Artist in the Garden

Wisteria on the back fence, May 2023

Stuck. Every creative knows the feeling. Whether you’re stuck without new ideas or stuck on a project that seemed like a good idea in the window but not when you got it home or stuck because the heat has drained you of every ounce of creative energy, you’re stuck.

I have a cup I bought at the Wooden Boat Show in Portland, Maine, years ago. It’s an ordinary but serviceable pottery cup, the kind old-fashioned diners often use. But this is not an ordinary cup, because this one has a message from the Wooden Boat Show: “Row Hard. No Excuses.”

I use this cup almost every day and it reminds me to keep rowing. Attend to the painting. Do the art chores. Clean the brushes and tools. Take the photos. Keep the web pages going.

But as the days grow longer and the sun beats down stronger, my creative energy flags to the point of exhaustion. This is not good news. I’m certainly not rowing. I’m more deadset. I have an art show coming up at the end of the summer and there’s work to be done. But for now, I’m off buying flowers and gardening and living up to the name of this site, “Art and Tulips.”

I’ve spent nearly all my time over the past several years writing about art, but what about those tulips? And delphinium? And roses? And the snowball tree? What about the pansies and petunias? The dipladenia and the bleeding heart? The lantana, the sweet peas and the zinnias of summer? What about the hollyhock, the hydrangea, the weigelia, the snap dragons and the geraniums?

They count, too. Every single and precious bloom and blossom.

We already know we cannot live by bread alone, and I say if you’re living a creative life, you cannot live by work alone either. Inspiration comes from many places and if it comes from the garden, welcome it with open arms and dirt under the fingernails. I will get back to work soon, and so will you. When I do get back, this collage will be part of the new show.

Celestial Bodies Series
copyright 2015, Molly Larson Cook
14″ x 11″ mixed media paper, acrylic paint and acrylic ink
on illustration board

In the meantime, let us stop and smell not only the roses but every other sweet thing. I’m particularly fond of my heliotrope. We’re not stuck. And we’re not making excuses either; we’re living our lives. All senses are on deck and that, my friends, is money in the bank for any kind of artist.

Art. And Tulips. Amen to that!

6 thoughts on “Artist in the Garden

  1. Regina…thank you for good suggestions…I’m sure other readers will appreciate them, too.

  2. Thankyou for writing such a timely article! We all have times like these and a beautiful summer garden is just the thing to ease our frustrations.However, if one is a pro, with commissions due, and one is in a fix like this…that person is in trouble.My father was a professional, as are both my brothers, and so am I.The only way to resolve this issue is to go in to your studio with purpose.Lay out your palette, get everything organized, get in front of your canvas with paint on the end of your brush and apply it to the canvas.Keep doing it.Even if you dont like it.Make color spots, lines, shapes, squggles if you have to, but do it.Do not allow distractions.Enough of that will get you going again.Hope these thoughts help.

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