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What Keeps You Going?

abstract drawing life as an artist miscellaneous Aug 03, 2020

If you're reading this, you can count yourself extremely fortunate, not because it's my blog you're reading, but because you're reading about creativity with the intention of learning something ... or improving upon something you already do.  You're actively moving forward in your life whether it feels like it or not.  Congratulate yourself for making the choice to keep learning, in spite of age, limitations, level of experience AND in spite of the naysayers who may enter into your circle every now and again.


It's not always easy to get over the humps and bumps along the way.  Diversity in my work helps me to move past the discomfort when a painting isn't going very well or when something disastrous happens, as it did the night before last.  I often grow weary of figuring out work-arounds and solutions.  For me, it's never easy to keep pushing the limits of what I can do, how I see the world, how I express the way I see the world. It's never easy to learn a new technique or to see the ugly paintings and drawings that come from my hand when trying something new.  It's during those uncomfortable times that I look to my strengths to  get me over the bumps in the road.

Do whatever it takes to discover and to acknowledge your strengths.  There's nothing wrong with declaring to yourself that you draw well even though your color is horrific.  There's nothing wrong with acknowledging that you have a natural eye for color but that your drawing skills are marginal at best.  There's nothing wrong with admitting that you don't care at all about subject matter, you just love playing with shapes.  

If the representational drawing of a bicycle you've been laboring over for days is making its way closer and closer to the trash can, STOP!  Put your drawing of the bicycle aside, take out a new piece of paper. If playing with shapes makes you happy, look at the bicycle ONLY paying attention to the shapes you see.  If your strength is color, ONLY pay attention to the color you see ... Treat yourself to the joy of doing what you do well.  And then ... return to what you don't do quite so well and remember that in kindergarten you probably didn't read very well either ... and you probably didn't know how to add or subtract, multiply or divide.  You DID know how to play, to build with blocks, to wrinkle up paper and to make things out of clay.  You did know how to scribble great streaks of color across a page with a chunky crayon ... and you felt good doing it.

What keeps me going?  My curiosity keeps me going.  I want to see what happens when  I make a mark.  How does it alter the drawing or painting?  How do the marks effect the space created?  the movement?  the drama?  the emotion?  My curiosity keeps me drawing and painting.

Painting in progress ... layer two applied after phone broke

When I run out of ideas, I hijack my brain by looking at the painting from different angles and different directions.  I snap dozens of photos arbitrarily to see what I might not be seeing through my own eyes because I've already decided what something looks like.

Discover your strengths.  Don't be shy about it.  You DO have strengths and in order to learn new skills and hone your current skills it's imperative that you recognize your strengths, acknowledge them and rely on them to get you out of trouble and to get you through the murky times of making ugly work.  If you don't make ugly work on a regular basis, I will venture a guess that you aren't taking strides toward unleashing the artist you're capable of becoming.

I believe in your strengths AND your weaknesses.  Your weaknesses are an asset ... they keep you from being bored.  And ... they keep changing.  When a weakness becomes a strength, another weakness is revealed and you are given yet another great opportunity to develop a new strength.

It's not always a drawing or painting that spoils my momentum.  Sometimes it's ruining a brush, breaking a camera, falling off a chair, spilling coffee on my drawing or finding out a dear friend is going through a rough time.

I take a deep breath ... and keep painting.

 When I open my eyes, I discover beauty ... even in mishaps.

Thank you for reading my blog.

I know this was an odd post.

Chris Carter


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