A post with no name

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately:

no name post
“The Thinker”, August Rodin, bronze.

If you’ve been reading us for awhile, you know that Laura and I trade off weeks to blog. She needed some time off, so we just posted an old blog last week, which meant this week was my turn. I’d love to tell you that I just sit down one afternoon and dash a few lines down on paper and voila = a new blog post. Sadly, that is not how it usually goes.

I do tried to plan in advance some topics for future posts, I keep a list when ideas strike me. Then the week of writing, I like to jot down an idea, maybe a title on Monday. I do a little research, find some photos to feature, some links to include, sometimes even little outline. I generally block out Tuesday afternoons to write. That way on Wednesday, I can read over it, make some edits and get it all set to post on Thursday morning. But this week my ideas looked a bit like this:

no name post
Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting [three panel], 1951; latex paint on canvas, 72 in. x 108 in. (182.88 cm x 274.32 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Tuesday, nothing. Wednesday, nothing…..I did for a brief moment, consider doing my own “invisible art” and posting a blank page. You can write your own post! I was concerned that might not be so well received……

The reality is that the creative process takes time. When Laura goes into her studio to paint, a masterpiece doesn’t suddenly appear on the page. There are workshops on techniques, sketches, photographs, color studies. Sometimes, paint even gets scraped off the canvas and the work is begun anew.

Writing for me is a bit like that – I’ve studied, participated in workshops, read articles and sometimes, I start a post and don’t finish it. I might come back to it, I might just hit the delete button and begin again.

No post to write

So what’s a writer to do when she has nothing to write? I don’t know…when I figure that out, I’ll be sure to write a post on it! In the meantime, I’ll wax on about my own creative process and hopefully bring some beauty and encouragement to you.

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I really didn’t want to have to post a new blog this week because the writing just wasn’t coming together. But Laura challenged me that maybe that is exactly what I could write about. I’m an organized person. I have a plan and I love it when the plan comes together.

Life is often not so well organized. The dots don’t get connected, sickness intervenes, death disrupts, joy sidetracks and the plan is scrapped and the journey takes a new direction. Maybe the plan isn’t the point. Maybe the Planner is (not the planner – those very disruptions show that I’m not ultimately in charge of my plan). I am often slow to learn. Perhaps now is not the time to force the creative process. Maybe now is the time to just be.

I have no amazing title, no carefully crafted phrases for SEO (search engine optimization), no fabulous wrap up and call to action. I’m going to fix myself a cup of coffee and go for a walk, or maybe I’ll read a good book. The next post will come in time.

no name post
“The Path at La Cavee Pourville”, Claude Monet, oil.

The project pile or the trash heap?

Let’s face it, some days are better than other days; some projects roll out smoothly and others don’t.

But I’m one of those persistent types, I keep at it, which is good, because determination over talent can often carry the day. But other times, like with this painting “Pepper Harvest” I learned an equally important lesson.

project or trash
© Laura Gabel, “Pepper Harvest”, soft pastel, 14 x 16. Private collection

Have you ever felt like you wanted to take a hammer to it, burn it, stomp on it, just get rid of it? That’s the way I felt about this still life.

We are often tempted to scrap, dump, throw away a project that doesn’t seem to be going our way; it’s grinding and hard and no matter what you try, it doesn’t work. 

Artists are notorious for condemning their own work. Fortunately I’m a thrifty artist, and paint, pastel, canvas, and paper are costly, so I scrub a lot of projects away in the sink. 

This time however, I just put the pepper painting away. Yes, I removed it from my sight, I set it aside. As a matter of fact, I forgot all about it.

Then I found this old project again one day when looking for something else. I decided to just use it as a “practice piece” but as I started painting, to my surprise it seemed easy…hmmm. I wondered why? Was it:

  • Time? Perhaps I had strengthened my skills during the interim.
  • Distance? Perhaps I just needed a different perspective on it.
  • Desire? Perhaps I just really didn’t want to paint these peppers at that time.
  • Break time for the mind? Over-thinking or pushing too hard can often have a negative effect.
  • Purpose? As I practiced on it, I became more excited by it because I knew that I could make a special someone happy with it!

We can’t always take an extended breather, sometimes there are deadlines. But going on to do something different even for a day or two can sometimes make big a difference!

It’s really a life long skill to enjoy, acknowledge, and give thanks to God for those times when all seems to be working well and smoothly. It’s also good to remember that every situation is an opportunity to learn. There is wisdom in knowing when to rest and wisdom in knowing when to persist. Luckily scripture tells us we can seek wisdom (James 1:5) and God is happy to oblige!

Take a minute and tell me about a stalled project you’ve encountered and what you’ve learned from it. Or maybe you’re still stuck and we can help you get a fresh perspective.