Monday, August 6, 2012

Inspiration is for Amateurs

I am almost done with reading the Chuck Close biography. I have been limiting myself to one chapter a night since I tend to go through books very quickly otherwise (I read 6 books in the two weeks we were in Italy on vacation). It has been an inspiring read with many insights into the artist's process. One thing that stuck out and really resonated with me was a quote in chapter 25.

"Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us go to the studio and just get on with it."

You can't wait for inspiration if you want to make art a career. You just have to go in and create.

Before I decided that I wanted to make art a career (around 2009), I only went in to my studio to paint when I felt "up to" painting. Most of the times I went in at least a couple of times a week. Sometimes I wouldn't go in for weeks. I would tell myself that I just wasn't inspired to paint. I had no motivation. Painting wasn't a priority at the time. I had the occasional show, sold a few pieces, but if I wanted a career in art, this would not do. Painting like this wasn't going to get me anywhere. I needed to be disciplined and have regular "office hours", much like Chuck Close did. 

I started coming in five days a week for at least three hours a day. I wanted to be in the studio at least 15 hours a week, even if it meant just prepping panels. Often times this would lead to painting and the next thing I knew, five hours had passed. Once I started having regular studio hours, it was much easier to get a body of work done. My skills improved. I had a routine. I started to look at painting as if it was my job, with specific hours and time that I needed to put in. I really think it's this discipline that has helped me propel my career. After all, you can't have an art career with having art and you can't have art, especially good quality art, without putting in some serious time in the studio.

The act of putting paint brush to panel/ canvas OFTEN is what will get a career going, NOT waiting for inspiration to hit or for the "right time" to happen. I have often observed the "activity" in the building where I paint. I am in a studio space with about 50 artists around me. Of these 50, I only see three at the studio on a regular basis. THREE OUT OF FIFTY! Granted, this is usually in the afternoon, when most people work, but at night, there are still only a handful of regulars. Many of the artists come in once a week, maybe once a month, some not at all, and yet some of these same artists want to want to show in galleries and sell their work regularly. It's really hard to do that when you are not honing your skills and creating work on a regular basis. 

So what is the lesson here? Sometimes you just need to be a Nike ad and "just do it." Now go paint something!

Here is the latest painting I am working on. It's another head shot on a large panel.
The start of my second "big head" on a 36"x36" panel.

I can tell it's going to be painful to cover these eyes later. I'm sure I'll also get
some "hate" emails/ FB comments about covering the eyes too. They are pretty
nice if I say so myself.  :-)

The shadow on her lips and under her nose look a bit odd without
the rest of the face. It looks like she has a mustache!

Looking less like she has a mustache...

The head takes up most of this panel.

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