• Carolyn Land

Unfocused?

“I felt so insufficiently equipped, so unprepared, so weak, and at the same time it seemed to me that my reflections on art were correct.  I quarreled with all the world and myself”                        Edgar Degas

After my last blog I had several email conversations with people who wrote about needing more than a cheerleader.  Yes, times have been rough and when you are used to being an active part of a working art community with support, many things happen and we lose our focus!  We miss having a cheerleader. Out of boredom we take courses online, watch “YouTube” videos and we get all kinds of new ideas we want to try all at one time. We get confused and cannot focus on any one thing. We start something and don’t finish. We move on to something else. Our passion is simmering but our stress level seems to be at a maximum, and now we have more ideas in our head than we can handle at one time.

Under the right circumstances having all this new knowledge can be a good thing.  It keeps our brain creatively nimble.  Having multiple projects swirling inside and outside our brain gives us added objectivity going from one project to the next. It also helps us make connections between seemingly unrelated things. The more stimulus an artist has, the more surprising and wondrous solutions are likely to happen. However, when our stress levels are high and our support group is sequestered and socially distant, it can overwhelm us.  When stressed, SIMPLIFY!

Another reason we get unfocused is fear. We amplify fears when we are under stress. We fear we will make a mistake. We fear rejection when we get a chance to share what we have done.  We fear it will be a waste of time and materials. We fear not getting it right and making a total mess, and on it goes. Fear drains our passion and enthusiasm, and passion needs enthusiasm and vitality to thrive. When we allow fear and doubt to be our companion, we do nothing.

Mixed Messages                Collage


I love trying new things. If I am going to invest time in trying something new, I always make a point of doing at least 5 or 6 pieces using that technique before I decide if it is going to, or not going to, work with what I enjoy doing. You can always tear it up to use in collage, make a textured surface out of it, or gesso over it.  But you are seldom going to get it right the first time. Everything takes practice. I never used print in my art before I started doing the “Messages Series”.  It was not something that appealed to me.  Now I am on piece 5. So far, I feel it is working for me. It may be something I will expand on.

When I first moved to Florida, I wanted to get involved in the art community.  After joining a few groups, I decide to take a Workshop with a well-known local instructor.  She had a favorite saying, which I always pass on. “Risk a glorious failure”.  You have nothing to lose and knowledge to gain.  With every mistake comes knowledge.

Do not let fear stop you. Do not fill your head with so many new things at once you become overwhelmed.  Remember your artistic journey is supposed to be fun. If you are trying something new, know up front it is going to take time before you get it.

I do advocate working on more than one piece at a time, but using the same materials and techniques. When you leave one piece to work on another piece you come back to it with new eyes and are more objective about what needs to be done. If you are only working on one and don’t give yourself that break, you may not finish it because you become frustrated.

Enjoy your creative journey and stay safe. Carolyn

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