I think I was stymied by my idea of what art and painting should be, by my idea of what was "Important Art."
Important Art was what was showing in the New York gallery scene of the 1990's, or in the New York MOMA. Important Art was what my art school friends who went on to do Masters of Fine Arts degrees were doing: very large, abstract or semi-abstract paintings.
All that was interesting to me intellectually, and I liked to look at it and talk about it with my friends, and I admired many of them for their skill with painting abstractly, but I never felt a shred of desire to paint that way.
But the only other option for a painter, other than Abstract or Figurative (semi-abstract figure-ish), was to be a Bad Artist. A bad artist was a "sellout" who sold pictures of flowers or children or seascapes at tourist galleries. I was very afraid that if I made that kind of art I would be a Bad Artist.
I left art school believing that Important Art came entirely or mostly from your head, and that art done while looking at something in real life was just a "study". Landscape, Figure, Portrait, and Still Life were all ok to do as studies, but if you were to do that for your real Work, you would fall into the category of Bad Artist.
I had been accepted into the most prestigious art school in the country based on my high school portfolio of highly realistic drawings and paintings done from life. And then I was taught that that was not art.
So, feeling like I was never going to be a Real Artist much less an Important Artist, I just stopped making art. I described myself to acquaintances as a designer, never as an artist.
For years I let people people assume I'd majored in design at the Rhode Island School of Design, and did not reveal that I'd spent all of my 4 years there doing figure drawing and oil painting.
But over the years after art school I got very depressed. I put in hours at my graphic design job, and mostly just killed time between my working and sleeping hours.
But I always knew what my problem was, I always knew that I would feel better if I could start painting. So I tried very hard for a lot of years to start painting. In fact, in my head, I was trying very hard to get back to painting pretty much all of the time.These were the things I tried:
- Trying to be "disciplined"
- Trying to be "motivated"
- Making plans to do x just 10 minutes a day
- Being angry and disappointed at myself
- Putting enormous pressure on myself
9 x 12, mixed media on paper