Between Artists: December edition

This was actually supposed to be November edition, but I had a hard time getting to the question which is funny because it kind of has to do with how it can be difficult to get to the studio to work. The question from Jen was: why is the business of making art sometimes so hard?

At first I thought her question was more about the business side of art making and I was like, oh geez, that answer would require multiple posts and I’m afraid that I would come off as whiny and complaining as it’s freaking hard!! ha! Then I realized that she meant the actual making of art which I think includes procrastination, creative blocks, etc.

At the time I was actually going through my own flailing around in the studio and not sure what direction I wanted to go in and I didn’t have any hard deadlines and I was trying to adjust to the crazy schedules of my family after a quiet year and half of pandemic life, plus my tendency to read the the terrible news about climate change and political craziness that leaves me feeling like what’s the point of anything… Yeah, that tendency can really get in the way of being productive in the studio. But when you have to make not only for your sanity, but also to pay bills, then it’s necessary to get over it and get to work.

in my journal, trying to figure things out, 11.3.21

I don’t think I have an answer for Jen’s question. I think for me I definitely need deadlines. I’ve always been that way since I was a kid. It helps me to focus and helps me schedule my time better. But when I don’t have hard deadlines and/or I want to change directions, I do tend to flounder.

What helps me is journaling. Keeping that dialogue open with myself. Reading. Listening to interesting podcasts. watching interesting movies or documentaries. Basically filling my brain up. And being easy with myself. I think one of the things that makes making art hard at times is putting all those expectations on ourselves. In this age of sharing, there is also that pressure of having to share finished work. But work takes time. So maybe taking off that social pressure would help. This whole sharing with the world immediately is a very new phenomenon and probably not the best on our psyches. There are pluses though, no doubt. The comraderie with other creatives can be wonderful.

I actually have been wanting to change directions for a while now, as I wrote about last time. Well is it really changing directions if it’s something I have been doing for several years, but not focusing on? Maybe it’s more like taking a side trail. And I did have reservations about starting. Fear maybe? Fear of not being able to execute what my brain/spirit wants to create? Fear of people who are used to and like my mixed media work to be like, what the heck is she doing? Fear of my galleries being like, what the heck is she doing? Fear of me painting and me being like, what the heck am I doing? I think all of the above held me back a bit longer from starting than I wanted to.

But now that I’ve started, all I want to do is come into my studio and paint. And when I’m not in my studio, I’m thinking about it. So I’m taking that as a positive sign of being on the right side trail. And who knows, maybe this side trail will replenish me when I get back to my mixed media work? It’s an itch I need to scratch right now and it feels good. All that to say, that there’s always hope that once you start working, something sparks. So don’t give up!

While I was painting this afternoon, I listened to this episode of the Laura Horn podcast and it was interesting to hear her talk in a similar vein.

“Vision, Uncertainty, and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue.” ―David Bayles


  1. Dear Bridgette. Thanks for the thought provoking post. I have been wanting to get into sculpting. I can see in my head what I want the end result to look like, but it feels like there is a raging river between me and it that I can’t figure out how to even start crossing and it may sound stupid, but it scary and I am not even sure why I feel this way. I am certainly not able to pay my bills with my art. That disappeared with the beginning of the pandemic. I am not in any galleries. I haven’t even seriously made that push, maybe because I am afraid of becoming trapped in the expectations of others regarding what my work should be. I think that is part of it, but not all of it. It’s like I need some pressure, but not the mental, emotional, exhausting life crushing pressure that has been dominating these last 3 years. I have had enough of that. I feel like I have been crushed to this fine ash like dust and now I need to find a pathway to build back to myself. Not the me I was, that would not only be wrong, but impossible, but something of the essential me, blended with who I want to be. There is some excitement in that, along with curiosity peeking through the fog of exhaustion, but also fear. Artist more that possibly any industry literally pour themselves into their work, a sort of birthing process, and what if it’s a wreck? What if it is a total mess that falls apart? Can I survive that … again? How much failure is too much. What is good enough. I kinda hate that word enough, it’s so vague and subjective. Maybe it’s where I should start.

    1. Sonya, You have been through so much these past few years that is exhausting emotionally, spiritually and physically- which not only makes making art difficult, but putting the work out into the world even more difficult because that also requires a different sort of fortitude. If you are able, I’d start with just making for yourself to get that sculpture that is in your head/spirit out into the physical world.And don’t put any other pressure on yourself. You don’t even need to share it. You are so right in the fact that creatives do pour ourselves into our work and the fear of failure is so personal. It’s hard. But it seems that this sculpture needs you to birth it. When you’re ready, just start. no expectations.

  2. Thanks for this, Bridgette. I’m in my floundering stage at the moment – expecting great things from myself & just looping around & procrastinating like hell. Even with looming deadlines. I’ve been thinking about doing the Artist’s Way again, but I don’t have the time for that! 😉 In fact, I feel like I don’t have enough time for anything, as I get overwhelmed with too many things to do at once. I must remember to breathe, & journal & remind myself that I am not the only one out there that feels like this. Seeing successful artists blog about all their wonderful accomplishments sometimes makes me feel that I am totally inadequate – which of course, is not true. I don’t mean to go on & on, but so many artists have told me that you need to stay positive on your blogs, newsletters & social media – & all that does is freeze me up. And so, the best thing for me to do is take your advice & just let myself go into the studio without expectations. The noodling will lead me where I need to go, I’m sure of that. Thanks for this little therapy session. 🙂

    1. I’m glad I could help a bit! I too have been thinking about doing the Artist’s Way…but then I don’t! Why is it so hard for us to commit to ourselves and our practice? I was getting so tired too of hearing on podcasts about creatives who are raking in 6 figures and I’m like are they trying to inspire us or just make everyone feel like crap? 😀 I found a great podcast from a Baltimore artist who is doing well but she breaks it down to a point where she’s like this is hard and difficult and even when you work like crazy, sometimes things don’t work out. I posted the link recently to my fb page. hang in there! I’m hanging too.

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