Artistic endeavors – Looking for motivation

After updating the entry about creative artists, my mind started gearing up a certain level of creativity of my own.  I’ve had several projects bouncing around in my brain for quite some time, but severely lack the motivation to actually finish one.  Okay, let’s not kid ourselves here, I have been struggling to even get started!  Some of the ideas I’ve been harboring for the better part of 5 years…yet I just can’t make myself get to work.

Don’t worry though, I have plenty of excuses.  When I applied to Ball State University, I did so fully intending to apply for their art education program.  My first problem with that scenario is that I was unsure what age range I would feel comfortable teaching.  I don’t have the most patience for small children.  Middle age kids are pretty mouthy and troublesome in their own right, and I wasn’t fully confident that I could handle “teaching” teenaged high-schoolers who may have more ability than me.  My biggest issue though, was my failure to submit a portfolio to the art college in order to even be accepted into their program in the first place.  See?  That whole motivation thing has been an issue for a while now.

From there, I ultimately earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice/Criminology.  That part is completely irrelevant to the story.  What you could naturally infer from that, however, is that I inevitably stopped doing any artwork what-so-ever.  Since I’m a bit of an overachiever, I crammed 4 years of college into 7, meaning that I am completely out of practice when it comes to being artistic.  Not to mention that I graduated a few years ago on top of that.  Suffice to say, I no longer know my way around a sketch pad, canvas, paintbrush, potter’s wheel, or any other artistic medium.  Recently though, I have purchased a sketchbook, colored pencils, acrylic and oil paints, brushes, canvasses, and other random utensils and tools.  I have even completed some VERY basic/simple paintings.  So back off…I’m trying!

The last excuse that comes to mind that I really don’t want to admit, is simply a fear of failure.  In my mind, the projects all sound very righteous and could turn out really cool.  But what if they don’t?  What if I put in the time and effort, but don’t have the skill to execute?  What if I end up just completely wasting the resources?  Would it have been better if I just saved myself the trouble and not started?

I’ve decided to write this post hoping that maybe it will possibly serve as motivation.  I’ve shared my ideas with a couple of people, but maybe by posting them on here and having people inquire about my progress, it will drive me to actually get something done.  Here’s to hoping…

The first project I had in mind, and the one that actually got me to drive to Hobby Lobby for some supplies are just a couple of sketches.  I figured that maybe some simple colored pencil renderings would help get me back in the swing of things as far as getting my stroke back.  I started a drawing prior to March Madness last year (2010) based on inspiration from the tournament.  On the left side of the paper I started out with a bracket that I filled in with random teams arbitrarily.  (Although you can bet that they are all teams I like…or at least don’t disdain.)  The right side of the paper is laid out in a generic calendar template of the month of March.  Stay with the theme here, it’s not complicated.  The two sides fade into each other with the March Madness logo in full color in the center of the page.  From there, I thought I could continue the sports theme, but move on to football.  This idea involved my favorite college football team (Ball State Cardinals) and professional team (Indianapolis Colts).  (These would be 2 separate drawings.)  The thought was to place the team logo in the lower right corner in full color with a lighter shaded helmet in the background creating a ghost-like effect with a sunburst team color pattern in the background.

The project that has been in my head the longest might be the most involved.  This one would require a lot of supplies.  The first step would be to take a sheet of paper and light it on fire, but just around the edges to give the sheet a charred/burned look to it.  (I might even use coffee to stain the paper in order to make it look a little dirtier as well.)  I would fix the blank paper to a sheet of plexiglass.  I would use spacers to separate a second sheet of plexiglass where I would write out a musical staff.  With more spacers and another sheet of plexiglass, I would then write the title and musical notes for “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix.  The spacers between the plexiglass would give the whole project somewhat of a low-relief effect, and if viewed at a slight angle, it would appear as if the different layers were floating.  Pretty badass, I know.

Another idea I’ve had for quite a while now is intended to be a gift for my wife.  (Shh, don’t tell her.)  I asked her to pick out a couple of her favorite photos from her trips around the western hemisphere thinking I could possibly paint a version for her.  She provided several shots for me to choose from, and of course I picked out the easiest looking one!  After giving it more thought though, I decided that instead of just painting a copy of her photograph, I would incorporate her picture into the painting.  I affixed her photo of a Nicaraguan beach to the center of a canvas, then proceeded to expand the picture by drawing (what I imagined to be) the rest of the scene.  That much I have completed, but the bad news is that’s where my motivation ran dry.  The canvas has been sitting in our spare room for months without being touched.  Eventually, the idea is to paint the rest of the scene that the photograph doesn’t include, brushing her picture from a digital landscape into a painted portrait.

