One summer show done and now I’m back at the easel working on 2 larger pieces that I had left in progress. However I’m struggling with my motivation to work on them because they are in that “awkward teenage” stage.
Anyone who’s ever created or built anything knows this stage, right? The creation is more than started, but maybe not quite halfway done. It still hasn’t formed its identity. The beginnings of some colour are there, but the depths or values are yet to come. It looks a little wonky, fragile, unbalanced, and a bit pimply.
Unlike some folks, I get excited by the blank page or an inked piece waiting for paint. I jump right in. But at the awkward teenage stage, I tend to lose interest. I procrastinate picking it back up. And when I do work on it, I’m deadly slow so the piece never seems to get past its adolescence. Once I get past this stage, I can cruise to the end easily, but I need tactics to grind through this.
I’ve come up with a few ways to combat this malady, but I don’t think they are working too well. The first one is that I go to work on something else so that when I come back to the teenaged piece, I have fresh eyes. This has resulted in me having upwards of 6 teenage pieces hanging around the studio at one time! So while “fresh eyes” seems like a good strategy, it rarely wins my battle over boredom.
I’ve worked out of order and chosen a section of the painting I’ve been looking forward to painting. This usually means working on details! With some detail done, I can see the glimmer of what the whole piece will look like and I will sometimes plough on. Emphasis on the sometimes.
I will take these pieces to classes in the hopes that I will get some insights from teachers that will inspire me to push on. And this has happened, but it also has meant that I work on it only during class, once a week.
And a final strategy I’ve used a fair bit is the accountability buddy – who happens to be the Internet now. I’ll post the work-in-progress (like I’m doing now 😉 ), often without a deadline declaration, but I’ll create a little story in my head that if I don’t finish it up people will be wondering what ever happened to it! Ha ha! Sometimes this works well, especially when I’m feeling particularly vulnerable.
What does help is a hard deadline, but not one set by me – having to complete something for a show or for a commission or for posting to my Etsy schedule. My own deadlines are like asking the teenager to be in the house by 10 pm. Fat chance!
Bottom line is that there isn’t one technique that gets me past the awkward teenage stage in my work. I need a whole host of them!
Okay, creators out there, I’d love to hear from you:
What helps you get through that awkward teenage stage in your work?