Motivational crises & trying new things

Pastel portrait by Helen Davison

Trying new things. ‘James (detail)’, pastel on paper, life size.

As hopefully explained by my last post about losing Meg, I have found my general level of motivation of late to be absolutely on the floor. I’ve been tired for months and while not exactly disinterested in creating art, I have certainly not been filled with energy and inspiration. Regardless, I have been continuously working on a few things – in particular a larger scale portrait that is going well but not quite finished, as well as a fairly standard figure study.

I do have some ideas of things I’d like to try out, to please myself and experiment a little. For example, gouache would be a new medium that I hope might get me out landscape painting more regularly as it would require a more lightweight kit. The same goes for pastel painting, as well as small scale sketching in general, in the hope of generating some ammunition for future projects.

At times like this, when the direction of work feels elusive and doubts creep in, I also find that practical studio jobs are great to keep busy and do something useful. I recently found a decent secondhand plan-chest and have sorted and stored all of my work and flat materials, clearing out the studio ready for a fresh start. I will soon make a new batch of gesso panels too, and at least be in a position to get going in earnest when this motivational blip passes.

It’s a shame to have hit this little bump in the road right now. I’ve had a good couple of years building my artistic CV, and was thrilled to win a couple of awards recently too. I wanted to capitalise on these successes more effectively this year by developing a cohesive body of work and being more proactive in finding representation. I would like to update my website and build in a shop for smaller works too. More than anything though, I think I just need a change of scene, a little holiday, some sleep and a bit of time to regroup.

Finally, a few words about the pastel portrait of James, my husband (above). This was my first serious attempt at using this medium and it was a whole lot more challenging than expected. It was great to get stuck in and see what I could do, but the whole experience of trying to mix colours through blending on the paper, and create shapes and details with something that feels clumsy and awkward, was at times beyond frustrating. I’m glad to have persevered however, and I ended up with something that I’m pleased with. I’m encouraged to keep trying new things.