Friday, August 8, 2014

art jitters and how to cure them

Another newsletter has just been published to the Newsletter Group! Here is this week's article plus a fun goat pic...cause you can never have enough goat pics in your life. :-)

(You can join the Newsletter Group by clicking here.)

Well, it was one of those weeks. You know, something breaks and you are now doing  some wonky make-do until you can get to a store, the vehicle may have something important that needs fixing, the internet is mysteriously not working when we need it, this errand needs to happen now. Sheesh.
Looking forward to next week, it’s going to be great! I choose to be an optimist.J

Today the topic is how to cure yourself of ‘art jitters’, not exactly a medical diagnosis but you’ll see what I mean... (Oh and this week I don’t have artwork to share but I do have a couple of pics at the end of the article, cause we just can’t have text now can we?)

Colinda V. wrote me about a problem she was dealing with. She was frustrated, stuck and suddenly felt unmotivated. The worst part was that this all occurred while she was actively seeking inspiration.
Colinda had made a commitment to spend time each week with her pencils, colouring and getting better at drawing. As part of her plan to seek out inspiration, she was looking at the art of artists on-line. She was viewing artist’s websites, looking at their on-line galleries, reading about their successes, visiting art forums on Facebook and watching YouTube videos.

The more time she spent doing this, she discovered she no longer had much desire to actually make art herself.

After pondering her predicament, Colinda wrote to ask me if I thought it was possible to be over-inspired!?!
Colinda’s story is a common one. I have experienced what she describes myself and I have heard similar reports from my artist friends.

Okay, so first up, let’s admit that the internet is great. We all know how helpful it can be.
BUT, there is a down side to all of that visual consumption. We can get visually over stimulated and overwhelmed. I liken it to drinking too much coffee, you end up feeling jittery and unsettled. We are irritable and whiney and we don’t even know why. We find ourselves shuffling through our sketchbooks, we flip through our photo references liking nothing we see, we get out our paper or canvas but we can’t quite manage to sit still long enough to get a project off the ground.

We now have a case of the too much internet art jitters!
Our brains do get over stimulated with all of the creativity we see going on out there in the world.  There are so many different styles and subjects and such masterful works, all available for viewing immediately, just by making a few clicks.

It gets worse when we consciously or unconsciously compare ourselves and our art to the artists and the art we see. We notice the sheer amount of work they create. Seriously, how do they create so much fabulous art so quickly? Some people are posting new work on art group forums every week!

It starts to seem as if the world is filled with zillions of super talented artists, all busy entering shows or getting featured in a magazine, winning awards, etc. This is when we start becoming irritable and whiney, not to mention unmotivated.
Finally, in the midst of our too much art exposure jitters, we really go off the deep end. Feeling seriously fidgety in our studios, we give up for the day and we give up on our pencils or paint. We toddle off, wallowing in our funk, find ourselves at our computer and we go back on-line! Why not watch one more how-to YouTube video? Argh...

Once we realize the cause, we can easily see the cure. At times like this we need to go cold turkey and turn off our computers. We need to stay off all art sites for a while.
Go back to your sketchbook, your reference photos, your work in progress, spend some time in nature. Do what you need to, to cleanse your mind and to connect with the ideas that come from inside you.

One of my favourite things to do when I need to restore and refresh, is to go gather pretty posies. If you don’t have a field, check out ditches or abandoned city lots.

Queen Anne’s Lace seems to grow everywhere and it is in full bloom right now. (it is from the carrot/parsley family of plants and is the parent of our garden carrot)

Long before we bought a small farm, I would take my car out every week or so, in the summer, and I would stop to cut the ‘weeds’ and interesting tall grasses. I would load the trunk of the car and would then go home and fill jars and vases to place all over the house. The only difference now is that I don’t need to drive my car.
Beauty is truly all around us...but back to the jitters...

I am all for priming the well of inspiration by visiting galleries, looking at art magazines and so on. But somehow the internet is different. I suspect it is the sheer amount of art we can expose ourselves to in a very short period of time. Our intentions are good, as in Colinda’s case but the jitters can happen despite our intentions.
This is the first time in human history that artists have been able to see so much visually creative work from around the world, all without leaving our chairs. It is wonderful...but proceed with caution...don’t let all that visual noise drown out your own unique artistic voice.

If you have ever had the art jitters, do share your thoughts. You can hop on over to my Facebook page or leave a comment on my blog. What is your method of recovery?


In the midst of a week of unpleasant surprises, spending time with the animals or harvesting vegetables from the garden is a great tonic. Works on all sorts of ills, even art jitters!

Here is a picture of our goat Keeah looking silly. Last evening my husband came up to the house laughing, looking for the camera. Keeah had been rubbing his head against some tree branches and some twiggy bits had got stuck between his horns. (you may have seen his twin brother Noah on my FB page a couple of weeks ago) FYI: Keeah had climbed up onto a specially built platform, goats like high places, which is why I am looking up at him.
An hour later, I went down to the barn to put the goats in for the night and I saw four deer in the field, including a gorgeous buck, eating not far from us. The deer were watching the goats with interest and now they were watching me. It was wonderful.

Have a great week, stay off line if you must and go cut ditch weeds.


Beth S Macre said...

Hi Teresa! Well said! I couldn't agree with you more! I love looking at all kinds of art online and see all of these wonderful things happening to other people/artists/fb friends and think what am I doing wrong?
Hope you are doing well!

Katherine Thomas said...

I'm really glad to see you address this topic! I discovered the same effect myself. I have a file on my desktop of the artwork that I most aspire to, as well as some of my own artwork, and I flip through those images to 'cleanse my palette' after I've been art surfing. But you're so right, that we can get too influenced by what others are creating, if we are not mindful of that happening! Love the photos, and Queen Anne's Lace has a special place in my heart, too, from my childhood.

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Beth, I am doing great! I think I know how you are - super busy now that you are 'retired'! :-) You go girl!!!

Thanks for commenting...I haven't met anyone that didn't feel the effects of too much looking around on-line.

Hi Katherine, cleansing your visual palette, intentionally, is such a great thing to do. And yeah for Queen Anne's Lace! :-) I am happy to meet someone else who appreciates her beauty. So many people just dismiss wild plants as weeds. Thanks for stopping by!