hitting the wall

October 2, 2009

Creating a new painting is a little like running a marathon.  I’ve heard people talk about the psychological aspects of marathon running and I can see similarities with my painting process.

How to explain that?  A lot of runners talk of the moment they ‘hit the wall’ the moment when they feel like they can’t go on and its just too difficult – self doubt and physical pain.  When I paint I rarely get the physical pain aspect – but I do hit a wall… and if I allow myself to give up or stop painting at that point the canvas will not be a success…. if I move on through – and just go with it, not giving up, the painting is likely to work out.

This week that very thing has happened.  I started a new painting on Monday morning.  The Antrim Coast… inspired by our fabulous visit this summer.  For two days I sketched and painted, and at one stage I had this painting in front of me that was a realistic painting of the view to Cushendun from a northerly point along the coast.  but it felt wrong, forced, too representational, not a ‘Heather Duncan’.  If I had been in the studio on my own I would surely have had a loud tantrum, but as Ian and Lindsay were there I quietly but forcefully scrubbed the painting off and got over it… and started again.  Still I was forcing something.

This was the wall.

I got more and more frustrated and then, sure enough, that little censorial voice started its poisonous whispering.  Telling me I was rubbish – obviously. Telling me all those things that you start to believe when your self-esteem starts to dip.  In the past I have sometimes given up at this point.  But if I don’t, if I carry on then this is the moment that I climb the bloody wall and defy that censor!

And this week I carried on.  Listened to Eddie and travelled back in my mind to Atlanta and painted the wonderful memories I have of Sope Creek and the woodlands in which we lived.  I chilled out and allowed the painting to flow out of me without trying to force it.  Here is the painting… all in oils on canvas 100cm by 100cm.

To The Lake

To The Lake


One Response to “hitting the wall”

  1. Grace said

    love your work. I wish you’d share more of what’s in your head about each piece. I can’t find the link to your website.

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