I had arrived at my art show for the day, unpacked my vehicle and found a parking space. My vehicle is a compact Chevy, which you would think easy to slide right into that parallel parking space on the curb in the heart of downtown. But no, I am apparently parallel parking challenged. I line up next to the car in the space ahead, then slowly back up while turning the wheel. Sure enough my little car goes in to the space at the correct angle. It’s just not close enough to the curb and much too far from the car ahead of me. No problem, redo. Up, back, adjust the angle, back, back, okay now forward, okay back, back, then forward, turn wheel a little bit, no too much, now back, angle is off, adjust, okay forward, then back, now tweek, adjust, check the mirror. Oh dang I am right on the curb and way too close to the guy behind me. Re-do. (Jeesh, good thing no one is watching.) Finally after about ten minutes of up, back, angle, up and back I manage to land my little vehicle in the perfect space where it is neither intrusive or obtrusive.
As I am getting out to head over to the show, I hear cheers and applause coming from above. I look up to the third story of the high rise I had just parked in front of, realizing that I had an appreciative audience watching every move! Embarrassed but encouraged by their applause, I did my best curtsy and went my way.
It would be nice sometimes to hear that applause and those cheers coming from above, to keep us encouraged about the work we do that nobody sees. When we’re chugging away at our artwork in the studio and start wondering things like “Who the heck is going to want this?” or “What was I thinking when I painted this?” Or, worse yet, when the excitement for our craft starts to wane and we have a lull or mental block. Or, the worst anti-inspiration offender of all: discouragement comes to pay a visit and doesn’t want to leave.
I remember talking to a friend who is a store manager for a large department store. I mentioned that I have have an art studio in the country. He said sadly “I wish I had an art studio in the country.” At that moment, as at many, many other times, I realized how what I have is but a pipe dream for many people. Because of my friend’s work responsibilities and urban lifestyle, he would in no way have what I have in terms of a space to make art. And yes, I love my country studio, and the work I produce in there. Still, there are times the inspiration, the motivation, the encouragement dries up and blows away like a tumbleweed. Then what do I do?
1. Breathe. Just getting away from your work for a breather can allow you to have a fresh clean perspective when you return. Don’t worry, it will all still be there waiting for you when you’re ready.
2. Organize your space. Nothing zaps inspiration quicker than clutter. Reclaim your space and dedicate it to your art.
3. Learn something new. Research a new material, technique, or process. Or put new colors out on your palette.
4. Remember what used to excite and inspire you as a kid, and do that again. For me it was those pure inviting cakes of watercolor paint in the tins. It was playing in the wooded lot next door to my childhood home. So now I do watercolor paintings of woods!
5. Put it out there. Nothing is more gratifying to me as a professional artist than a customer happily giving me good money for something I made. A juried art show, a gallery show, a studio open house, or whatever it is you do that gets your work out there is the best “applause meter” you can have for that otherwise very private part of your life: your art.