Art After Fifty - Part Three

Martha | © Beth Cole | Oil on Wood | 12 x 12 | SOLD

Martha | © Beth Cole | Oil on Wood | 12 x 12 | SOLD

This is the third post in a series, Art After Fifty. You can read the first and second posts here.

Dealing With Frustrations

Shortly after I began painting, my niece gave me a book -- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book encourages journaling in what are called “daily pages.” Being the rule follower that I am, I promptly bought some moleskin notebooks and set pen to page.

I found my daily pages journals the other day and saw firsthand how much I was struggling. My biggest question was “what shall I paint?” ….. the question that never goes away. I still have this question and some of those struggles , but painting has gotten easier or maybe I’m just easier on myself. I don’t know for sure.

I remember my husband reading a quote to me in those early days. I can’t find it now, but it said something about making really bad art, and that you will need to make quite a bit of bad art before you are able to paint anything worth keeping. He told me that is true of me and, man, I had to get a stiff upper lip to receive that. The quote is true but it still hurt my feelings knowing that most of what I was creating was bad. And it was. But still.

So it’s frustrating, eh?

I don’t have all the answers, but here are some ways I have worked through frustrations.

  • Keep picking up the paintbrush. I sound like a broken record, but nothing beats practice when it comes to improvement.
  • Join an art group. My art club has been a great outlet and encouragement to me. There’s something about gathering with like minded persons to put wind in your sails.
  • Take as many classes as time and budget will allow. Classes are so accessible these days, there is always something to learn from someone else. Find an area you want to improve and look specifically for a class on that topic. It can really help.
  • Read. I like to look for book recommendations from artists I admire knowing there is an art lineage to be followed. I like to read older books by master artists because the principles are tried and true and apply, no matter how long ago the book was written, i.e. Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting.
  • Find a friend or mentor who can give an honest critique. This past year I have been working with a wonderful art mentor and it has been a really good decision. Not only does she keep me accountable, but she is a voice of reason helping me to problem-solve and get unstuck in my painting.
  • Be that friend/mentor to someone else. Be willing to help others as they come to you, giving as you have received.
  • Listen to artist interviews. I have a four hour drive each way to visit my littles so I have lots of time in the car. I have lately been listening to podcasts, one of my favorites is The Savvy Painter. Hearing the questions and stories helps me feel I’m not alone in my painting world. And you aren’t either!
  • Pray. I can’t help but know my Creator has my good and His glory in mind when I step up to the canvas. Praying helps me let go of fears and unrealistic expectations and keeps everything in perspective.

For all I know, I’m still in the early years of painting, and still making bad art but I have to believe that it is connecting in some way because many people have taken it home to live with them. That waterfall of grace always gives me a lift.

So what about you? How do you cope with frustration? I’m all ears.

Soli Deo Gloria