Some years ago I heard the amazing portrait painter, Howard Sanden, talk about his work. He said the most difficult thing for an artist to overcome is inertia…
At the time I thought that was a rather cute way to say “just do it.” But now that I am older, I realize that he was right. It is tough to get started on anything. Especially a painting. Inertia is defined as the tendency of an object to stay at rest or preserve its state of motion. Newton’s first Law of Physics. Such a smart guy. He must have been too tired to get out of bed some winter mornings too. He just had a nice way of phrasing it.
Lately, I have been bouncing around on so many ideas. Oil paintings. A still life. Finishing a commission. Starting a new one. And I have great intentions. “Gonna paint today!” “Gonna get X done!” But boy, it can be hard to get started. So much to distract. Laundry… gonna make some tea…. ooh! forgot to pay this bill… and so actually getting started, really getting started and physically standing in front of the easel and putting thoughts into reality is tough.
This winter weather doesn’t help either. Here in western PA it can stay pretty grey for weeks on end. So inertia sets in. I don’t want to get up and get moving. And recently I bought a new “marshmallow” bed. Great for my back, but very tough to overcome inertia to start my day.
I guess in this blog I don’t have much advice. It is tough for all of us. The only thing that has worked is this little piece of advice I stuck on my mirror that is across from my easel that a good friend recently told me…
And sometimes, when I look at this little phrase I feel ok… just get one little thing done… don’t beat myself up for not doing more, but don’t accept not doing anything either.
Just take a step.
Once I get moving and start actually painting I am ok. Pastel dust flies and I get into a groove… so both Newton and Sanden were right. The initial energy required to start is the toughest part. But once those initial steps are taken, the walk is worth it. Just know you are not alone. And hopefully spring is coming soon.
I don’t believe any human escapes distraction or procrastination. It’s our nature when life becomes overwhelming or some other attractive option comes along. We turn our heads & sometimes indulge.
Life isn’t always about keeping your nose to the grindstone. We need a break sometimes & subliminally we recognize that need &/or choose to take a rest from the push tugging at our sleeves.
As artists we are always sketching, drawing & painting in our minds. We never really stop working. We are reviewing & assessing our work awake or sleeping. It’s our own personal composition & roadmap to our future work.
Sometimes we derail only to find the break makes us more productive. Our mind sometime needs to rest; filter through new & different experiences to reset the creativity button. Walk away from the easel & work out solutions.
I often have felt as you; distracted, off track or wasting valuable time. But as you, growing in age & wisdom, I’ve learned to trust my instinct, allow a distraction or some time off. I have learned discipline is important however stepping away to observe & enjoy, gives ourselves a break & makes us more relaxed & focused in the end.
A former AAA+ Professional
wonderful advice and so well-written!
Thank you. I have been going through the same things. Grey skies (northeast Ohio), cold weather, the flu….ugh. This advice really helps. Just one step.
Spring will be here soon!
You are my inspiration. I grab your paintings from face book and study them and study them.
If you have a workshop in Florida, please let me know. I would love to attend.
I tried to get workshop set up with my pastel group, PSCF, but the board never got back to me. so disappointed.
Thank you, Betty
hi! Central Florida group has reached out and I will be there next Fall. Finishing finding dates…..
Thank you! I suffer from inertia and it’s good to read other artists do, too
you bet! just one step!!
Thank you, Christine!
Knowing that someone as accomplished and busy as you are is fighting the same fight, is a great comfort.
Walking the 20 some steps to my studio is the longest journey I can take, but once I’m though the door……
You have made me feel a little less guilty.
absolutely! it is a long trek to a painting!
Oh So True!….
I am aware of your predicament. I can “think” about it for such a long time, and wham I do actually start, I don’t realize how long I’m at it. Must be an artist curse. Have a good day.
You’ve heard the Saying “location, location, location.” My studio is located between the kitchen and the livingroom. Bad locatiom LOL!
Oh, how I can relate to this!
Thanks for putting it into words, and assuring me that I am not alone in this plight. It’s pretty gray, over here in Ohio, too. 🙂
This post summed up where I have been and it is so comforting to hear I am not alone. Thank you for that and for sharing that great little tip. I pray you can go from that one step to the “zone” because we love the results of your creative juices!
been painting like a fiend the last few days….hooray!!!
Amen and may you be blessed with a lifetime of little steps.
When I move into action the way is revealed.
I’ve escaped inertia temporarily. Today was day two of my three day, Found Objects Egg Tempera Class at Phipps. Wonderful instructor, wonderful class. I took an egg tempera class, probably ten years ago; it was awful. This one under Kelly Leahy Radding is fantastic. I’ve always wanted to learn how Andre Wyeth used egg tempera, and now I think I pretty much know the process.
ooh! I always wanted to learn egg tempera. they having it again? btw- we need to talk about your iconic works. Wanna talk at the guild?