Figuring out just exactly what *do* I want from art

Having a lot of art thoughts lately… seems like I’ve been all over the map artistically the past couple of years, never quite settling into one thing but thinking that I should do ONLY such-and-such (which lasts a week or so, then I block right up again!). I’ve certainly tried fitting myself into various boxes that I’m not particularly good at. This has resulted in my longest-standing, big ugly artist’s block of the past couple of years I believe.
I’ve been pretty envious of artists who are just so *consistent*, never wavering in style, technique or subject matter. I guess that’s just not how I am. Or so I thought — been talking this over with my husband to get a more objective view on the matter, and we’ve discovered that the one constant I’ve had with almost all of my art, at least the art I’ve really enjoyed, is NATURE. I loved painting fairies back in the day mostly because of the flowers and plants and natural things I could paint them with, as well as their sweet tiny wings and such. I also adore anthropomorphic, dressed-up animals, which of course live and play in the woods and fields and trees. Nearly all of my very most favoritest artists, living or deceased, are either landscape/botanical artists, paint little dressed-up animals, or imaginative whimsical people interacting with nature.
I’m really not good at painting man-made, non-organic things like buildings, interiors, cars, mechanical objects, etc. I can do it, but I don’t enjoy a minute of it. Since getting on the road to children’s illustration, I’ve tried making myself do just that — hanging out in the world of man rather than with God’s natural creations. No wonder I’ve been blocked like crazy!! I felt that I *had* to, instead of recognizing that there are a great deal of children’s books out there that feature animals, the outdoors and suchlike. And I’m sure there there are other types of possibilities for botanical and landscape stuff. Which I’m really enjoying painting, by the way. Haven’t tried a straight-out landscape yet without some little character attached, but I really want to. Indeed I do! That’s what inspires me in real life anyway, the outdoors and critters and things like that.
Now, hopefully I’ll get my juices back and go for painting what I love.

11 thoughts on “Figuring out just exactly what *do* I want from art

  1. Holly Durr says:

    I have found (and I’m speaking of my own experience) you have to be true to yourself or you will put yourself through needless stress and agony. I have struggled over what is the right thing for me to draw, what does the public want, and especially what medium I should use. I’m realizing that it’s easier just to do what I love and not try to change who I am and not to change what God has directed me to do. If no one else likes my art at least it brings me enjoyment and peace that I so need everyday of my life.


  2. Carmen Medlin says:

    You are so right, Holly! I think maybe I’ve been stuck in the realm of “will anyone want to buy this?” for way too long. I’ve seriously had the worst block for the past couple of years, hardly painted anything. Thank you for the wise words. 🙂


  3. Kimmy Vanlandingham says:

    For me, fear of failure will sometimes block me. I just try not to let it. We all go thru this stuff though. I LOVE the sketch!!! The notes fill us in on the scene. It’s like reading a bit of a short story.


  4. Kim at Thistle Dew says:

    Hi Carmen! I pop by your blog for inspiration quite often! And this post was especially inspiring!

    A good portion of my papercut art is done at customer’s requests… my own designs, but their subjects. Sometimes it really clicks, and sometimes not so much. Then, after a lot of “orders,” it’s hard to find the real me again. It’s a huge help to go soul searching through old sketchbooks to see what it is I draw when I’m not caring about what will sell!

    As a Christian artist, it helps me to keep in the back of my mind to glorify God in everything… whether it’s those orders or a painting that’s inside and just needs to be painted. I believe He gives us desires to paint certain subjects for a reason!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Kim 🙂


  5. Carmen Medlin says:

    Thank you so much, ladies!
    @ Kim… yes, thank goodness for sketchbooks! I really ought to take mine outside and sketch the scenery more often. I haven’t done that in ages.
    I also love that God relates to us in such individual ways with the painting subjects we are most attracted to. He sure knows best the personalities of His kids, eh?


  6. Catherine Darling says:

    Hi Carmen , I have so admired your work for several years now. I loved what you had to say in your blog, and have felt the same way. I get so torn about what to paint and am all over the place too. The greatest joy comes in painting what you love, and is shows in your work, so go for it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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