Saturday, July 26, 2008

Getting Over Painter's Block

I was right about my lack of specificity about what to paint. I gave myself the goal of posting a painting today of California poppies by Laguna Lake, here in San Luis Obispo. It's almost finished, but it got very hot this afternoon, and my studio was like a weanie roast with me as the weanie. I had to stop, but expect to be able to finish it tomorrow morning.

When my son, Bobby Jameson, heard me say I needed to start drawing, he asked me to draw a picture of him, and I did. He put it on his blog,, and got several good comments on it--very encouraging. I'll post it here tomorrow along with my painting, if all goes well. I'm happy about having gone from no art to two successful efforts. Be back tomorrow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Painter's Block

I got a good comment on my last blog, saying I should just make up my mind and do it--get to painting that is. I think that's true, but for me the snag seems to be that I make up my mind at night that I will do art the next day, and when the day arrives, I can't seem to think of how to proceed. So odd.

I've decided I need to give myself a specific project to do, and a time frame in which to do it. The blank feeling that assails me when I want to do art must be a lack of specificity of purpose. I'll do something small, something that will feel like a "first step", with the hope that it will take me on a long journey. I have been wanting to do a painting of California Poppies blooming by the water at Laguna Lake here in San Luis Obispo, where I live. It will be a small canvas, something I can do in a short time.

My friend and I used to walk at Laguna Lake Park until we switched to Bob Jones Trail, because it was so much easier underfoot. At Laguna Lake we saw so much beauty: growing things, flowers, mountains in the distance, all sorts of birds and little animals, and of course, the lake itself.
I saw my first Great Blue Heron there. He was standing in the rushes in shallow water hoping to snag a fish. I marveled at his size as he waited, utterly still. Suddenly something spooked him, and I watched in awe as he took off, rising above the water on those enormous blue wings. What a beautiful sight!

There were ducks of several kinds, cormorants, all sorts of geese, including Canada Geese, sometimes even domestic fowl, such as chickens and guinea hens, and of course the ubiquitous gulls. There are always gulls. These birds all coexisted amicably, as far as we could tell, but sat about on the grass, went into the water, or searched for insects in homogeneous groups, which led me to wonder how birds tell themselves apart. I don't know. Sometimes there were doves, and we were enchanted one day when a dove flew down and stopped right at our feet. It didn't seem to be at all afraid, and just waited there for a few minutes in a companionable way before it finally flew off.

On one walk, we saw a ground squirrel by the path up on his haunches eating something off the top of a plant. As we watched, he suddenly fell backwards, and then picked himself up looking very surprised and rather embarrassed. But, not having finished his feast, he got back up on his haunches again and started nibbling. Apparently his enthusiasm got the best of him, and again he lost his balance and fell backwards. This time he looked mystified and even more embarrassed, but after a little shake of his head, got up and tried again. He was a very persistent ground squirrel, and we were impressed by his pluck. The last we saw of him, as we went on our way, he was happily, and this time successfully, munching the top of the plant.

One of the sights I loved each year was the California Poppies blooming at the edge of the grass by the Lake, silhouetted against the blue water. So I will make this my first project, the thing I will do this week, and will commit to posting on my blog by next Saturday, July 26. I hope that anyone who reads this blog will be sure to stop by and check on me to see if I succeed in carrying out my good intentions.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I've Been Missing

I haven't been able to write for several weeks, and have missed doing it. Now I'm feeling healthy again and ready to write.

The world has not become any more sane since I've been "gone", but the natural world is still as lovely as ever. I walked today with a friend on "Bob Jones Trail," just a few miles south of San Luis Obispo, CA, where I live. The trail is a bike path, so is easy underfoot. At the part where we walk, huge old oaks look down on us as we follow along the gently winding path. There are walnut trees, sycamores, and eucalyptus as tall as the oaks, and down below, we hear quail chattering to each other in the bushes.

After about a mile, there is an opening in the trees on the left, a large grassy area. On the right is a bench where we often sit and look across the meadow to more trees, and beyond them, oak-covered hills. Sometimes acorn woodpeckers gather on the top of a nearby power pole, or on its side, pecking at it diligently as they cling. Often there are blue jays darting in and out of the bushes, or sparrows, or finches. Occasionally, we see turkey vultures above, soaring on the wind currents, not even moving their wings. They are beautiful to watch, and I can't help but think how much fun it must be to soar up there with such freedom.

I have decided to use this blog in a different way. I intend to be less formal, and just write about my life and what I find interesting around me or in the news from day to day. The reason is, that it is easier to be consistent about writing when you don't feel as if what you write has to reach some literary standard, but can just be informal and from the heart.

I am an artist, but haven't done anything related to art for a long time. It's bothering me. I'm asking myself why I don't do some drawings of things that interest me. It might lead me into a painting or paintings. There are so many in my mind I want to do. I don't have this trouble with writing, but as far as art goes, I'm temporarily stuck. There must be others out there who find themselves doing all kinds of miscellaneous things rather than doing what is creative. Perhaps some of you who have been similarly afflicted have ideas about how to slay the dragon of inaction. If so, I'd love to hear about it. Please make comments and let me know.

It's time to stop and go to bed, but I'll be back tomorrow.