What is the better part of valor when the muses snooze? Is it better to set yourself a goal to work every day, or to allow yourself to lie fallow? Is it the discipline of work which breaks you through to the next level, or is your muse trying to tell you to allow for a period of gestation?
I think the right answer is the one that fits your particular creative style. I am pretty much a feast or famine painter: when I am productive I can be very productive, but I often need to follow these periods with a period of waiting for the gestation of the seeds of whatever is next. I have just been through a painting binge, linked to my trip to Casa de los Artistas in Mexico: 15 paintings done in my week there, and perhaps the same number of larger kworks done in 2-3 weeks after my return. But for the last 2-3 weeks, I have been quiescent, continuing to dabble with Boca remembrances, but without the intensity, or the success.
I have gotten used to this pattern, and it no longer worries me. I know I will start again, perhaps with a trip to Maine, perhaps with a portrait commission. But I also know that one of the hardest things can be to start again when I have been away from it for a while.
I believe that, like a farmer’s field, wonderful things can happen beneath the surface when we lie fallow, and allow ourself to be absorbed in other life activities and experiences. The trick is to know when we reach the point of diminishing returns, and need to prime the pump. Or that’s the first trick: the second is to know how to do it. For myself, I cannot do it by forcing myself to start a painting I don’t feel. I can sometimes do it by heading out to find new places and scenes. But most often I wonder if it is anything I really control. Ultimately, the inspiration comes precisely because the juices are flowing again, independent of my efforts to make it happen.
Artwork by Walt Curlee, see more of his work at www.WaltCurleeArt.com