Avoiding Studio Potholes

Insecurity can be overwhelming, after even a short hiatus from the studio. No matter how many weeks or years I've been painting, starting again after any break, seems to drop me into a self doubt pothole. Sometimes it would take days to get comfortable again and much emotional turmoil to climb out.

After not painting for a month, I wondered this morning, while sipping my morning Nespresso and procrastinating... Would I struggle today? Would that little devil sitting on my shoulder cause me to doubt myself? 

I made another cup of coffee, and then began as I always do. Sitting quietly and meditating. Focusing on my breadth, while not fighting against my mind which loves to flit from thought to thought. Then I spent a bit of time reading. Sometimes I leaf through some poetry books, read quotes from famous artist, or read a few pages from an artists' autobiography. Today, I picked up "There's a Hole in My Sidewalk" by Portia Nelson, and opened to this page, long since earmarked with a heavily creased and crumpled post-it note. 

An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost...
I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in...it's a habit
My eyes are open; I know where I am;
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

And after many falls in that deep hole in the sidewalk, I realized  today, after reading this, that I now walk down another street, and in this blog, I wanted to both celebrate and reflect on what is working for me.  

I really believe that honouring the beginning of each new work day has been deeply influential. The meditating and reading I do prior to painting, calls  upon my muse, then turning on the music and letting go of expectations, encourages her to stay a while. Today, I turned on some Sunshine Pop (that is an actual genre of music - I swear). Ignoring my "in progress" series (didn't even look at them)  I cut up some small sheets of oil paper, knowing that the small size of this inexpensive paper would allow me to paint without worrying about outcome. After squirting the colours I was curious about onto the palette, I began to play. 

No pressure, no consequences, I was just a little kid, painting at the kitchen table. Somehow, without intention, and still playfully, I began creating value, discovered interesting shapes, and made some playful marks.


What a relief!

All I know, all that I have learned, is still there. Nothing has been lost in the month I haven't painted. I had such fun and managed to stop before frustration could take hold. When my muse began to pack up, so did I. Tomorrow, I will look at the work more critically. Decide if there is something missing, and whether I can push them further. Ultimately, they may end up in the garbage, or they may inspire my next body of work. But those are tomorrow's concerns. Today, I had a great walk, with no potholes!