On being a doer, and an attribute portrait in progress

original oil painting in progress: woman with macbook air
Woman with MacBook Air (work in progress), 80 x 60 cm, oil on canvas, ©2011 Julie Galante

I am loving my current project, a big series of portraits with modern technology attributes. The first four or five portraits should be complete and up on my website within a week or so. My goal is to have at least twelve finished by the end of August. This will be a stretch, but I’m optimistic that I can make it work.

I started thinking about people I call ‘stallers’ and ‘doers’ during a recent meeting with my creative group. I have met a lot of creative people in my life. The big difference between those who are wildly successful and those who aren’t has very little to do with talent or the quality of the work they’re capable of; the difference usually lies between stallers and doers. Stallers can have great artistic talent, but that doesn’t really matter, because they don’t produce much art. What they do produce, few people see. And when it comes to pursuing ways to show or sell their art? Forget it. Stallers are too busy coming up with excuses to take advantage of opportunities that fall in their lap, much less opportunities that they themselves create.

Doers, on the other hand, are less talk and more action. Their artwork gets shown because they find places to show it. Their novels get published because they go out and find publishers. Their freelance careers are flush with business because they hang out their shingles and find ways to attract clients. I love doers. Stallers make me kind of crazy.

In my creative group, we have both kinds of people. The doers set themselves bi-weekly and yearly goals that are ambitious but attainable, and then they go out and exceed these goals with infectious enthusiasm. The stallers set goals that are theoretically easy to reach, but they won’t achieve them anyway. The one thing they produce that is elaborate and thought-out is their list of excuses.

The good news is this: stallers can absolutely become doers. Most of us have probably gone through a period of being a staller in our lives. What matters is how long we let it go on. I have definitely spent time as a staller, but today I’m a doer.

Are you a staller or a doer?

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7 Responses to “On being a doer, and an attribute portrait in progress”

  1. Frau Dietz says:

    Wow, Julie, I love this idea (and the painting! – especially the expression on her face, she looks so far away her laptop might just slip out of her hands). I love the painting’s title as well.

    I am very envious of you being able to churn fab stuff out like this… I desperately need to find an outlet for my creativity!
    Frau Dietz recently posted..Friendly Friday: Deutschland über Elvis

  2. Jul says:

    Thanks, Frau Dietz! I usually name my portraits after the people in them, but for this series I think it’s the technology that will get named.

    Regensbloggerin does an excellent job of modeling in this one, doesn’t she?

    Blogging is a good creative outlet, but sounds like you need something more. How about a painting class? Didgeridoo lessons? Underwater basket weaving? Synchronized swimming? Shoot, suddenly painting is starting to feel too ordinary…

  3. Nutan says:

    I’ve definitely made the turn from being a staller to becoming a doer with the help of the group. I’m a little afraid of what might happen if I stop going to the meetings or if the group falls apart (or worse yet, gets overtaken by stallers). Gotta stop stalling now…
    Nutan recently posted..Bamboo! It never ceases to amaze me.

  4. Christine says:

    Many past creatives never saw success in their lifetime-their work was “discovered” or appreciated only after they were gone and it wasn’t necessarily for lack of trying that they weren’t popular in their time.

    And what about those people who don’t really care about being wildly successful in their creative endeavors – where do they fall in your description of “stallers” and “doers”? If you are expressing your creativity merely to cultivate and explore the creative self and not to produce an end commercial product, you might not care about bi-weekly timelines and might appear to “stall” when it is really just working through a difficult creative process.

    I hear you and agree with your premise of “stallers” and “doers” to a point – if you want to be successful with your art, stop whining and get busy…. but I also have to wonder whether any one person can define another’s “means to an end” in the creative journey…..

    Love the newest work BTW ;-)

  5. Jul says:

    Nutan – I love your enthusiasm and all the projects you have going! Don’t worry – we’ll never let the stallers take over. :)

  6. Jul says:

    Christine – Thanks for making me think. Your words are in quotes, with my responses below them:

    “Many past creatives never saw success in their lifetime-their work was ‘discovered’ or appreciated only after they were gone and it wasn’t necessarily for lack of trying that they weren’t popular in their time.”
    Trying does not come with a guarantee of success. But not trying almost always comes with a guaranteed lack of success.

    “And what about those people who don’t really care about being wildly successful in their creative endeavors – where do they fall in your description of “stallers” and “doers”?”
    Am I a staller because I never practice ballet? Of course not, because I have no interest in becoming a ballet dancer. Am I a staller because I’m not working towards becoming a world-famous chef? Nope, I’m plenty happy with my current level of culinary creativity, and I enjoy cooking as a hobby. A staller is unsatisfied with her current progress on her creative path, and she is the single biggest obstacle on that path. Also, stallers usually know they are stalled (although they might put up a fight when confronted with the idea that they have control of the situation).

    “If you are expressing your creativity merely to cultivate and explore the creative self and not to produce an end commercial product, you might not care about bi-weekly timelines and might appear to “stall” when it is really just working through a difficult creative process.”
    Two separate issues here. First, if you’re happy with your current creative self’s output, then good for you; no one’s trying to say you need to do more. Second, if you’re actually “working through a difficult creative process,” then you’re working (ie, not stalling). Not actually working? Then this is just another excuse on the pile. Stop buying into the myth of the tortured blocked creative, and start doing.

    “I also have to wonder whether any one person can define another’s ‘means to an end’ in the creative journey…..”
    Absolutely defining your own creative path is your prerogative. But if you come to me unhappy with your low level of creative output and then deliver a whole pile of excuses, I’m going to call you a staller. And then I’m going to kick you in the ass and tell you to start making better choices. :-P

  7. Kevin Sushka says:

    I love your write up as well!! Mi piace! I remember the movie The Natural, about that talented guy who went thru a baseball slump. Your write up is wonderfully complex…and your painting of the woman with the notebook mythically dreamy and simple. Humankind and the computer! What next?

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