True Balance in Art

Lately I’ve been on an artistic frenzy. I’ve created several drawings and paintings that I consider successful, as well as a few failures, like the hideous blue monster I shared recently. Every morning I get up and tell my husband, “I’m going to artist today.” Yes, we’ve come to use the word as a verb. I guess if I can’t truly see myself being an artist, I can at least spend time doing things that artists do.

“Artisting” has become a very important part of my day. There’s much to learn, and consequently, much to do. I’m at a point now where I’ve developed a few basic drawing skills, so a very wide world of art awaits me.

I have lots of materials to "artist" with.
I have lots of materials to “artist” with.
  • Charcoal
  • Conte
  • Pen and Ink
  • Colored Pencils
  • Tempera
  • Oil Pastels
  • Water Color
  • Soft Pastels
  • Acrylics
  • Oils

And that’s only the beginning.

Becoming an artist involves not merely technical skills and abilities but a lot of knowledge, as well. I’m currently studying color theory with several useful books, such as Color Harmony in Your Paintings by Margaret Kessler.

It’s important, too, to understand the principles of good composition:

  • Harmony
  • Movement
  • Repetition
  • Balance
  • Dominance
  • Contrast
  • Gradation

This list comes from an old issue of Watercolor Artist I recently picked up at a sale. It’s one of several art magazines I enjoy reading. Again, there’s so much to learn, so many new things to try. I want to do it all — now.

I do enjoy “artisting”, and lately I’ve been doing more of it than ever. In fact, I sometimes worry that I’ve become addicted to art. It consumes my time; it consumes my mind.

Each morning I wake up early and while my husband is getting ready for work, I hurry here to my art room to plan my day and contemplate the different things I’ll learn and do. I look over any works I have in progress, think about projects I’ll be starting soon, and I go over the list of lectures, classes, and online tutorials I’m following.

Soon, I’m gathering up my materials and setting to work, happily drawing, sketching, and painting. Before I know it, my husband’s home from work. Where has the day gone? “I’ve been busy artisting,” I tell him with a smile.

I love Degas. I dream of painting works like this.
I love Degas. I dream of painting works like this.

Later, I come back to my art room. I watch class videos, browse around art forums, and look for new books that might interest me. I usually spend a little more time drawing or painting in the evenings, and finally, when bedtime comes, I grab one of the books or magazines I’ve been reading and settle in to learn all I can in those last few minutes before I go to sleep.

As crazy as it sounds, I sometimes dream of drawing and painting, practicing new techniques all through the night. Occasionally, I wake up in the wee hours, and thoughts of art are dancing through my head like Degas ballerinas.

Am I addicted? Am I obsessed?

Over the last few weeks, art has taken over my life. While learning to draw, I’ve put aside the writing I normally do, and a lot of other things have fallen to the wayside, so to speak. I love playing the piano, but I haven’t touched the keys lately. I love cooking, but more and more my husband has to settle for simple casseroles or — horrors! — fast-food.

I don’t spend much time housekeeping, there’s a huge pile of laundry waiting, and sometimes I don’t even get the dishes done. Why? Because I’m too busy “artisting”.

Fortunately, my husband hasn’t complained. He’s more comfortable in a messy house, and he enjoys easy-to-fix comfort food casseroles. If he needs clean clothes, he’ll wash them, and as far as dishes in the sink are concerned, if it were left up to him, he’d only do dishes when there were no clean ones left to use.

I should consider myself lucky, I guess.

But while my obsession with art might not bother my husband, it has started to bother me. Addictions are never healthy, and even the best things can be carried to extremes.

Earlier I was going over that list of key compositional elements again, and one in particular stuck out in my mind. Balance. That was my problem, I realized. Not with my paintings, but with my life. I was letting my love of art — and my love of learning — take precedence over many important things.

I thought back to the last few days. I’ve been discouraged. A recent watercolor attempt fell far short of my hopes. A charcoal sketch of a covered bridge turned out so badly I ripped it from my sketchbook — something I rarely do. Lately, I’ve been reading more, doing more, and feeling more disappointed and discouraged with my work than ever. As a result, I’ve redoubled my efforts, spending even more time, trying even harder, attempting even more projects. In short, I’ve sent myself into a frenzy and have completely lost sight of that most essential element for success: balance.

Indeed, balance is a component of good composition in a painting, a drawing, or a photograph. Without it, a work isn’t going to provide satisfaction to either the viewer or the artist. Balance is necessary in art. It’s necessary, too, in all aspects of our life.

As much as I enjoy “artisting”, I can’t allow it to take over my life completely. I need to step away from the easel more, reconnect with people and activities — other than art – that I enjoy. Getting out of my art room and into the world around me will not only help restore balance to my life but will also provide me with ideas and inspiration to bring back to the drawings and paintings I do in the future.

So whenever you hear about “balance” in art, think about the importance of balancing art and life. Take a little time to stop and smell those roses — as the old saying goes — and you’ll probably be better able to paint them.






1 Comment

  1. Love this! It’s all part of the process! I think back over my first year Sim-blogging: wow! What immersion! Sometimes creatives need to dive in like that. It does feel good to resurface into the mundane, though, I must admit! Also–what about Neptune in Pisces? Has Neptune been playing any of your strings to help spur on that creative immersion?

    Love your points about balance. I’m so excited that you’re sharing your creative journey with us.


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