Wednesday, November 4, 2009


oil on board

You're sitting in front of the easel thinking, let me just dash off an apple. Simple enough. At least you'll have a painting to post. The pups just went out, so they should brawl in their little playpen and give you at least one hour, uninterrupted. This'll be good. It'll get you outta that funky mood, the one that covers you in doubt like a thin transparent film of filth, dulling your vision and sealing up your ears to any sanity that might try to squeak through and knock you upside the head and out of the pity pot.

Well here it is. That freakin' apple! Been working on it for 3 weeks on and off. And it sucks. I need to get this out. I know it seems ridiculous. It's a painting of an apple. Surely not your best Suz, but hey, it's ok. If you are an artist I'm guessing you know what I'm talking about. If you've read my blog at all you know I'm a walking poster child for insecurity and doubt, always lamenting the loss of my mojo. I even received a very passionate email from someone admonishing me, albeit gently, for even uttering the words "I can't paint anymore!" This person's mother was a gifted artist until surgery went dreadfully wrong and made it impossible for her to work— ever again. That definitely gave me pause and made me even more guilty about this latest session of nonsense and waste 'o time.

I felt stupid trying to explain to her that those feelings of dread, of the seeming loss of one's ability, however false they might be in reality, feel very real. Stupid? Yes. I know I'm responsible for what I think and feel. Thoughts cannot just show up. And they all have a purpose. And if I don't take steps to curtail this flight of fancy into the dark place, I'm really going to be extremely unhappy, not to mention hopelessly behind.

So I'm posting this freakin apple. I'm not going to melt, disappear, or spontaneously combust if I post work that I think isn't good. I should make it a point of posting everything I do, good, bad or indifferent. I need to laugh at this stuff. These standards I'm holding myself to are ridiculously high, not to mention arrogant and methinks I'm not the only one sick and tired of my constant whining. I'm so very tired of this dance, obviously I can paint.

It's nothing but a smokescreen of doubt so that when the smoke does clear, there I'll be, on the bed, Pug on each shoulder — one eating my hair, the other still bent on extracting milk from my ear lobe, remote in one hand, bag of chips in the other and depression, solidly and "happily" in place. I think it would be a lot easier if I just put the brush down, laughed off the doubt and insecurity and watched the tube until I felt better, providing I felt better within the next hour that is.

Maybe I'll try that the next time.


  1. I know a handful of "artists" who would give an appendage to paint an apple like this. It's very subjective isn't it, what's good for one person is awful in another and just fantastic for yet another. Bottom line, if you're not happy with it, how can you expect other to feel the same?

    No one can force you to lighten up on yourself or take your self doubt away. Only you have that power. When I feel down or insecure, I start listing all the things I'm thankful for. I can see something that might top your list right away Suzanne.... 280 of them actually. Do you know how many successful artists out in blog land have a fraction of those numbers of fans/followers?

  2. Sometimes I get too frustrated too if something that appears simple takes me a long time to paint or draw, and it can turn me off from being able to see what I've accomplished. Later on when I look over my shoulder, it looks better to me.

    Frustration and feeling stuck happens to every artist sometimes, so you're not alone. Looks like a fine apple!

  3. oh suzanne i totally understand what you are talking about! been reading your blog now for a while and i sympathize! i had a baby 3 years ago and it totally knocked me sideways. been in a painting funk for three years. messed up everything for me, my subject matter, my painting style. everything. i seriously felt like i had no idea how to paint anymore. i was about to throw in the towel but finally, the end of this summer i found new inspiration and direction in my work.

    stick with it girl. experiment, play and post the bad stuff. i did and received amazing support. i took some workshops and just kept plugging along. it wasn't until the end of last year that i completely realized it was ok. it means you are growing as an artist and you have to listen to your artistic self and just keep plugging along. paint without expections and trust your instinct, see where your brush leads you. :]

  4. Suz, Don't be hatin' on this lovely apple. You've done a good job with it. I would suggest you look at the diagonal line cutting behind the right side of the apple - maybe push it left a little at the top. I really believe that little tweak will do wonders for how you feel about it.

    Personally, I like your high standards. Your work is an ongoing source of inspiration to me. Please keep 'em coming. Hugs, -Don

  5. Well obviously I don't know much about painting, because I love this apple painting and all your paintings are superb to me, I guess it is subjective, I would love to be half as good as you. Cheer up you are brilliant.

  6. Yeah, the voice in MY head says, "OH, if only you could paint like Suzanne Berry....".

  7. Hey Suzanne - did you ever think you might be clinically depressed? I was, and am. I take medication for it and am about 75% better. Look into it.
    And by the way - the freakin' apple is great!

  8. Sheila, I made a grateful list and sat down and had a good talk with myself. I'm sure it's the time spent away from working that's got me frazzled. thank you so much for your kind words. i'm feeling better already. i guess i needed some perspective too.

    Mona, thank you so much. I think it's the pups, not being able to work and just general ickyness. thank you, i'll keep your words in mind.

    Christine, i really think you hit the nail on the head! obviously the pups aren't anywhere near the work an infant is, but i'm so used to doing what i want when i want, and i haven't been able to sit and paint uninterrupted for almost a month now and i think it just caught up with me! thank you so much, i'm going to lighten up and not take it all so seriously. your comments are much appreciated.

    Don, thank you. we've chatted and it's helped so much. i have more to say, thanks so much!

    Diana M, thank you so much. I really appreciate your words. I'm just frazzled and missing my studio time I guess. I'm going to focus on the positive and keep going. This is just a minor bump in the road. Thank you so much for your support and comments.

    Elizabeth, you are an angel, thank you. I need to regroup and stop whining!

    John, i never thought so, but i might have to start. I think it's just the lack of time to work, but I'll consider your advice. Thank you so much and thanks for liking that apple!

  9. Hi Suzanne,

    If this is how you whine, I hope you continue to do it. We all need this. We all feel this way from time to time, but few of us so eloquently. The puppies chewing your ear as you watch the tube is a nice touch. I have Siamese cat who will
    knead me like a loaf of bread while I'm watching TV and escaping my art. But it is true that you are excellent and so is the "freakin'" apple.

    Take care,


  10. Oh, Suzanne!

    I applaud you for airing your "dirty laundry" and showing us what's been frustrating you.

    Who says the apple painting ever has to be finished? Maybe the way it is right now is all it will ever be. And that is perfectly fine.

    Your mojo is hardly lost. I think it just wants to be shaken around a bit and try other things?

    Thanks for sharing your struggle with us. Every artist goes through this at some point. You WILL get through it. You'll see.


  11. The mood will pass. I highly recommend chocolate in the interim, however.
    Interestingly, I have found that painting a single subject of apparent simplicity often has led to my greatest painting failures. I don't know why.

  12. I love this apple! I've come back to it a few times.
    It's lovely!

  13. Jala, right on both counts! Chocolate is quite the mood lifter and now that I think of it, painting a single subject of apparent simplicity has always led me to the dark place!! I swear there's an apple on this very blog with a post of the same desperation! thanks!

  14. Wow - I am so shocked that you dislike the apple. There is nothing wrong with it and everything right with it! I love that the edges are slightly fuzzy and I love the light that's hitting the top. I also love the grain in the surface its sitting on. My eyebrows are truly raised! This is fantastic!


Your visits to my blog and the comments you leave here are an integral part of my creative process. They are helpful, supportive and well, let's face it, they feel really good! If I don't thank you personally, please allow me to thank you in advance for taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts, they mean so much!