Leafing Out – Lessons from the canvas

Leafing Out — Mixed media on canvas – 10 x 10″

I find some transitions hard.

Like going from autumn to winter. Here in Alberta it can happen in less than a day, just as spring can pop out and then be burdened again with snow. Some days, like this morning when Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I went for our walk, I’m not prepared for the sudden leap backwards from 22C (72F) yesterday to 3C (37F) this morning – my hands were really cold!

Another transition I find challenging is moving from working in my art journal to a canvas. My mind starts chattering about how ‘There are rules when painting on a canvas.” “A canvas can’t be wasted.” “Make it good.” “Don’t mess up.” “This isn’t as much fun…’

Which is what happened when I went back to working on a painting I’d begun a couple of weeks ago in preparation for an art show I’m in next month.

The under-painting

I had an idea of what it ‘should’ be. Big pops of colourful flowers on the background of smaller flowers I’d already painted.

I worked hard to make my vision come into reality.

But it just wasn’t happening. I felt stiff. Confined. Like it was all just turning to muck and mud.

I took a breath. Stepped back. Made myself a cup of tea and contemplated what was going on.

It wasn’t that the painting was awful. It was that my mindset was full of ‘stinkin thinkin’.

I was getting caught up in my expectations of how it should be, versus allowing whatever was seeking to appear to find its way into expression.

I wasn’t letting it be. I was trying to make it become…

And that’s why I was feeling so frustrated and uncomfortable. That’s why the critter was prattling on about how I couldn’t paint. How I wasn’t good enough. How my art sucked.

To find my inner knowing/intuitive self, I had to shut off my thinking mind and get into my ‘belly brain’. I needed to allow myself to sink deep into my body so that I could be present with the process instead of trying to force it into what I was trying to make it become.

It was a great lesson.

Getting stuck in your head. Dousing yourself in self-judgement. Self-criticism. Self-harshness and a desire to control the outcome all play a role in limiting joy, self-expression, creativity and passion.

To live life fully I must release myself from expectations. I must let go of the outcome to fall deeply into the process of being alive in this moment. Right now. Unfolding in all its ineffable mystery.

When I hold on too tightly to the outcome, I lose sight of where I am, what I’m doing, how I’m being in this moment right now.

I’m pretty sure spring leaves don’t tell the tree, I’ll only leaf out if I can be 3 inches long, two inches wide and a certain green hue. And they definitely don’t say, “Oh. And I’ll only unfurl if you promise to not make me turn orange and fall later in the season.” They leaf out fully immersed in the journey of leafing out.

To be fully immersed in my life, I must release my need to control the journey and throw myself with wild abandon into each moment unfurling in the deep unfathomable mystery of life.



9 thoughts on “Leafing Out – Lessons from the canvas

  1. Geez, Louise, you know what you would say to someone else sound stuck like that, right? Build a bridge and get over it! … or, don’t sweat the small stuff – because it’s all small stuff. You are a writer. You are a painter. Write. Paint. They aren’t all going to be instant masterpieces. There is a possibility we’ll have some spring snow to cover those flowers, but the sun will come out, melt the snow and make the flowers brighter – as your art does every time you send us some more.

    Please send information on details of the art show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL — actually Mark — I wouldn’t! That phrase, ‘get over it’ is, in my world, not particularly helpful. In my experience, especially through coaching, I find that most people would build a bridge if they weren’t stuck — the being stuck is what is preventing them from moving forward… 🙂
      For me, when someone is stuck I would ask, tell me about being stuck. What does that feel like? Look like for you? What can you do differently?
      Somtimes, all we need is for someone to hear us, acknowledge where we’re at…
      which is why I write about my own process of getting unstuck. I’m always curious about it…
      And yes, there will be snow on the spring flowers and the sun will shine and I will keep making art and being curious about where I’m at throughout the process and sharing and being grateful for your presence on this journey as well as others as you always add a different light and help me gain clarity!

      And… the art show info is here: https://www.valesgreenhouse.com/art_show.html

      It is one of the prettiest art shows around because it’s in Vale’s greenhouses — the art is surrounded by beautiful plants — it’s stunning!


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