The Trouble with Art

I’ll make it short and sweet. What’s the trouble with art? Simply this: there’s so much of it! I guess that’s what makes it exciting; it’s what keeps us coming back. No matter how carefully we might plan our time or attempt to focus on certain aspects of art, we can always be tempted to sign up for one more online class, follow one more demo from an art supply store, or jump in to one more class or challenge.

That’s how it’s been going for me, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one who — despite my best intentions — ends up biting off more than I can chew and getting myself overloaded with learning experiences.

Remember how I carefully outlined my areas of study this fall? I was going to put my attention on three things:

  • I was going to work toward improving my drawing
  • I planned to practice oil painting techniques
  • I wanted to learn the basics of using watercolors

Well, I’m doing all of that, but somehow I’ve ended up doing so much more! In just the past week, I’ve made origami boxes, planned a session with a grand-daughter to try basket-weaving (wish us luck!), joined a five-day still life painting challenge with Kelli Folsom, and had fun creating spooky art with an online demo from Michael’s.

When I go to my email in-box, I find dozens of invitations to participate in art programs, some with a fee attached, and others offered free of charge. Oh, it’s so tempting to click, go, join.

Of course I want to try it all. I’m still fairly new to this art game. I still have so much to learn, so many different things to do, so many areas where I can improve. The trouble is… there’s no way to do it all. That means I have to be discriminating about what I do and when I do it.

Each time another art invitation comes along, I have to ask myself a lot of questions:

  • Is this something that will tie-in with the areas I’m working on now?
  • Is it on an aspect of art that I really want to learn about?
  • Is it affordable?
  • Are there specific benefits such as critiques or one-on-one time with an instructor?
  • If I skip now, will it be available at a later date?
  • Do I have to show up at a specific time, or will it be available on-line for viewing at my convenience?
  • Do I have the supplies I need?
  • Do I know the instructor?
  • For in-person classes, will I be comfortable doing this in a group setting?

It’s turned out to be a good “working list” to help me choose what links to follow, which to delete, and what workshops to take part in.

Consider the still life painting challenge with Kelli Folsom. It’s designed for oil painting, and even though I’m mostly a landscape painter, I still want to learn different techniques. I do want to paint still lifes now and then, and the 5-day program is free. You can’t get more “affordable” than that!

Another benefit is that Kelli is available to answer questions. I have followed one of her online tutorials before, and I’ve liked her teaching style, so that’s a big plus.

Yes, I could probably have skipped this time around. Kelli has offered the program before as an introduction to her classes. No doubt she’ll offer similar workshops at future dates. I decided, though, that this was a good time for me to jump in and give it a try.

All the daily challenges are recorded, so although there’s a deadline — 11:00 AM this morning — I don’t have to log-on at specific times in order to do the paintings.

Here’s one of the challenges. It’s supposed to be an orange, although I think in some ways it looks almost more like an onion! Oh, well. It has not been a good day in the studio. Flower Child, our lovely little cat, was “helping out” a bit in the studio. The result was spills, broken bottles, mangled paper towels, and quite a mess to clean up.

I was frazzled. Maybe later I’ll try this challenge again. Even frazzled, I enjoyed painting this, and I do think I’m learning from the workshop.

In similar fashion the recent online class with Michael’s “fit the bill” for me. It was watercolor, it was Halloween-themed, it was free, and it was fun. Same with the origami boxes — a project done at a recent art club meeting.

Maybe “fun” is one more thing I should add to my list of questions. When I consider the class, the subject, the supplies, the methods and medium, can I reasonably expect to enjoy it? Or might it simply prove to be an uncomfortable and unwanted distraction from what I’m doing with art now?

That means I do skip over or delete a lot of emails. Right now, I’m not interested in following along with mixed media projects, attending portrait-drawing sessions, or signing up for classes costing hundreds of dollars.

As much as possible, I am trying to keep to my basic areas: drawing, oil painting, watercolor. But sometimes something comes along that’s just too tempting to resist and that’s the trouble with art. It’s a good kind of trouble though, don’t you think?



  1. I’m afraid to say I did think “onion”. 🙂
    I have followed two taster courses recently and their leït motif is fun. That’s my reason for art.
    “So much of it” That applies to all the art work piling up also.


    1. Yep, it looks more like an onion than an orange, so I guess I still had onions on my mind following my recent onion-drawing session. You’re right about “so much of it”. I have “so much of it” all over my studio… on the walls, on the shelves, in boxes and bins. I do go through my canvases and re-use ones that were “failed paintings” or practice paintings, but we can’t do that with drawings or watercolors so much. The best I can do is just try to keep it all organized. 🙂 That’s a real challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

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