The Struggling Artist

Hi everyone.  Seems like forever since I’ve done a blog post.  Maybe I should start writing about doctor visits.  That would give me more than enough to talk about (grin).

In the movies, a struggling artist is one who is destitute, often a drunk, or worse.  In the fine arts world the poverty remains but these struggling artists all remain pure to their art, not compromising anything for commercial success.  In the sketching world, more often than not a struggling artist is one who has a hard time remaining motivated.  I’ve never understood why that is.  Anyways, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m not a struggling artist of a different sort, one beaten down by health issues.

I was supposed to go sketching on Tuesday morning.  I was excited because we were going to sketch in the Christmas store in old Quebec City.  This building used to be a multi-floor bookstore in the 40s and 50s, a gathering place for those who cherished the written word.  Sometime along the way, however, it became a year-round Christmas store that is filled to the brim with decorations.  With Christmas behind us, or well ahead of us depending upon your view, we were granted access to sketch within its walls on Tuesday.

On Sunday I decided to do a quick sketch of its exterior from a photo I had of the place.  I didn’t spend a lot of time on it and kept the sketch both simple and without a lot of contrast because I envisioned it receding into the background of a two-page spread of brightly colored ornament sketches.  Unfortunately, when Tuesday rolled around I was having what is now referred to at our house as a “bad” day and my knee limited my mobility and my left hand and wrist were nearly locked up and quite painful.  I couldn’t go.  I was a struggling artist.  I share with you the sad result.

Stillman & Birn Nova (5.5×8.5)

On the upside, I’m enjoying Liz Steel’s Watercolour Course which has just started.  Thus far I’m covering paper with blotches of color, spending time trying to create more texture in my washes, and even doing some small, horrible sketches using paint only.  I really do love Liz’s courses.  Her Foundations course is the course I wish existed when I started trying to sketch and this new watercolor course is causing me to investigate watercolors in a new light, and I definitely need some new light when it comes to watercolors.

6 thoughts on “The Struggling Artist

  1. I’m sorry to hear you’re still suffering, Larry, but it’s good to hear you mention Liz’s online class. I hope you’ll continue to talk about that and share what you learn.

    – Tina

    • I’m reluctant to talk about courses I’m taking for a couple reasons. First, I respect the IP of the instructor. More importantly, however, is that I’ve learned that if I start posting homework assignments and/or blow-by-blow descriptions, my learning suffers because the course takes on a flavor of a performance art that detracts from my ability to experiment with the concepts being presented. But the course is certainly insightful and enjoyable.

  2. Hello Larry, Sorry to read that you are in a ‘struggling’ phase. 🙁 On the other hand, you are surely quite busy with the exercises in Liz’ watercolor course. I am following it and just loving it! She is quite a teacher and very dedicated. I will probably take another one of her courses when this one is over. Hope you get well in a near future. Diane

    • Hee hee. One should not have competing hobbies. Ever since I started the hobby of visiting as many doctors as I can, my drawing has suffered. I’ll get it back on track eventually. And yes, Liz’s watercolor course is fantastic, though I’m way “behind.” There’s so much stuff in each of your comments that I find myself heading off in a lot of directions, trying this and that to understand what she’s saying. I’ve loved all of Liz’s courses because she 1) packs a lot into each course and 2) is able to break down concepts into their elements so you can pursue all of them if you choose to do so. —Larry

  3. I very much identify with being a struggling sketcher of the health issue fatigue these past two weeks, though not for such a debilitating reason as yours. This recent virus (I literally felt like my face was screaming!) left me with very little sketching motivation. I hope and pray you have better days coming!

    Your Christmas Shop sketch crawl that didn’t happen made me think of a similar one that DID happen: Liz Steel dropped in the Kansas City area several years ago to meet up with Cathy Johnson and myself. We obtained permission to sketch in an old building full of architectural restoration bits and bobs —- two full stories and an ancient basement full of gorgeous things to draw! Even my non-sketching husband had a blast finding treasures! You would have loved it, I’m sure.

    • Sorry to hear that you’ve been sick. I’ve learned a lot about how “stuff” can get in the way of sketching. While I’ve had health problems and lots of associated doctors appointments that have gotten in the way of my sketching regime, I’ve found that the mental aspects of dealing with all that are far more insidious and persistent. I got downright excited to find that I have no more doctor’s appointments for the rest of the month though.

      That restoration shop sounds like a sketcher’s dream. When Liz Steel shows up, everything gets exciting. I still think a lot about her visit to Montreal.

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