For some reason it has been impossible for me to paint for the past few weeks. Other demands on my time and on my mind have impeded, leaving little energy for art. And when I do try to squeeze in an hour here and there, I find a lack of focus leads me down dead ends, failed starts, wiped canvases. Painting without a clear vision or emotional intent seems to lead to nothing. Occassionally I can do a quick portrait sketch, like the one above of William Faulkner, and it seems to help remind me that getting to a fair resemblance is still possible. But these are dashed-off paintings, often done in spurts of five minutes at a time, between sets of lifting weights in my adjoining workout room, trying to multitask and fit in all the things at which I want to spend more time. These quick sketches are a kind of workout, too, trying to keep the muscles flexible, the mind and hand connected.
Another sketch, done at around the same time, probably from the same paint on the palette, of Virginia Wolf. I know one of the biggest pitfalls of writing is the dreadful writer's block, but that seems much more overwhelming than when the muse deserts the painter. At least a painter can make studies and sketches or even prepare boards and canvases for later work, having something to show for the hours of effort; the writer, on the other hand, has nothing if it can't be put in print.
Below is a painting I began with some hope, but I only got halfway into it before stalling, and now I'm not sure I believe in it any longer. I'm willing to accept these aborted efforts if I can at least occassionally come through with something that carries my original intent. But a long string of these things can be discouraging.
On a side note, one thing that is encouraging is that I have seen my 18 year old son take up an interest in drawing. He hasn't expressed much interest before now, but he has obviously been harboring a bit of talent inside and I only hope he can carry on through his life holding on to the impulse to create from time to time. Below is a drawing he recently gave me.