More than Starting a NEW Painting

    It’s been a long time since I’ve painted, too long actually. So getting back at it is about much more than just starting a new painting — it’s about restarting a studio practice and putting the feelings of guilt, fear, and not being enough behind me.

    Most of all, it’s a renewed commitment to what makes me happiest. You know, besides spending time with Hubby, family, and friends. I feel like I have to put that out there, or I’ll unintentionally offend someone and not get invited to the next birthday party or bonfire. Cake, ice cream, beer, and fire — don’t want to miss out on any of those opportunities!

    The start of Black-eyed Susans oil painting, 6×6 in.
    Painting is NOT like riding a bike.

    It’s much more like a muscle. A muscle that can quickly become accustomed to life on the sidelines, getting all weak and flabby. One that simply loses its memory — if muscles have memories? Well, not actual memories…but they tell athletes to develop muscle memory, so there must be something to it.

    Anyway, you know how a muscle hurts when you start using it again, but after a while, it’s stronger, and you don’t even think about it because it’s just doing its thing? That’s where I am. Not the stronger, show off the new muscles in a bikini stage but rather the “Holly hell it hurts to sit down” phase.

    So today was about getting paint on the canvas and starting — knowing (and excepting) it’s not going to be a good painting. It’s most likely going to suck! 

    There will come the point when I’ll want to wipe the paint off the canvas and tell myself, “Give it up. You’re a joke.” (my inner critic is quite the meany). But I’m going to push through those moments and keep moving forward — reminding myself of what lies ahead.

    I know it’s going to be a while before I unexpectedly slip into the “zone” — a blissful place where nothing exists except the subject I’m painting and the brush in my hand. (Sigh) In the meantime, I’m reminding myself that I’ll get there. The muses will visit again; I’m eagerly looking forward to them popping by. But, I need to be at the easel working, with a brush in my hand, or they’ll pass right on by.

    You can read the follow-up to starting this painting in the post, That went Better than I Thought


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    1. Nancy, do I ever relate to this! I haven’t had the strength of will enough to even visit my studio recently, much less to actually be creative. I think what I do is quite similar to your painting in that it really IS a muscle that needs constant attention. Thanks, your article is just the kick in the pants I need and I appreciate you. Time for me to exercise that muscle. (BTW, the black eyed Susans painting definitely doesn’t suck. I really dig it.)

      1. Thanks for this Chris! It means so much coming from you. When you feel ready, go in and play for a little bit. 🙂

    2. This is so nice, Nancy. I think many, many artists can identify right now. I have a feeling she’s quiet now that she’s seen you haven’t lost your touch! All the best.

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