When I started painting 20 years ago, I had spent most of my life saying… “I am not an artist. I am a writer, but have no artistic ability.”
And then, on a whim and a desire to spend more time with my eldest daughter, I picked up a paint brush loaded with colour and fell in love.
Yesterday, as I sat at my studio worktable and debated whether to follow the guidelines of the online course I’m taking with Laura Horn or ‘just do it my way, I could hear the critter winding up his full-on, ‘You Can’t Do That’ diatribe in preparation for letting me have it, ‘the full truth and nothing but the truth about my artistic limitations. “You are not a watercolour artist,” he hissed. “You don’t even like working in watercolour. Why don’t you just skip the watercolour and play with your acrylic inks. It’s safer that way. You won’t be disappointed or look like a fool.”
The only way I know to quiet the critter is to breathe and acknowledge his fears.
“I hear you. I know you’re just trying to protect me but I’ve got this. I won’t know if I like them or not until I at least attempt to learn how to work with them. I’ve got this.”
The critter was not quite ready to call it quits. “You don’t got this! It’s bad enough you think you’re an artist but seriously… Well there are so many real artists out there who are so much better than you. They at least sell their work. You? You can’t even get it up onto your Etsy site so people can buy it.”
“Oh that’s what this is about? Not having my art up on my Etsy page?”
“Well you gotta admit Louise, you’re a bit of a disappointment there. Know what I mean?”
And a deep primordial fear awoke within me the longer I listened to the critter’s voice. “Oh no! I am a disappointment!”
I felt that fear. It felt so real. So tangible. So true.
And the the wise woman of care and courage whispered deep within me, “You are never and can never be a disappointment,” the wise woman of care and courage whispered deep within me. “What feels disappointing is when you do not give yourself grace to explore, test your boundaries, and use your mistakes to grow deeper in your understanding and communion with you, your life and the world around you.
I loaded my palette with watercolours and fell in love.
This morning I awoke from a dream vibrating with a deep awareness of all the lessons yesterday’s exploration of watercolour taught me.
And I smile in gratitude. Calling myself ‘an artist’ doesn’t mean I know it all or have all the answers or have even done it all or explored all the possibilities of my art-making. It means I’m open to the full and intoxicating exploration of my creative essence.
- Sometimes you just gotta load your fear up with a bunch of paint and let the colours play it out on the canvas of life.
- Just because you say you can’t doesn’t mean it’s true.
- Don’t believe everything you think.
- It’s okay to not know. You can’t learn all sides of the truth if you tell yourself you already know them all.
- Truth reveals itself slowly, like a rose coming into full-boom. It needs care and time, nature’s grace and a willingness to be surprised by what is coming into bloom so that it can evolve into its full beauty.
- Life is like your palette. Load it up with yummy colours. Mix them up to your heart’s content and let them dance with wild abandon on the canvas of your wildest dreams come alive in living colour.
- When you think you’ve gone as far as you dare, dare to go deeper.
- You are not, and can never be, a disappointment. End of story.
About the painting.
The following two photos are of the different stages of this painting where I wanted to quit.
At this one, I thought, “Oh. I like it. What if I mess it up?” Problem was… the lesson I was on called for botanicals and painting over the background… Breathing through my fear of messing it up, I dove deeper.
Hmmm…. This looks good. Why don’t I just leave it at this point?
And… I dove deeper.
I’m grateful I did. I learned a lot.
PS. As to my Etsy store… I’m going to work on loading it up and have it launched properly by September 15. That’s a commitment! To me.