I have scraped two paintings in the last week. This really does not happen to me, and I find it disconcerting, to say the least. But I got lost. I’ve been working more intuitively than I have in the past, without working up my ideas beforehand, and until last week I’ve been happy with the way that’s developed. And now I am not- I can’t seem to engage with an idea once I see it in two dimensions, I get frustrated and do something dramatic- again, a reaction that has worked well for me in the past- and in the end, I scrape it down and start over. Hours and hours wasted, paint wasted, confidence shaken. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to paint. I tried taking a couple of days off, which is difficult for me- I panic if I don’t work. It didn’t help.

I KNOW what it is. I know it’s a block, I expect it will probably pass, I am fairly sure I haven’t actually forgotten how to paint. But I don’t get stuck; it just doesn’t happen to me, and I don’t know what to do with myself. I can paint really bad stuff until I force my way through it, I suppose. I can backtrack and return to drawing out my plans, identifying light source and vanishing point with arrows and exes. I think that’s all I can do. I hate it.

When my children were very little, they would reliably be most frustrated, most tantrum prone when they were on the cusp of some new achievement. I remember thinking that there must be power in frustration itself- an additional rush of angry energy which pushed them to gain the skills they sought. Maybe I will just make an angry painting and see what happens. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always prison.

Wish me luck.