Rules? There are no Rules...

Many years ago, I was one of those artists that planned stuff. I did sketches. I worked out compositions using thumbnails, just like I was taught to decades ago. I sketched out my large version of what I had decided on in my sketchbook, and then filled in areas one at a time. I followed compositional rules. I used my colour theory. I did it the way I was supposed to.

I know this works for some people, but it really did not work for me. I was always disappointed in my results. And if something wasn't working, even if I knew it wasn't working, I had a hard time abandoning it. Somehow I felt that since I had already sunk in so much time, I had to see it through to the end.

As you can imagine, I eventually earned myself one very large, very long artist's block. I say earned, because it was totally my own fault. I worked my way into it, one bad painting at a time.

For five long years, I did nothing creative whatsoever. I told myself I wasn't inspired, I had nothing to say, I didn't want to, I didn't have time.... the excuses went on and on. Thing was, I did still have moments when I wondered what the hell had happened to me. It was usually during my kid's birthday parties, when I had him and a bunch of his friend in my driveway creating an imaginary world in sidewalk chalk. Or I was showing him how to draw spiderman while we waited to be called at the doctor's office.

I missed that side of myself, so I signed up for a class. I enjoyed the class, but we worked from photos, and while my painting turned out ok, I didn't really feel it. So I signed up for another one. I watched videos and did Zentangles and made some stamps. It wasn't until I flew across the country to take a class with Jesse Reno that my Eureka moment happened. He broke through that block with one short conversation.

Just start. There are no rules. Put the paint on your brush and the brush on the paper. Keep going until you are happy. Don't make it more difficult than it is.

WHAT??? It was like he was giving me permission to ignore everything I had ever been taught and go do whatever I wanted.

I've been working like that ever since, and I haven't had even an inkling of a block. Ive done a series of figurative pieces, and a series of abstract pieces. I've gone back to drawing because I like to draw, instead of as a planning device. Sure, things like composition, design, and colour harmony still matter, but now I work it out as I go instead of sticking to some pre-envisioned plan. I enjoy seeing what happens when I try something new, even if it doesn't work. It's fun again.

I may, at some point, take another class with someone who I think can take what I'm doing now and make it better. I've got my eye on a workshop with Nicholas Wilton that I think would be awesome. But for now I will just carry on with what I'm doing, and try to make the most of what time I have.

After all, I'm not getting any younger.