The Art of Getting Unstuck


So It’s been a while since you’ve created something? Life just being life? It’s in your heart to create and be gloriously free and fruitful in your art, but the reality is that you have precious little, infrequent times to pull out those art supplies. Then, are you like me, and when you do get the time to devote solely to creating, you’re stuck, frustrated and confused as to where to start? It’s a cruel cycle, and one that makes me want to throw my hands in the air and fill out an application to work at Home Depot.

How do I get myself unstuck and stay that way so that I can move in and out of the studio, transitioning back and forth from non-creative to creative thoughts? I have found that it’s essential to keep the spigot turned on, even if it’s just a teasing tiny trickle. I’ve heard other speakers talk about this, and there are multiple ways to accomplish it. Here’s what works for me.

The Touch: Ever walk down the isle of craft supplies when your out shopping for other things just because it’s there? Touching the stuff that makes the art can be a creative boost in itself. At home, even if you don’t have a studio to yourself, don’t put all your art supplies away. Keep a jar of brushes on the counter, or put a few swatches of fabric under a refrigerator magnet and run your fingers through them as you walk by, Tell them you’ll be back soon. Healthy growing things do not thrive in a sterile environment so don’t clean everything up.

The Well: Every artist needs a notebook, or several. Everywhere. Those ideas don’t wait for your scheduled art time to appear. Creativity strikes at the most inopportune moment, then begins to fade like a sunset. Grab ‘em. List them, draw them, describe them in scribbles only you can understand. Then, when you do get your art time, you’ll know where to begin.

The Eyes: Look at art. Online, in person, wherever. Take pictures of stuff. Not just the stuff you’d like to paint, but colors, patterns, anything that sparks a feeling inside you. It can be totally unrelated to the work you do, but use it to pull up those creative feelings again. Then, when it’s time, spring board off those feelings and turn them into your own expressions.

If you’ve got all this going on everyday. You never let your creative well run dry. You stay in the zone of thinking creatively all the time. I have found this helps me to be able to pick up where I’ve left off when I can’t get into the studio for days on end. Hope this helps you too. Comment below on other ideas that work for you.

Song of Solomon

The Song of Solomon is one of my favorite books of the Bible. A long time ago, I heard a preacher expound on the book as a drama with three main characters: a king, a shepherd, and a young girl. I’ve never forgotten that and I always see the play as I read the story.

I won’t go into that today, but I did want to expound on one chapter. Just as people today want to put Jesus into the same category as other prophets and world changers, A group of women long ago surrounded a young girl and wanted to know what was so special about her “beloved”.

Song of Solomon 5:9 “What is your beloved more than another beloved, O you fairest among women [taunted the ladies]? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you should give us such a charge?” (Amplified Classic version)

In her response from verses ten through sixteen, she starts at his head and describes his features and what is special about him. I found myself questioning why those features would be important - his head, his eyes, his cheeks, etc. But yesterday I found such examples of my sweet Savior in her words.

vs. 11 “His head is [as precious as] the finest gold;” - Kingship and wisdom

vs 12 “His eyes are like doves beside the water brooks” - He looks with gentleness

vs 13 “His cheeks are like a bed of spices or balsam, like banks of sweet herbs yielding fragrance. His lips are like bloodred anemones or lilies distilling liquid [sweet-scented] myrrh.” - Myrrh is a medicinal oil for preserving and cleaning of wounds.

vs 14 “His hands are like rods of gold set with [nails of] beryl or topaz.” My Savior’s hands are set with nails on my behalf.

vs. 15 “ His legs are like strong and steady pillars of marble set upon bases of fine gold.” - He is my rock. (Ps. 92:15)

vs. 16 “His voice and speech are exceedingly sweet; yes, he is altogether lovely [the whole of him delights and is precious]. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!”

There is so much here in these verses. I would love to hear your comments on what you see there too!

God Bless

A Week in the Mountains

It's always such a gift to go teach at John C Campbell Folk School! I never know what season I will be there, but when they invite me to teach a class I always say "Yes!!" as fast as I can. Every class is an assortment of personalities. I had six this time, one of them my daughter, Cat Pope. Six different levels of skill, six different set's of goals for the week. More than anything, my goal was to push them (just a little) to try something new. I think it was a success. They all went home with smiles on their faces, beautiful paintings tucked under their arms, and hugs and kisses good-bye.

