A few weeks ago, I showed you this photo from our trip to Maryland and commented that the clouds to the north at this Chesapeake Bay park were a dramatic contrast to the clear sky to the south at the very same moment, shown in another photo on that post. Recently, my creative skies have been on the cloudy side. Not totally bleak, mind you; there had been plenty of beauty in life just as there is in this scene. However, the creative process--my painting in particular--had gone somewhat stale.
During the last couple of weeks, I have not felt like painting, and when I forced myself to the easel, the results were not satisfying. In addition, instead of being relaxing and absorbing, the painting process felt tense and unproductive. I gained renewed admiration and respect for professional painters, writers, and many others who create for a living and do not have the option of taking a break from the process as I did. Their self-discipline is inspiring--and difficult to emulate.
When farmers let fields lie fallow for a season, the soil can renew and the new crop planted afterwards is healthier and produces better. It is definitely too early to tell if my (relatively brief) fallow creative season will lead to anything remotely similar. The good news is that the lull is apparently past for now, and painting is fun again. I am working on several pieces that I will show Linda Blondheim soon via photo images for her illuminating e-critique response. Whatever blocked the creative painting process resulted in unsatisfactory efforts for a time, but now it feels as though I have pushed through those particular difficult areas and am moving forward.
Possible responses to fallow periods include spending time away from the activity, as I did, or trying an oblique approach to the work. I could have shifted to goal-free sketching or tried a series of brushwork or other basic exercises to loosen up and move on. That might have been better, but for some reason seemed too much "like work". I am fortunate and thankful that giving myself a break from painting helped me return with joy. It did require getting behind myself and pushing at first, but the fuzzy feeling has passed and the clouds are parting.
Question of the day: How have you coped with the inevitable enthusiasm gaps in your work or hobby activities?