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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fear... a very effective paralysing agent. I have been in the studio fairly regularly, but haven't painted since before Christmas, and the reason was... fear. I began a painting six months or so ago, and was unhappy with it, so, after living with it for a while, to see what it wanted to say, I added some background colour. And it sat there, not finished, but not bad enough to scrap, and I have been afraid to touch it. Afraid is a strong word, but it is correct nonetheless. I knew that it needed something, but I didn't know what it was, and I was afraid that if I did something to it, I would ruin it. In any case, I didn't know if it was a good painting, or not. I was afraid that it wasn't. Those fears, compounded, had me frozen. On Saturday, though, I defrosted myself. I reminded myself that there is no right, and no wrong, in making a decision, whether it is about art, business or anything else you might care to mention. We have choices, and the way to make a decision is to establish what choices you have, and , accepting the likely outcomes of each one for good or ill, select one. Then, all you have to do is do whatever it is you have chosen to do.

In the case of this painting, made in oils, it was a coating of an interesting dark turquoise colour. That, and turning the image round from where I had it, which changed the meaning in my head. I had made the piece to reflect how I felt at the time I painted it, and called it 'Blue'; the first image shows a section of the original painting, during the addition of the turquoise. Suddenly, this piece was another 'Inner Landscape', called 'Under The Surface', and the second image shows the completed piece. Since taking that original photograph, I have removed some of the turquoise, to allow stronger flashes of colour to show through, and will take another photograph of it in better light when it is finished(the light on Saturday was not good...).

It may not be the best painting in the world; it may not be the best painting I've ever made, come to think of it. But it expresses something (in fact, it expresses more than I had originally intended), and I like it. Better still, I want to paint some more, and have more ideas; I was beginning to think I might never paint again . I'm very glad I was wrong! So, if you are stuck as I was, ask yourself, what are you afraid of? Consider your choices, select one and do the work. That's all it takes. It's just a pity we forget that so regularly. When I coach people, it's one of the things I help them to do, to make choices, and live with the consequences. Usually those consequences are relatively small, on the scale of things, a finished painting, an idea turned into reality, a letter written. Everything is easier with a bit of help... and sometimes you need someone else's input to get moving. But either way, ask yourself, what's the worst thing that could possibly happen, for each of the options. Usually the worst possible outcomes are no worse than the feeling you have of being stuck, in my experience. So what do you have to lose? Go make a choice, or two. Why not start now?


Unknown said...

this is a timely read for me. lately i've been experiencing something in my work that i recently concluded boils down to fear. having been creating as much due to fear of disappointment (from myself) of what i'll produce...or something like that. it's a very new and strange feeling for me, but now that i've determined the cause of the feeling, i believe i can tackle it and get things done!

i like the painting and the title you gave it. the first version was quite nice, but i think the blue was a nice touch..takes it to a new level.

Lenox Knits said...

Great post! I have been in a bit of a creative slump lately too. I have let myself get into a bit of rut and haven't come up with many inspiring designs lately. I've been getting some new supplies to experiment with and hopefully that will get the creative juices flowing again.

AltheaP said...

Great post, Marion. Sometimes you have to "live" with someone for a while before you know how to proceed on it.

Scentful Indulgence said...

It was meant for me to read this post today. Yesterday was such a yucky day for me and yes fear is the main reason. Thanks for giving such wisdom, common sense wisdom to us.

debsmuddle said...

Such good advice.I seem to live in fear of something not quite sure what though

Pamela Baker said...

In a wellness class I worked with, we called this getting "unstuck". As you have well taught us, we are all in this position of being "stuck". Yes, probably it is fear that blocks our thinking process. In the business world, we all know if we have a project that has to get out, we do it immediately. Yet, somehow in the artistic world we are dealing with ourselves, our feelings, our self-doubts, reality - these are things that we often don't understand within ourselves. We need to believe in our self and whatever project it is. Once we find the belief, the inner self will begin to emerge, and the artist in us takes over. Glad you have found that inner feeling and became "unstuck".

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Good post Marion---all artists live with a *fear* of something.
This year I have been making a conscious effort to be in the studio daily, whether sewing on something I don't like, or painting, making something I really DO like. I have found the balance of being required to do other things has helped push the fear away when I paint, because it is now a treat! It doesn't matter if it is right or wrong, it is what it IS in the moment, and generally, that is making me happy.
Artists that work in multiple media are lucky in some ways; we sort of shift from one mode to the other, and then the muse from one of the other medias comes knocking and we can't wait to finish whatever we have to. (i.e. paying work)
This has been sufficient encouragement that I am going to put together an online class to work one on one with people and teach the basics of how I get my canvas surfaces and color before collage. I am looking forward to that.....BUT! There is fear because I have not done it before.
Maybe fear is what keeps us going...I don't know. In small amounts, it serves a purpose.

Unknown said...

Great post Marion. I think that getting stuck is such a frustration, and figuring out the reasons is sometimes harder than waiting out the "slump." But your thoughts have given me a lot to think about, and I agree - overcoming fear is often what is required to get past a Big Block.

And, fwiw, I love the paintings!

Sadia said...

It's very true what you have written; I often get stuck be it a acrylic based landscape or Digital art and the only solution seems like restarting all over again but then perseverence wins.