They were not the only ones pushing a little harder this week. I was so excited to be invited down to the blacksmith shop after dinner. Cat and I took our cameras the first night, and then I returned with my easel and paints the next night. I'm just so excited that I actually gave it a go. It's not my best work, but painting people from life is my next goal as a plein air artist. Here's my result. A big thank you to the instructor,, Matthew Clark. He had a roaring fire and heavy hammers going on all the while I painted. The class took pity on me and offered a set of ear plugs which I gladly accepted.

"Matthew at the Forge" 8 x 10, oil on panel.

matthew at the forge - Robin Popp.jpg

Tarpon Springs Paint and Photo

Just got back from the plein air painting event in Tarpon Springs, "Tarpon Springs Paint and Photo". My wonderful friend Elaine Hahn put me up in her gorgeous home right on the water. Every morning we woke with the sunrise and raced to paint as the light moved through the coolness of the morning. We shared some great Greek food, (one of my faves) and sipped wine as the sun went down over the bay.  One of our favorite spots is Brooker Creek Preserve. Acres of wild Florida right in the middle of Pinellas County.

Here's a painting I did from a little bridge over the creek that runs through the park. The light filtered into the tree canopy and changed by the minute. We spent two mornings there until the yellow deer flies ran us off. Poor Elaine was up all night scratching bug bites for the rest of the paint out. Right before we packed up and left the scene, a lone Ibis decided to skim the waterway with it's bill in search of a treat. Can you see him? I snapped a few photos and added him as the finishing touch. "Ibis in a Quiet Moment" 11x14 oil on linen. I was so excited to hear my name called as the winner of the Friends of Brooker Creek Award with this painting. It will be on display at the Heritage Museum until this weekend. Hope you get the chance to view all the works there this week.


Ibis in a Quiet Moment - Robin Popp.jpg

Where are Stacey and Clinton when you need them?

Starting the new year off with a BANG! My first show of the year was Art Festival Beth-El. An invitational fundraiser for Temple Beth-El in St. Petersburg, FL now it's 45th year. What an event! What an honor to be invited! My work was in the Boutique area because most of my boxes are smallish compared to the scale of the paintings in the main gallery. But small and intimate works are my comfort zone. I delivered the work a week prior to the show date, now I had to get ME ready to be seen.

This part of the project was a bit more challenging. The only things I had in my closet that were presentable were two pairs of slacks. One black, one gray, and one shirt that read "We Farm, You Eat". I didn't think the shirt would make the right statement, so off to the very strange and confusing world of clothes shopping. 

Remember that show, "What Not to Wear"? O, how I wished Stacey and Clinton would have jumped out of one of the clothes racks at Ross. Some people are good at this; I am not one of them. Nor do I pretend to be. "Focus on the color black," I told myself. "and just get something that will cover the top of you." I gave myself that goal and to stay away from the three-way mirror in the dressing room. Thankfully, I found several black upper garments that fit and were on sale. I still wasn't sure of my choices, so I took all of it to Mom's, along with every black shoe I could find in my closet, and she new what to do.

Mom went as my guest and we both arrived at the opening looking great! The first thing they said at the reception table was congratulations! I had won an award! Here's a picture of me next to the display of my work. Check out the red ribbon. Yes, I am wearing a non-black shirt. Mom ended up loaning me one after all.




New Year, New Possibilities!

The newness of this year is still making me smile. I feel like I'm shedding the skin of the old and my wings are just drying out, getting ready to flap for the first time. The only thing outwardly that has changed is the date. Now I write an "18" in the little space behind the "20" on my checks. But on the inside, I'm bubbling up with ideas for paintings and goals and questions about what to write down in my calendar. Can you believe I've already purchased five planners? This is not a good sign. Decisions have to be made, for crying out loud. If I can't decide on my planner, how am I going to decide which way to go in my artwork this year? I want to plein air paint, I want to assemble a still life, I want to paint a portrait, I want to make a collage, I want to teach a class. And I want to do it all next week. Seriously, I'm planning more art time this year. That's one of my goals. Another is to organize and simplify my stuff and my house so I can get more studio time. And, maybe the most important one, is to sing more. Just sing. Not on stage or anything. Just singing wherever I am. So you might just hear me from across the room. If you do, feel free to join in.