5.16.2012

Words of Wisdom from Lesley Riley

What To Do When It's Not Working

In my last newsletter, I wrote about rhythm in art. Rhythm is one of the elements of art. Rhythm is also the result of pulling together all of the elements and principles of art into your work for a pleasing composition. And then there is YOUR rhythm, the key ingredient to successful, moving art.

So, have you got rhythm? Even if you can't carry a tune or cut a rug, the answer is yes. We've all got rhythm. It's an internal thing. Our rhythm shows up in the way we walk, the way we talk and the way we spend our days.

When it comes to art, your rhythm shows up in your subject matter, your color choices and the way you compose things on the canvas/fabric/paper. Most times you make intuitive choices and it all comes easy for you. Other times you may feel as if you are all thumbs, two left feet or tone-deaf and color-blind, especially if you are a beginner. That's when it's time to just walk away. Literally - just walk away. Intentionally take a walk.

This clumsy, awkward feeling of incompetence happens to all artists. We all have days or periods when our rhythm is off. And that's all it is - an off day. The thing is, many (if not all) artists feel that what they do, this creating thing, is magic. And, indeed, it is. You create something from nothing, spin straw into gold. The problem is that because it is magic, you fear it might one day disappear.

Have no fear. It will not disappear. You're just out of synch, off your rhythm. It happens for many reasons but the most common one is that you are not in touch with yourself. You are forcing it, over-thinking it, looking outward when you should be looking inward. Or actually...you shouldn't be looking at all. You need to feel.

What brings tears to your eyes, makes your heart sing, makes you feel like dancing? What do you want to let everybody know? What have you had a lifelong interest in or affection for?

a color?
a shape?
a face?

an idea?
a line?
a time?

When you are truly connected to your subject matter, your work shows it. The rhythm is just there, effortlessly. Personal rhythm is the common thread that appears in an artist's work, no matter what the subject matter. You know it when you see it. It's also known as style or voice.

Those days or times when you're just not feeling it, don't try to force it. It shows. You know and they'll know. The remedy is to just walk away and get in touch with yourself. With your heart. A walk creates and enhances your natural rhythm. Walk until you feel your rhythm return. Walk through the frustration, the doubt, the clumsiness. Add music if desired, but find something just a beat faster than you feel. Let the faster beat of the music raise your spirits and your rhythm to where you feel like dancing.


In my next newsletter, I'll share tips on using your personal rhythm to create good composition.
Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the creative founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit www.ArtistSuccess.com.

2 comments:

Reva said...

Thanks for this!
I often fell my art is so blah....
maybe because I'm choosing the wrong subjects!
xXx
Reva

anne m bray said...

Lesley is an amazing woman. Go check out her blog, you will get inspired