The Burden of Trying

I’ve tried and I’ve failed…. I’ve tried and I’ve succeeded too. So, what is the burden and why does it effect me and my art? The more I started thinking about it the more I realized this issue effects so many other areas of my life. But, this is a rant? complaint? posting about my art work and process.

Here is the basic issue. When I “try” to make art for a specific purpose, media, usage or reason, I become paralyzed. But, I’ve been an artist long enough to know how to work through it, you just do SOMETHING! And you hope your mistakes spark an idea and you move forward. But what I’m finding is that if I am working towards a goal or an outside influence, then I become… timid? is that the right word? I start to consider my strokes before I stroke. I make sure I’m on the right layer if I’m using a layered app. I double check my colors and so on. These are all great and smart things to do. But I find the end result of most of this work, to still look like me, but somehow less free.

Let’s get specific. At the top of this year I realized that I had hardly painted at all. I was on the edge of really turning from an impressionist to an abstractionist and I found myself so comfortable sitting right in between the two doing what I call hipster-outsider-folk-impressionist-abstracts. Well, finding the time to paint was my big problem so I found a new set of tools, iPad and 53Paper app. So, freeing. No expectations. No cost to create. I wanted to hone my skills a bit so I challenged myself to do a sketch a day. “Try” to do a sketch a day? No, this is not the “try” part. There was no obligation, restraint or focus.

Sketch-A-Day begins in January. And it’s easy. I’m doing dumb little doodles in Bamboo app, Sketch app and 53 Paper. I am loving Paper so I stick with it. Once again it’s freeing because it has no layers, no brush sizes, it’s simple. I decide to create a tumblr to display my work and to keep a public record of it. Why? I don’t know, I guess as an artist you want to share. And I wanted some feedback other than my wife ( after all, she pulls my work out of the trash and tries to frame it… she’s often right to do it too..) so, is launched and every day for about 2 months I post a scribble. I can feel a style developing and what is really cool, I hooked the tumble to my FaceBook and Twitter. Now, I have support. Other people seeing my work and giving mostly very positive support. Yeah!! the artist’s ego gets fed and this starts a new problem… people want to buy stuff.

Digital Prints: I think that I don’t like them, I don’t want to do them and I cannot sell these printouts of my work!  Then, I start thinking like a fan, a consumer of art. I realize that I have postcards, prints, and stickers of many of my favorite artist’s work. I cant afford to buy their work, I’d go broke in a min. But I love to drop a few bucks to support them and get a sticker, or a print that I can put up in the kitchen, or frame a collection of artist’s post cards… whatever. and 50 fans buying a $10 print is not bad support. On my website you will find in my shop ( ) original art, silk screens, some digital prints, and some digital downloads. I hope you buy something sometime.

Silk Screens: How did that happen? Well, this is the beginning of the Burden of Try. When people first wanted to buy my art from the Sketch-a-Day thing. I wanted to give them the art, created in an artistic way. I discovered It’s a great studio that allows artist that know a bit about silkscreening get their chops back and start creating printed works. So, I dove in. Go to ( to see the first print available. I LOVE DOING THIS WORK! But the process of color separations from my 53Paper illustrations was tough. and to create art from art… I just wanted more control. Now, I have my “burden.” To create more art, that has the same feel, freedom and enthusiasm as I have been doing, but with an application that allows me to use layers, and simplify colors and make it work for screen prints…paralyzed. I worked through it and started creating cool stuff with Adobe Ideas. But it takes longer, and there are so many choices vs just slapping it down (   I’m a big fan of Raeart ). Now I can’t seem to do a painting a day. I have to think, thinking makes me analyze, analyzing slows me down and images and ideas escape.

So, when I try to work the medium, I am forced to not be in the moment of the creation, and the overall output can suffer. When I try to produce for the purpose of selling, I become a slave to the medium used to produce the work. When I try to create enough work I become burdened by the expectations. When I try to create work that is “like” the artists I admire, I become burdened with my own expectations.

I still must try. I just need to teach my burden to be my hero.

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