glow. You turn to get your coffee and they are gone. You hardly had time to memorize their smile.

The Inspired Painting that Isn’t

At this point …you have before you… an expression of your passion but part of your mind is saying, “This isn’t complete. I can’t hang this. I can’t sell this and probably couldn’t give it away.  This is when our motives become challenged.  Do you push ahead and lay down coats of paint that seem to be only burying the life you had underneath?

This is a tough question. How do you resolve it? ( I’m not being rhetorical).  How do you resolve it?

Perhaps we could look at our options and motives. What do you want to capture this time?  Stay where you are and you’ve captured some primitive, emotive expression. Continue and it changes like a baby to a child and like a child to an adult.

I guess every stage is good. After all , who’s to say, if you proceed the creative work might actually get better. It’s all a matter of opinion since art is about emotion and communicating it to others. You can put down that canvas ( or musical composition, poetry ,whatever) and stop where you are.  Sometimes this is what must happen.  Other times you will paint right over it and something new is born once again!

You turn for your coffee.  A new friend is there and this time…they stay. :^)



7 comments on “Did You Lose Something?

  1. I used to fear and even dread that feeling…the hardest part is that first stroke on my blank canvas…but once you’ve got it flowing…it’s like magic…time ceases to exit…I even cease to exit for a brief moment…I’m breathless, caught in the art itself…and then you break away for whatever reason and the fear and dread are there waiting again…even taunting you, until you once again put some more paint down…and you meet with that timelessness once more…I guess the answer is never stop creating… 🙂

  2. nice post, Kevin. You describe well the sinking feeing of hiding the initial hit of magic under layers of increasingly dulling paint.
    Some artists work in layers and manage to keep their work fresh. Probably they are masters of craft and have got to that point where the technique comes naturally.
    We are more likely to lose the fresh start when we are still searching as far as technique goes.

    I often go wrong when I start out with an emotion, and get increasingly cerebral. My most recent post on artcalling talks about Flora Bowley’s way of painting, very intuitive, messy, spontaneous, yet also interesting. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of cognitive stuff going on there, and I quite like the wild, decorative effects!
    I like the underpainting at the top of the page.

    Nicholas WIiton’s most recent post talked about starting bold, had some great points that add to your discussion here.

  3. Hi Sarah…thanks for the input! I somehow missed your recent post on Art Calling (https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/770315/4978) and will read it. I’ll check out Wilton’s too. I felt this post had to be a bit ‘open ended’ , if that’s the word, due to the nature of the question. The question being something like, “If I stop, will I lose my inspiration?” The answer might be personal and dependent on so many factors and definitions. It’s definitely a good discussion that’s for sure. I’m interested to see what Nicholas says.

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