All artists go through periods of difficulty, where the act of creation becomes more of a chore than a joy, or ideas dry up, or we reach those plateaus where progress seems to cease, or we are pressed with doubt or even fear about our abilities (or lack thereof).
When this happens, the logical thing to do is to look around for some way to change things, shake things up, wake up our muse (or have a fling with another) and get going again. Few of us though, will approach it so thoroughly as to draw up and dedicate ourselves to a systematic plan.
Laura Frankstone is an artist who has been posting her watercolors, drawings and sketches to her blog Laurelines since early 2005 (if not longer).
On January 1 of 2006, she embarked on a year-long plan of “self-apprenticeship” to revitalize her art life. She set aside each month of the year as a particular topic, January: interiors, February, food and dining, March: trees, etc. and devoted herself to doing a drawing a day through that period. (I mentioned that painter Jon Conkey os doing something similar with his Themeworks project in my last post on Painting a Day blogs.)
In addition she is taking classes in digital art, endeavoring to change mediums, even working in mediums she’s not comfortable with and trying to extend her reach in many directions.
She has managed to crown this program with a highlight that would be the envy of many artists, myself included, taking the month of October in Paris and dedicating her time there to travel sketches. The site also inclludes older travel sketches from other parts of Europe and the US.
I enjoy travel sketches to begin with, and particularly ones of Paris. Frankstone’s recent posts are filled with her direct, unfussy pencil and watercolor impressions of scenes around Paris and often in the Luxemborg Gardens.
You can view them in a gallery mode, but if you view them in place in the blog, you get the benefit of her description of the time and place and her approach to the sketch, which gives you even more of a feeling for being there.
It’s worth noting that even in the midst of the wonders of Paris, Frankstone finds worthwhile subjects in seedpods from trees and other simple objects.
One of the other ways to break out of an artistic slump is to ride along with another artist for a while, watching over their shoulder for inspiration, even if it’s just enough inspiration to say, “Yes, I should pick up my sketchbook and draw today”.