Thursday Morning at my Desk

Inspiration is for amateurs. We professionals just go to work in the morning.

Chuck Close, quoted by Christoph Niemann, illustrator on Abstract: The Art of Design (Netflix)

I’m not a big believer in the books and courses that advocate creativity rituals, altar making and mask making to get unstuck and get started. Maybe that stuff works. I don’t know. They just seem like more strategies to avoid getting on with it.

Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity

Thursday morning has been spent mostly floundering about, since I have reached the rare point in my life of waking to no deadlines or appointments. I posted the college grades yesterday, so the semester has ended, and I find myself without a contract for the spring semester. This is completely new; I have taught college as an adjunct nearly every semester since 1985, and when I retired from my full-time public school career after twenty-eight years, I still had college courses to teach. Now I have nothing in the classroom or online until at least next fall, or perhaps never. Maybe that door has closed. Today I’m trying to absorb that reality. Making art and engaging in scholarly activity are the dual aspects that have defined me for over three decades. The two activities have fed off one another, and have in turn produced a dual life of private solitude balanced with a public forum. The public will still be around with respect to art shows and art workshops. But I now consider the possibility of no longer speaking in a classroom or lecture hall over subjects including art history, philosophy, religion and literature. Oh well, I’m not writing this in sadness, just musing aloud over what’s next.

I have always dreamed of a day like today (fully retired, instead of semi), and now that it has finally arrived, I find myself fumbling. Soon I’ll depart for holiday travels to be with friends and family, but I won’t have a job to return to in January. Strange. The next firm commitment on my calendar is a one-man-show opening in February which now feels years away on the horizon. In the meantime, my new website now has a PayPal component added so patrons can make purchases of my limited editions online. I have wanted that capability for years and am very pleased that the day has finally arrived:


The website now includes stories I have written for some of my paintings. I hope you will take the time to read some of them and give me feedback. I’ve been thinking for years about the possibilities of writing and illustrating a book of short stories about an American town.


New panels prepared alongside works in progress

After a morning of reading and journaling, I rose from my desk and went into the studio to stretch five new watercolor surfaces. I prefer to soak and stretch ninety-pound coldpress watercolor paper over canvas stretchers. No matter how wet they get during my watercolor activity, they always shrink-dry and are nice and flat when complete. Then I remove them for framing and re-use the stretcher bars for future watercolors. I have three new commissions out in front of me, so I have just completed the mindless chore of preparing the surfaces.

Now as for the quotes that open this blog: I have always been a dreamer and have thrived on inspiration for writing and making art. But I find myself laughing when someone writes making fun of rituals designed to inspire creativity. As I have written before, I derive most of my inspiration for art and writing from what I read. Excellent books that I return to again and again include Ian Roberts, Creative Authenticity; Robert Henri, The Art Spirit; David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear; and Ted Orland, The View from the Studio Door. 

But I feel my face turning red when I hear amusing stories such as the one about Keith Richards in the basement, riffing on his guitar and doping, waiting for inspiration, while the Rolling Stones wait impatiently in the studio upstairs. This morning found me pacing around the house, drinking coffee, sitting at my desk scribbling in the journal, turning on the TV to watch “Abstract” on Netflix, arranging my supplies on the drafting table, stretching watercolor paper at the sink, all the time wondering how to launch a day of creative exploits.

I also printed and matted new copies of a watercolor I did a couple of years ago. A patron has just ordered an 8 x 10″ matted copy, so I got that one out of the way. This is a piece I had forgotten about, and thanks to social media, someone in Dallas notified me to find out if it was still available. It is.

bass lure try again

A New Print Ready. 8 x 10″ in 11 x 14″ mat. $25

So. Back to this notion of inspiration, altar building, preparing the artist to create. I would love to hear from anyone your ideas on this. I have dozens of rituals I put in play when I get stuck. And then sometimes I just get out the materials and go to work. Since I’ve always been employed one way or another, I have worked around an appointment calendar to create something. Now, without that structural calendar, I find myself casting about for some notion of how to fill up these unstructured days. This new freedom, I must say, is dizzying. So tell me, how do you go about your creative enterprise? Do you have a system, a structure? Do you have ways to light your creative fires when you are not in the mood to produce anything? I love hearing from other artists, writers and creative spirits. And I love to hear of “starter rituals”. Let me know how you do what you do.

I close with this quote from Abstract Expressionist painter Barnett Newman: “Writers write so they will have something to read; painters paint so they will have something to look at.”

Thanks always for reading.Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

bass lure try again



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