Making Art in Hard Times

“Trees of Rivertown”, detail from larger painting, acrylic. 50 x 30″.

I’m writing about how artists can still create although they are in a bad mood or going through a really rough time of life. This topic popped up on my favorite “Painter’s Keys” website. I not only personally know about how we can make good art in tough times, but would love to see someone make a documentary about how some of the most talented artists of all time made their best work while overcoming troubles of life. Making art can save you. Deliver you from harshness of reality. Provide another doorway out, into a better place. I do believe this.

I learned this very important lesson many years ago, in my twenties when I went through a difficult divorce while struggling to make art and freelance illustration. I discovered that I could work “through the tears” and then became focused as I kept working. It felt like art was saving me, in a way. It also helped enormously that I had goals and deadlines to stick to. Not much “floundering” or indecision, just moving forward. I other words, I had clear purpose and accountability to keep me on task.

Years later, problems in life are always there. Now I have new goals about making paintings to deliver to a gallery or online shop. If I have a realistic reason to keep making my art, it helps me stay on task. Once the simple, realistic goal is there, I can “lose myself” in the actual painting process, which helps me navigate through the problems of life that might hinder my art making.

If I don’t have an outside “gallery goal” or deadline, I know I must make one up for myself. So, in 2016, I created two Spring and Fall home studio art shows. 2016 turned out to be my best year for art sales ever.  And it was much more fun to meet new and former collectors. I still contribute to my wonderful Osmosis gallery in my home town of Niwot, Colorado. But I can find my own art people and buyers myself too. Hence, I keep making new goals for myself, and have learned to believe my paintings will be accepted and enjoyed by others, so I just keep on painting, no matter what life brings, good or bad.

Yes, art is a sanctuary for we artists. We are wired to create, and learn to get past the barriers so we can continue to do what we best are meant to do. I’m still trying my best to make more time for art making in my ever-changing life, and have a commitment to do it! Not making art at all is far worse than figuring out how to make art while in a grumpy mood! Turn on the music and just do it. Make a mess, then just keep making it. We can do this thing! Believe in yourself, you are meant to do it.




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3 Responses to “Making Art in Hard Times”

  1. crazyruthie Says:

    I have a chronic illness that causes chronic pain. Art sets me free, as you say you can get lost but also focused when you’re creating. I like to paint just for the process, it makes me so much better. Art therapy helps me on almost everyday!


    • Karen Says:

      I’m sorry to hear of your pain, Ruthie. I’m glad you have found that making art does help. Art is surely a kind of therapy, in many ways.

      Liked by 1 person

      • crazyruthie Says:

        You are so kind! Thank you! Art therapy is part of of my treatment for my mental illness…Bipolar disorder. My psychiatrist volunteers every summer at a kids camp for art therapy. I lucked out! We discuss my work in our sessions. Sometimes I walk in carrying a canvas under my arm! My psychologist delves more into the meanings and inspirations. It just feels good to create! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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