Can’t Get Work Done

Sketching in watercolor at my favorite spot at Pt. Lookout Beach, NY
Working at my favorite spot at Pt. Lookout Beach, NY

As it turns out, saying I’m going to get work done and actually getting work done are two totally different things. I’m the kind of person who does what I say, but Resistance is in high gear and there’s nothing.

Since I “work” from home (art studio is in the basement) I am elected to get to the stuff that all the “working” people can’t do.

You name it and it’s been thrown my way: my stuff, family members’ stuff, house emergencies, husband’s stuff, kid’s stuff, errands, appointments, business stuff, car stuff, and everyone needs me to help in their stuff one way or another.

Hey, excuse me, I know I’m at home, but I have work to do over here.

Three weeks worth of everything but painting, has been way too long away from the easel. It becomes a bad habit. Promising myself I will ignore all forms of communication and start my work every day at a set time has not been fruitful.

Never mind blogging. Who has time for that?

An artist I follow on twitter wrote a tweet this week that read: “Hi I’m David. I haven’t painted in 24 hours.” I countered with, “Hi I’m Dora. I haven’t painted in 2 weeks.” Resistance is running high with other artists, too.

However, ending my 3 week dry spell by sending myself to the beach on a warm, sunny day with an open window of time proved just the thing I needed. Food, drink, travel watercolor equipment, sand chair, and I was golden.

After I plopped myself into my chair, I set up my supplies. I chose the shells I bring along in my bag and started sketching in the watercolors. Twenty minutes maybe, and I was done.

Let’s see how my week unfolds this time around. I’ll let you know.

Another 30/30 Painting Challenge for September 2015

Why did I decide to do another 30 paintings in 30 days challenge? I asked myself that same question each day of this month.

So ok, I want to be more accountable, push myself to the studio, paint and process, and maybe get some good work out of it. Can’t say for sure that will happen (the good work part) but maybe, just maybe the Muse will stay and Mr. Resistance will stay away.

Day 1 7x10 watercolor on Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 1 7×10 watercolor on Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 2 7x10 watercolor, Arches 300 lb hot press paper
Day 2 7×10 watercolor, Arches 300 lb hot press paper
Day 3 7x10 watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 3 7×10 watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 4 7x10 Watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 4 7×10 Watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 4 7x10 Watercolor, Arches 300b hot press paper
Day 5  7×10 Watercolor, Arches 300b hot press paper

Five works in 10 days is an ok showing. Working small in 20 minute segments and pushing the process, maybe I can double up and meet the quota this time around.

Fingers crossed Mr. Resistance keeps his distance.

A Smaller Version

In an effort to keep the Muse nearby, and to avoid Mr. Resistance, I worked up another view of the rocky crags and sky scene of the photo from my author friend. Just a smaller version of the larger work to keep things fresh and moving ahead.

Believe me when I say that if I don’t keep at it, even for twenty lousy minutes a day, I’ll be toast.

Another version of the rocky crags photograph
Another version of the rocky crags photograph

It’s smaller than the other view because I was experimenting with keeping the colors, shapes and brushstrokes to a minimum. I wanted to see if I could get away with doing less by using the small size paper and a larger brush.

Never the type to paint so small it was a good exercise in discipline. I usually paint a large painting in a small space, cramming too much detail which would have been better served by a large surface.

My professors in school would say Go bigger! So going smaller is a tough one for me.

It’s a process, and I’m all about the process. In twenty minutes a day, if I’m smart about my time.

Which, if I let Mr. Resistance have his way, I’m not.

Artwork Friday

A little while ago I was hunting for a painting subject and decided to revisit this scene I have painted a couple of times before. This pond garden was such a serene spot when I visited Clark Botanical Garden in my area and I enjoy looking at it.

Pond 3 ©Dora Sislian Themelis, 7x10 Watercolor, Arches cold press paper
Pond 3 ©Dora Sislian Themelis, 7×10 Watercolor, Arches cold press paper

Here it is in watercolor once again. I tried to leave more white space and introduce some brighter colors this time around.

Twenty minutes of work to keep it light, fresh and to enjoy the process.

Working the Artwork, Holidays in Twenty Minutes


The Underside of Sea Shells ©Dora Sislian Themelis 8x12 Watercolor, Arches paper
The Underside of Sea Shells ©Dora Sislian Themelis 8×12 Watercolor, Arches paper

With the holidays upon us, there is no end to the things that need doing now. Needing to address so many items on that long and getting longer to-do list, that painting will probably be the last thing that sees any action.

How is it that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish it all? Besides, there is just no afternoons anymore here in New York. By 4PM the day is gone and it’s pitch black outside. It might as well be midnight it’s so dark and dreary. Add the wintry bluster of the weather lately, and let me tell you how much is going to get done.

Nothing! Yeah, you heard it right. Nothing is going to get done.

So I thought I would cheery myself up by listing some of my summer watercolor paintings.

A while back I was working in twenty minute segments of time to start and finish my paintings. It was, and still is, a good strategy for getting something down on the paper, or canvas if you desire, and finishing up quickly before I went too far and had to trash the work. It was a wonderful experiment and I’ve kept the strategy going even for larger work.

Twenty minutes into my work I stop. Sometimes I walk away to run an errand. I might work on my jewelry pieces, or finish another painting. Then I can return and work another twenty minutes, step away again and assess where I’m at.

Before I started working this way I would go too far, for too long, and ruin perfectly lovely work. Over detailing, too much color, too much stress, and in the trash!

Now if I could possibly use that little trick during this hectic holiday time, maybe, just a small maybe, I could get paintings moving.

Twenty minutes in the process is a possibility. Maybe not probable, but I’m trying to stay positive.


When Resistance is at Bay

Patmos Goats ©2013Dora Sislian Themelis 9×12 Watercolor

While I go on and on about not meeting the requirements of the latest challenge, something clicked inside my artist brain the last few days.

Just to keep you updated, I’ve been reading Steven Pressfield’s wonderful book on Resistance, The War of Art, again. It was a wonderful help in the past and is now.

That, and this 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Or, as I should call it, my Not 30 in 30 Challenge. Man, I am so far behind I’m not going to bother to catch up.

The thing is this: I know I want to paint, but something has to spark my imagination. Like Steven Pressfield suggests, I have to just do it, be present, sit down at the desk and be ready for the Muse/Spirit/Whatever to inspire. More about the wonderful Mr. Pressfield to come.

The garden is fading. The colorful flowers are gone, their stems are drying, everything is either green or brown now. None of my shells appealed to me. Neither did the apples I like to use. The last few paintings had apples and shells together at the beach. Ok, but now I needed something new. Some photos from my summer trip appealed to me and I chose a few to try. I sketched the scene quickly in paint and as it dried I worked in more detail, just feeling satisfaction in the process and the colors.

When Resistance is at bay synchronicity abounds. It felt really good to get something on the paper. Done.

Today I decided I wanted to paint this same scene from my photos again, but differently, going for an even sketchier feeling. The day was free, nothing on the agenda, the house was quiet, and the equipment was ready.

Another try..looser this time
Another try..looser this time

Pushing myself to look at the whole rather than just the subject, I dropped in paint and tried to mold the forms with color being mindful of the wet areas. Watercolor is unforgiving. To keep the work fresh I moved around the paper to drier areas. Twenty minutes and this is where I stopped. I went back to it after it dried so it has more detail than you see here.

Another day, another look-see.