About getting in “The mood” for painting

An artwork must have all its elements integrated around its theme to be good. This means that every detail that is being painted has to be painted such that it helps to emphasize the meaning of the work.

A painting involves so many things to keep in mind to create it: the colors, value, brushwork, edges, colors, thickness of paint, drawing aspect and so on – that something must be used to allow the artist to maintain the cohesiveness of the work while creating its different parts.

The only way to do it, in my opinion, is to let all the artist’s skills, experience and knowledge work from the background and work primarily from their emotions and inspiration in terms of the artist’s state of mind.

When I’m immersed in the work such that I feel as if it is a real world and I am inside it – I do things right. When I find myself thinking of other, technical things and try to work that way the result is always inferior.

To illustrate: suppose you’re working on the background of a painting, the environment in which your figure would go; you can paint it while thinking things like: “A background needs to be unified, it needs to be subtle, so I’ll work my brush thinly and do this and that technical details”, OR you can think something along the lines of how the figure would feel about the background, as if it were a real place. Something like: “The sky seem distant such that the figure feels that they are inside a huge space. Nothing is pressing on them and the sky surrounds the figure as if it belongs there”.

Surprisingly, the sky would come out looking like all the technical things you wanted it to be if you think of the later, but will likely not be as nice if you try to think of it in technical terms as you’re creating it.


Now this long train of thought it actually just the introduction to a different topic which really bothers me. That is; the difficulty of getting into that state of mind.

I think that this is the most difficult challenge I am facing as an artist. I find the mood inspired upon me by my day to day life is a huge obstacle to “getting in the right mood” to make my art.
My art demands the best of me, the best part of my soul, and I feel as if, either the circumstances of my life or something in me that does not allow me to delve into that.
If I start working on a painting and I am at the easel every day (like when I’m at my school), I might eventually get into the right mood, if I feel it spiritually “safe”.
Years ago, when I was done with my army service (at age 19), I lived alone, in a nice, isolated studio apartment with no TV or computer and a phone I barely used (by choice). I painted all day and night, every day and every night and in the rest of the time worked or took walks in the area by myself.
I have never been more productive in my art in my life. It was the right environment for it. I was very happy, but also lonely (and not financially stable).

I need to find a different way to get into the mood that doesn’t involve the extreme of removing every trace of human contact from my life.
I wonder what it is, and why, that having no one around has such a powerful effect on letting me allow that inside world to come out, to make it real and to immerse myself in it.


Not being able to get into the “mood”, I usually just do something else. Days and weeks go by and no painting gets done. True, I could discipline myself into being at my easel, but the clash of motivations is very strong, and unless I manage to really immerse myself in the mood of the painting, I won’t paint it well anyway.

I bet this is a big problem for a lot of artists who create work based on inspiration.


Tomorrow starts my second term of my last year at Georgetown atelier. I wonder how the routine of getting back to the easel every day and painting will affect me. I hope it will affect me for the better.




6 thoughts on “About getting in “The mood” for painting

  1. I, being an artist/architect, identify very much with this article. My most productive years have been when alone. When I live with someone else or even become friends to the point I spend considerable time with them or even just want to spend time with them, I can support their projects from my talents and resources, but don’t seem to be able to get inspired to do my own work. Your talking about this helps me accept my nature.

    1. Hi, Thanks for your comment. I didn’t mean that this is something that is fixed, natural and needs to be accepted. In fact, I was writing it, in part, looking for a solution.

      I don’t think that having a social life should get in the way of making art. It should go together! And some artists do that just fine.

      1. I don’t think there should be a division either. Perhaps it needs to be compatible with the artist such that there is no big distance from that mental space to his inspirational one. I’m in the question about this right now. I recently went down a blind alley with a person who appeared to have many of the qualities and achievements I admire and I thought I knew the kind of character it would take to have that. I was wrong. I’m committed to learning what there is to learn from this and your point has me think there is something to identify related to my integration of my “inspiration space” and my desire for social contact. I’ve socialized before just to get away from the intensity of creation and wandered down a path that later I did not want.

  2. Ifat, Intriguing Blog perspective on getting in the mood, your art thoughts are well received. This is the eternal challenge, to enter into the creative state of ideals, concepts, and notions. It seems to me there always has to be discipline for the craft at the forefront. Lately, I’ve found that varying my palette of color, and changing the framework of my pictures loosens me up and enables me to see/perceive something I hadn’t before, which then provokes my curiosity; this then can lead to some creative moments…and they are to be savored, because they are rare. I’m spending alot of time working on self-portraits to explore the range of expression; it’s been helpful if not fun.

Leave a Reply