One of the coolest, most original gifts that my wife and I received from our wedding came from my best friend and his fiance.  When we returned from our honeymoon, we hurriedly unwrapped a giant plastic tote that was filled to the brim with art supplies.  Wooden frames, unstretched canvas, brushes, color swatches, and a gift card for Lowe’s in order to purchase some paint.  How awesome is that??  The plan with this for the last 6 months has been for my wife and I to create a painting together.  However, with both of our artistic skills being very limited, it’s not like we can just whip up a Leonardo da Vinci imitation masterpiece.  What we have decided to do though, is wait for a nice, warm, sunny day, put a canvas together, set it outside on the ground, and make our own splatter painting.  This one doesn’t even require an enormous amount of motivation so much as a cooperative forecast!

Something that I’ve been thinking about for maybe a year or so is a relatively small project for my man-cave (a.k.a. garage).  This one will also require some assistance from a lovely family member or friend that is yet to be named.  I would like to take a wooden frame, stretch a piece of leather around it instead of canvas, fasten half of a sheet of leather to just the top half, then add metal studs, silver conches, and leather fringe, ultimately creating the appearance of a saddlebag straight off of a motorcycle.  Nothing fancy, but I think it would be a cool piece for the garage.  The biggest problem…I have no idea how to sew.  So basically this may be my idea, but it will turn out being somebody else’s hard work.  I’ll still try my best to take credit for it though!  WINK!

The latest project that has come to mind reverts back to drawing.  This one might be the most intimidating to me, because my drawing skills have always been lacking, and I intend for it to be another gift.  Having said that, out of necessity, I’ve always wanted a light box to assist in my times of need.  Luckily I’ve got a great wife who believes in helping me cheat!  For Christmas (or maybe it was my birthday…close enough) I was surprised with the light box I had been longing for.  With that, I printed a photograph, grabbed a blank sheet of paper, and put my tracing skills to the test.  I whipped out a fairly detailed outline in no time.  And that’s when my motivation took a nose-dive.  The sketch is about 80% finished as it sits, but I just can’t force myself to fill in the finishing details.

There is only one hard deadline for these projects, and luckily it’s the one that is the most completed.  The last sketch is meant to be a Christmas gift, so I have to make sure it’s done in time to matte and frame by December.  The other gift involving a photograph would be nice to get finished so I can present it to my wife.  The splatter painting will ideally be completed by mid-summer.  The sports-themed sketches will get done when I get bored enough to get back to them.  The saddlebag would be nice to have done by the end of the riding season (which is sometime around October-November depending on the weather.)  The “Fire” idea kind of scares me because I just don’t know how to fully pull off the effects I’m looking for, let alone how it’ll turn out.

Here’s where I will look to you for some accountability.  Vote on the poll below for which project sounds most interesting or that you would most like to see completed, then keep on me about it so I don’t get lazy and never get around to it.

Thank you, that is all.

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3 responses to “Artistic endeavors – Looking for motivation

  • pathaseltonart

    Article made me laugh, as I know the feeling of not having any motivation too well!…can drive you somewhat crazy. Now I tell people who ask “have you done any painting recently?” that “oh, it’s just a Winter hobby that I have”…if only they knew the truth! Anyway, I think first you should have some fun with the Splatter painting, and I personally love that famous spatterer painter (can’t remember his name just now, but you’ll know.) Then, you should do the burning paper one, only because doing something like that would make me laugh….bit of the arsonist coming out in me?! I did something kind of wild a few years ago by using a plain white sheet of watercolor paper, used any material I could find that is absorbent, paper towel, lace, cut out stencils etc., and then just poured different colored paint over liberally, no brush involved, squashed it down, then pulled it all away after 10mins. It looked like Red Square, my husband loved it, and had it framed for his office. So, I tell everyone who struggles with motivation to “just do it!”…wish I could take my own advice 😦

    • ckelley06

      Thanks for the feedback, Pat! I believe Jackson Pollock is the splatter painter you were thinking of…that’s who I think of anyway! You’ve got some really nice work on your site…keep it up, and “just do it!”

  • Dwain Claybourn

    Would you be all in favour of exchanging links?

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