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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do You Tie Yourself in Knots?




I do it all the time. I stress over a project or painting and feel I’m not up to the task. Before I know it, I’ve tied myself into a bundle of nervous insecurity.

Oh, I know the drill. I’ve read all the self-help books, spouted the mantras and prayers, and given myself the countless pep talks geared to pull you from a tail spin. But I’m also an expert on dismissing them.

Take my latest painting. Remember the little girl playing dress-up in her mother’s clothes? I’ve been avoiding it like the plague. I had so much going on in my mind that I wanted to do with the painting that I became overwhelmed with the details. So I took it to my art league last week; truly feeling inadequate for the job.

Work in Progress -- Playing Dress Up

Thanks to a team of like-minded artists who gave me a pep talk and an intellectual kick in the butt, I regained the necessary “spunk,” if you will, to continue this enormous task.

One of my favorite artists on facebook is Suzi Kahler of “It’s all in the details.” She thrives on painting and detailing even the smallest items. When she’s finished, her paintings never look too busy because she skillfully weaves every detail into her plan. Aha! My first clue: taking time to relax, reassess and plan.

Sometimes pressures of time and urgency drive us into forging ahead when we’re not ready. A painting is like fine wine. It needs to age and mellow for awhile in our mind’s eye before we can see our image clearly enough to define it on canvas.

I’m not knocking “going with the flow” and the feeling of the moment. But before that happens, we need to have a sense of what it is we want to accomplish. Sure it’s vital to open ourselves up to surprises and inspiration, but we must stay grounded in the things we’ve already learned. Knowledge and experience are the foundation that allow your brush and your imagination to soar.


I found some old drawings and sketches I had tucked away. I was amazed at how good they were for such quick studies. I decided to upload the one you see above to my online gallery. Much to my surprise, the charcoal sketch titled “Through Her Eyes” was featured in one of the groups.

The elderly woman is looking forward as she must, but her alter-ego is also looking backward at where’s she been and what she’s accomplished (good advice when you’re feeling insecure). It’s not a perfect sketch by any means; but it shows that with a little knowledge and experience under your belt, your mind, heart, and hand can work together to achieve much more than you think.

So next time you tie yourself in unrealistic knots. Step back and re-evaluate where you’ve been and what you’ve achieved before pressing forward. You might be surprised at the end result!