Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you feel like you are the only one enduring the hardship? 

We all go through hardships whether it be with our art or otherwise. A friend once told me, “If Art imitates life, let there be more Life!” Wise words. 

Most artists draw from their life experiences and pour them into their work. It may be intentional or a subtle by-product, but what we feel, experience, or endure tends to make its way into our art. 

Hardships come in all shapes and sizes. A hardship for one may pass as a breeze for someone else. So refrain from judgement. It’s all relative. It could be personal. It could come from macro-culture, or it could be directly related to your art. I say, let it feed your work. Sit with it and let it feed your soul. Let it flow and notice it. Thank it for showing up and ask what clarity it may bring going forward. 

For example, I was facing a very personal and daunting situation a few years ago. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I dealt with it by turning to my art. I first used it as therapeutic mark making. It kept my hands and mind busy. The more I experimented the more I lost myself in the act. Then something wonderful happened. I had the insatiable desire to implement the marking making into a composition. And the more I did it, the more calming it became. When I look at that period of my life, I am reminded how I got through it with grace, clarity, and some darn good art. 

Another example is when I decided to move across the country.  One of the most important things was for my art to make it on to the truck. That was one of the main reasons for the move. I was starting a new chapter and relocating to a richer artistic environment.  Well, bottom line, it didn’t.  For one reason or another, there was not enough room on the truck for my art.  My interpretation of this was that there wasn’t enough room for my life on that truck. 

I fretted about that for a few hours and finally fell asleep. During the night, I had an epiphany. I would cut the art off the frames. I did just that and I rolled my art up and put it in my suitcase. 25 paintings flew Southwest to my new home and new life. 

My art was now getting a new life as well. It existed in its former home as large 40 by 40” paintings on deep stretched canvases. Now they exist as rolled pieces of cloth. But those rolled pieces of cloth are to be repurposed. They will become smaller pieces of work. And, like any hardship, they will work themselves into mighty solutions. I look forward to listening to what they want to be. 

Some may think it was blasphemous to cut art from stretcher bars, but the upside of this story is twofold. I love working on smaller, more intimate pieces of art and to use the characteristics of a painting that once was, and build it into a new statement is so enticing. The stretcher bars I left behind went to a dear fellow artist who was so appreciative and will, no doubt, create some incredible work as a result. 

So, when facing a hardship, even when it seems overwhelming, just stare it down. Sit with it. Ask it what it wants. Be patient. It may sound cliché, but I do believe things happen for a reason. So shuffle things around to make room for your life on your truck, and keep driving. 

blog by Roxanne Grooms


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