ashar

about my art and views on art

procastinate

Entering the Ice Palace…and easier things to do.

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Being asked to write a guest blog for a fellow artist this week has led to some useful and surprising spin-offs.  I have now:

Learned three new French verbs, dug a new herb bed in the garden, finished making a net underskirt, eaten homemade soup everyday for lunch, washed all the dog’s bedding and best of all, found my way back into the studio! 

In the studio

This last achievement took some doing, my studio is A.K.A. the ‘Ice Palace’, it is an airy, light filled handsome room, with it’s high ceiling and marble fireplace; thin, glittering old glass in the long windows, overlooking the valley of the river Vienne, it is also glacial, colder by many degrees than outside and almost impossible to heat or insulate.

painting or writing

painting in the ice palace

I am an artist with vests, thick cardigans, fingerless mits and sheepskin boots, it can be overcome and once you are painting all else is forgotten.  So with a thousand words to write for this blog pushed to the top of my to do list I have headed back into the studio not just to potter about tidying brushes and prepping canvases but to paint, and it has been sheer joy.

The Painter Procrastinates

Why do artists procrastinate so?  It isn’t that I don’t want to paint, an exhibition looms, my first in France (very exciting for me, the Rencontres des Artistes at Montmorillon), I have a deadline to meet, it is just so damned hard getting started if you stop for a moment.  There are so many interesting distractions available, so many doubts to confront; will what is painted be good enough?  Will anyone like it?

procastinate and the pumpkin

Lorraine and the pumpkin in the ice palace

Perhaps it is the curse of anyone who works creatively, where does research end and procrastination begin.  Writing about procrastination led to some time on- line that uncovered a superb animated film that was the graduation piece of Royal College of Art student Johnny Kelly in 2007 and from sixty years earlier a lovely quotation from Robert Benchley:

 “…anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment”.

This gave me the idea to combat the problem of struggling to get to work in the studio by putting the writing ahead of the painting on the ‘to do’ list.  It worked a treat.  Procrastination isn’t laziness, more the skewing of priorities and time management.  Once I had another deadline to meet I was quite happy to work on the less urgent one.

 Swimming in the paint

Within a few hours, the paint has performed it’s magic, the more you do, the more you want to do, the better it gets.  A little like swimming in cold water, once you get going it is fine.  The only way to learn to make Art is to keep making art, and that is the purpose of making it.  It is hardly a surprise that we all struggle at times, after all stepping into the Studio is always going into uncharted territory, you never really know how things will turn out, or how they will be received or even if they will get finished at all, one has to just enjoy the ride, focused only on the work itself, and learn to live with uncertainty.  Almost the only thing one can really control is the materials you choose and I suppose this is why they sometimes become such a fixation, nearly every artist I know has way more ‘kit’ than they will ever use (me included).

procastinate

section from an unfinshed piece

The Pumpkin cure from representation to abstraction

Artists have used many different devices for getting going with their work.  Sometimes I fill up sketch books with experiments and scribbles, many inspired by the views from the studio, the old stones and the water courses that cascade under the village, often it might be the vegetable gardens below the window and the produce from those gardens.  When I got really stuck (and desperate for the solace of making art) I filled dozens of pages with portraits of a beautiful big pumpkin I had been given by a friend.  Though my work is balanced across a fault line between abstraction and representation.

procastinat and pumpkin sketch

pumpkin sketch

These things are jumping off points for my thoughts and may be unrecognisable when they become my imaginary landscapes, but studying the form, colours and textures, somehow they are absorbed into the paintings.  The paintings will usually have an element of chance that I will set up to happen but not control, I need serendipity to be part of my work from an early stage, and this is how I begin.

Every time I stop painting for a few days, and I try never to let it be longer than that, mindful of the advice given to me by my tutor when I was in my first year at college to never stop it is so difficult to get started again (thank you Chris) I always feel better for getting back to work.  I just need to keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, the journey is the thing, never mind the destination, it will take care of itself.

If you don’t have to paint…

The sculptor Stephen De Staebler suggested:

“Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working”.

I would suggest that if you don’t feel the pain of not working then it is probably better to just find something easier to do,  ‘Make your own bias binding’  anyone?

 I hope you enjoyed reading Lorraine’s blog, if you did can you leave your comments please – ashar

 to visit Lorraine’s web site and see her wonderful work  …click here…

4 Comments

  1. Very informative Lorraine and oh so true, procrastinating earlier in the year, having moved yet again, made me so very low; the pain of not working is soul destroying. I seem to turn in to a despondent being if I do not produce something, in actual fact i would rather paint and leave the world to it’s own devices. Lost in a creative bubble is surely heaven for every artist; but when the juices stop it is sheer hell and frustration abounds!
    I find I dream of avenues for work when I am ‘blocked’ I mull things over and put other things in the way of creation; then when it is too unbearable I begin with something, then it spurts and I have prolific creativity as if it has been boiling up awaiting release; I just have to ‘do’ above all else. Some works will be put aside and returned to later. The joy of creation is both a pleasure and a privilege; how lucky we are to have such special calling.

    • Susan, you have gifted me with the strength of your words.
      Soul destroying and despondent, indeed.
      I journey in the bubble as much as I can and am gradually leaving “the world to it’s own devices”.
      Thank you, as well.
      Ann

  2. Thank you for this guest blog, Ashar.
    I have struggled with walking into studio fear for as long as remember.
    That has been about 40 years, since college.
    Dear, dear Lorraine, you have become a big part of my morning ritual.
    How thrilled I am to have found this website and blog and the remarkable work therein.
    Best ~ Ann

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