Sunday, June 9, 2013

Unleashing true self

Yesterday morning found both my husband and me on ferries: mine to Edmonds, to drop off paintings for the upcoming Arts Festival; his to Seattle to pick up a sick daughter and bring her to our local walk-in clinic.

So I had lots of free time to think -- or at least to watch my thoughts and where they took me -- and what I observed was discouragement and negativity.  Which should be surprising: after all, I'd just opened a show the night before and would be attending another opening this evening.  And I'd been cast in a play to be aired later this summer.  You'd think I'd be feeling pretty good about myself.

Well then I began observing my energy levels, and realized they were quite low: there were lots of things I could do, given I'd have the house to myself for most of the day, and I didn't feel like tackling any of them.  Clearly I was blocked somewhere.  But where?

Eventually it became apparent that at least some of the root of the problem was that I'd done three paintings over the course of the week, and wasn't really comfortable with any of them.  Two I'd started with a definite vision, and in neither case was I able to realize that vision.  The third had been purely experimental, but I'd somehow gotten attached to the experiment and didn't feel like adding anything more to it-- but I was also convinced that anyone else looking at it would deem it unfinished.  Clearly my self-critical voices were having a heyday -- and, equally clearly, I was having trouble with both fear and attachment: attachment to bits and pieces of what I HAD managed to accomplish, and fear of moving forward, fear I couldn't really paint, fear there was no possibility of redeeming these three paintings, fear that in trying to finish them I might lose whatever value had been created early on.

So I decided to take the worst of the three paintings, a very ambitious diptych created from two ginormous 15" x 48" canvases I'd gotten for super cheap at a going-out-of-business sale, and just -- paint over it. I abandoned all my previous expectations, grabbed a giant house-paint-sized brush, and just tackled it as a complete do-over, determined to boldly paint through (and over) my timid earlier efforts. And I love the results: my mood improved a hundred percent as I watched this one bloom and saw how the strong bits of the previous attempt showed through and the timid bits all disappeared.  It feels a bit like all the little naysayers inside stepped aside for a bit, and the strong true self in me was unleashed onto the canvas.

Now if only I could carry that kind of assurance out into other parts of my life...

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