Saturday, February 13, 2010

Turning points

What a time for me to start questioning my creative path with a solo show looming in late May. It never fails! Solo shows seem to be a nudge to contemplate, to self- examine the worth of my work, to question why and how. Am I the only one who has created an elevated standard that I strive for? Unfortunately this standard doesn't have specific criteria, it's kind of amorphous, and, of course then you never know if you have reached it.

Yes, I'm in painting limbo, I'm floundering, I'm wallowing in an abyss. I doubt what I have created, I think I should create differently and question why I ever thought I wanted to do this thing called "art". Anyone who knows me well, will advise that I always come out the other end of this questioning period a stronger artist. The process will prompt new firsts- leaps in technique and understanding. I am trying to have faith as I'm questioning.

These works appear to be important to my future direction. I'm beginning to glimmers of why.

A Bridge to Cross
Encaustic mixed media

It is Written
Encaustic mixed media
8 x 14 in.

Mixed media
10 x 24


Kathy said...

Margaret - I'm standing in your shoes! I have a solo show in June and completed all 34 paintings in oil for it a month ago so that they'd have time to dry before varnishing at the last moment. Now that I'm moving onto another series, which is better, I'm looking at what I've prepared for the exhibit with not so much pride. This process is not for the faint-hearted, that's for certain! Everytime I feel self-doubt, I force myself to think back on how each series became successful and MUST rely on this one to do the same as I move forward. Doubt breeds fear, and fear harms creativity. Keep going. From what I've seen of you work there's no doubt that your paintings contribute to the ongoing dialogue of art. Don't worry.

hwfarber said...

Margaret, if you reached that elevated standard, you'd probably have no reason to keep painting. Luckily, your standard keeps changing.

You and Kathy have an audience for your current work--and you'll have an audience for the new.

Dance in those shoes; you have openings to attend.

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Dear Margaret,

I fully too understand your situation, even though I do not have a show coming up.

The fact that you, Katharine or I question our current work makes us feel in limbo but the fact that we question what we have created is as Martha would say 'A good thing'.

If we did not question the process of our work, how could we improve? As I look at your encaustic works, I see that you are so very far ahead of me. I would love to engage in encaustic but for the time being I am still refining and developing further my distress technique, which by the way I will be posting next as I just finished a painting. A painting that already has me contemplating alternative processes for the next one.

Yet as we wish to embark upon our new discovery and abandon what we are currently working on, I know you will finish the project before heading off on your new journey.

Wishing you all the very best,

Jeanette said...

You would not be the artist you are if it weren't for self doubts and times of loss.

I believe its our mind's way of making us step back and evaluate, then move on to bigger and better.

While solo shows sound so enticing, I think i would be terrified. See? there's the doubt in me creeping in.

Sherwood Harrington said...

I almost feel like I don't belong in this discussion, since I'm not an artist. Circumspection has never been one of my stronger traits, though, so here goes:

Looking back over my careers as a writer, editor, and teacher, I think that the times of my greatest growth -- or at least my impression of self-improvement -- have also been the times of greatest self-doubt. While others' criticisms have been very, very valuable, there's usually nothing quite like one's own critical inspection to trigger change and growth.

Besides, people who are smugly self-assured are insufferable.

Doubt away, Margaret, and I look forward to what your doubt produces.

-Don said...

Margaret, I don't have much to add here that others have not already stated quite well. So, I'll just say that when I was a child and went thru growth spurts it hurt.


ArtPropelled said...

Once the glow of having been invited to have a solo exhibition wears off I flounder and go into a long phase of self doubt. So much so that I now refuse to do solo exhibitions. The stress is not worth it for me. Thank goodness there are artists who don't give in so easily otherwise we would lose out on many wonderful exhibitions.
I love your encaustics, Margaret.

beauty comma said...

i know exactly what you're saying. i'm having two concerts with my piano students this week... ok, i'm not the one who's playing, but it's still my work on display. and i can see that i listen differently before these concerts.
self-doubt is part of working with art - and i think it's necessary to improve, although the process is deeply uncomfortable. you wouldn't be where you are today without these thoughts.
big hugs!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Margaret. Real art from a real artist. That's what art is to me. Your work is beautiful.

Kim Hambric said...

Yes, you will become a stronger artist. No matter what you do in the future, though, doubt will always be there. It is part of being an artist.

I do agree wholeheartedly with Sherwood Harrington: people who are smugly self-assured are insufferable. So true. Would you rather be doubtful or insufferable.

I am looking forward to seeing the creations of the stronger artist that will be (is) emerging.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

The last step in the creative process is putting it out in the world...not always so easy!
The three photos of your latest work show transformational qualities in materials and imagery...a lot of 'life' in this work!

Margaret Ryall said...

Hi all,
It is so comforting to know I am not out in the beyond all by myself. Your words of encouragement and confirmation of similar stages are helpful. I do not feel in such a state of angst today. My mind is moving along nicely as I search for the new ideas I have to blend with those that are already tumbling around in my mind.

Margaret Ryall said...


I would pick doubtful every time!

layers said...

an upcoming show always causes angst, doubt,fear,and then digging down to work and eventually -- completed paintings

Tina Steele Lindsey said...

These are so incredible and I bet in person mopre astounding!

Shayla said...

The works seem to reflect your questioning. Thank you for expressing your doubts. I'm in a state of confusion right now, thinking I may just have to accept "not knowing" for good, when I read all the perspectives here. Doubt and growth are connected- now that's encouraging. Thanks again for sharing, Margaret.