On Dry Spells

Dry spells aren’t something the dabbler worries about.  If you only paint four or five times a year, and are used to going weeks or months in between paint-covered canvases, then not painting is the norm.  And for a long time, that was me.

But now that it’s not, I really am experiencing a dry spell.  I’ve been busy, but I don’t know if that’s a reason in this case, or just an excuse.  It isn’t for a lack of ideas or reference photos.  I have a canvas on my easel, with a rough line drawing, and a photo at hand.  I’m very well-stocked with paint; I think I even have a couple of tubes I haven’t opened yet.  I have a cup of water, bristling with brushes, on top of the chest of drawers where I keep most of my supplies.

It’s been there for a few days and probably has stuff growing in it.  Eww.

Since last fall when I started to get more serious about painting, this is the first time I’ve felt a sense of genuine stuckness, so I don’t feel qualified to offer any advice of my own.  Instead, I’ve gathered a few quotations to share.

Attributed to Maya Angelou:

You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.

From Teresa Amabile:

Creativity depends on a number of things: experience, including knowledge and technical skills; talent; an ability to think in new ways; and the capacity to push through uncreative dry spells.

And from Antonin Artaud, suggesting that the source of a block may not lie where we think it does:

No one has ever written or painted, sculpted, modeled, built, invented, except to get out of hell.

On the other hand, no post of quotations would be complete without one from Claude Monet:

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.

Or how about this one from Edgar Degas?

Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.

I know the more I learn about technique, the more I see that I could have done better.  I certainly don’t consider myself a perfectionist, but that might have something to do with it too.

Do you have any quotes to add?


This novice artist welcomes comments and conversation, but please keep it polite. Inappropriate or offensive comments may be edited or deleted.

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