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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Finding your own way in a crowded marketplace

"Reggae Night" acrylic on canvas
In case you haven't noticed, I took some time off from painting this past year. I did a few fun things, personal projects; but for the most part, I stayed away from painting sessions with my art league and the usual mad dash of competitions and shows except for those already scheduled. I needed space and time (plus I had 1 wedding and 4 funerals).

I felt I was placing quantity over quality. The pressure was piling on, and in order to meet deadlines, I was slapping paint without experiencing the joy. There were still a few things on my to-do list that I wanted to complete, and a few old canvases that I painted over. But for the most part, I laid my brushes aside.

I’m trying to reassess what direction I want my creative energies to take. I want to enjoy what I’m doing more and not take myself or my journey so seriously. If success comes in the process of seeking, I’ll be happy. If it doesn’t, then I’ve enjoyed the ride.

"Prayer Circles, mixed media on canvas
Success and achievement require sweat, blood and tears, but if we aren’t having a good time it shows in the end product. Balance is the key, and I felt I was off balance spending too much time in social media and promotion, and not enough time on inspiration and soul searching. I needed to explore my weaknesses and strengths, and what I wanted to accomplish.

Joy must be a part of the creative life or our “children,” our babies suffer. Cranking out paintings for the sake of producing something that may or may not sell is a losing battle. There’s a difference between honing your skills every day in the act of fusing your passion and love or just going through the motions because “you’re supposed to.”

Waiting for inspiration is not the answer either. It’s an excuse. The fear of failure can shake us to the core and cause us to “seize up” in a nervous frenzy. In order to create, we must be in the moment and love the simple pleasures of applying paint to canvas regardless of whether the painting brings us success or not.

Playing to the judges or the critics doesn’t cut it. If we manipulate the thought process to satisfy others without the passion, the result may be a skilled piece of work that is flat and lifeless.

"Fish Market" mixed media on canvas
In a local publication called: “Inside Gateway-Colonial,” I read an article in their Lifestyle section titled “Simple Ways to Find Deeper Meaning” Unlock what’s inside – passion, individuality, community – to connect with what’s important by BPT News Service.

The author said “A new movement is emerging, where people are pausing to find deeper meaning in everyday life. . . The theory goes that if a person recognizes and nurtures those activities they love most, they are better able to do what they’re great at in the world. . . Rather than getting swept away in a hectic schedule, try focusing on what truly matters.”

I realized that I was focusing on what mattered to the judges, to people in my art circles, and to the critics, rather than to my own gut feelings. I was allowing my insecurities to rule rather than my strengths.

In the busyness of doing, I’d lost touch with myself and what was important to me. I was blind to the things that make me unique and different. I was trying to ape what I thought others wanted instead of listening to my own drum beat. Sometimes we have to be willing to make mistakes in order to forge ahead in new and uncharted territory.

"India Rising -- the Lost" mixed media on canvas