Sometimes you get a painting.

And sometimes you get an experience… and more opportunities to grow.

The inner voice

I sort of fumbled my way into this post. Something was nagging at me. You know that feeling, right?! All I had to do was sit down and unpack it. Writing usually helps. That inner voice, connected to the eternal voice, is always prompting us but sometimes we don’t want to quieten down and listen.

I felt that I wanted to speak about how we decide when to let an artwork go. When to stop working on it. And then I also happened to read a quote and a comment in a post this week that disquieted me.

The quote: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is considered resignation is confirmed desperation.” – Henry David Thoreau

The comment: “Mindset!”

I was trying to process how I felt about the quote because, to me, it sounds desperately sad. The comment suggests that we choose. But I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I think that quote means. And I am wondering, is everything about choice, about mindset? I still don’t know…

But it dovetailed with what I thought I was initially going to speak about. And the synchronicity is wonderful!

Over the past couple of weeks, months, actually, I’ve been doing a few studies of my plants. I love my plants! They truly make me happy. To me they are living companions. Sometimes I get an idea – a picture in my head – of what a painting will look like, or how I will approach it. Though they don’t always turn out that way!

During my Devotional Art Practice (DAP), in the morning, I had experimented with cutting line into the page and having darker pigment run into those crevices. It creates great line and texture. I decided to use that approach in my painting. The effect was interesting, but would have worked better with ink and watercolour paint, rather than acrylic.

Letting go

Still, I continued for several more hours. There came a point though when I felt this just wasn’t working. It was decision time. Do I keep labouring it because I’d already invested so much time and wanted it to work? Or do I let it end – die. I use this term because I just realised that when you finish a piece that works (is resolved), it’s not the end, but the birth of something new.

I decided. I took out my pot of white gesso paint and my roller… and I let it go.

While doing this I didn’t lament the time or energy spent, criticise myself for being inadequate, tell myself that I can’t actually really paint, etc., etc. I thought about what I had learned during the process. What had worked and what hadn’t? And I started to think about how I could approach the next painting differently. I also thought about how this new surface would make a great start for another artwork. For me, it’s always important to note whether I worked with integrity or not. That I didn’t go through some half-arsed practice.

I guess that’s mindset.  

How did we approach what we were doing? What choices did we make? Everything is an experience. Not all experiences are pleasurable – for sure! But what influence did they have on our life. And will we keep going, growing, hoping and believing that there is more, different and sometimes even better?

Experiences inform other choices

I wish I could feel this way all the time, and in all areas of my life. Yet what we learn in one place slowly transfers, seeps and leaks through. Yoga is also a new practice and experience every day. And all the variables we experience including, focus, perseverance, steadfastness, surrender, gentleness, etc., also start spilling, seeping and leaking through into the other areas of our life. 

What is your mindset when it comes to creating? Have you thought about it? How do you speak to yourself? Do you speak differently when you sit quietly…and really listen?

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