PAINTING OVER THE STALE BITS
I had a large, unfinished painting hanging on my studio wall for over a year. 15 months, to be exact. I don’t know why I never moved it; every time I looked at it I cringed a little. I’m not trying to be hard on myself, it’s just the reality; the painting was not in good shape. The colors: so bad. It was just in this state where I didn’t know what to do with it. So it sat there. I wish I had a photo of it to show you. Each time I finished a smaller painting while sitting at the table in my studio right next to the wall where this hung, I’d smear a bit of leftover paint onto it in one area or another. I mean, why not? It already looked terrible.
Yesterday I went downstairs to start my daily animal painting. Instead, I looked at the canvas, still hanging on the wall, and I couldn’t look at it for one more second. I squeezed out some paint and just started going to town on it. Painting over the terrible colors and everything that I didn’t like about it. 20 minutes later, it looked like this:
Far from finished, but SO much better! It felt so good!
It’s funny, I know that painting over old and stale work is an invigorating and exciting way to breathe some new life into my creative process, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me with this one. Until all of a sudden it did. And I remembered how good it feels. Refreshing. Exciting. A relief.
I’ve been feeling afraid, I think, lately to work on larger paintings … making excuses for myself like “I don’t have time, because of the baby”, “I should be working on something more ‘sell-able'”, and so on.
But I reminded myself yesterday that painting doesn’t need to take a lot of time. It can be done in 20 minute chunks. Or 5, or 10, or however many minutes I happen to have. I mean, why not? Who makes the rules anyway? (I do!)
I read something that Elizabeth Gilbert wrote on her Facebook page yesterday that struck a chord with me. Apparently a lot of people have emailed her the past 10 years since she wrote Eat Pray Love about how it was so selfish of her to go on a year-long spiritual journey in order to find happiness. Can you even imagine writing an email like that to someone? Is the point of this life not to find JOY, so we can radiate that joy outward and hopefully inspire others to find their own joy? How is trying to be the best version of yourself selfish?? Anyway, don’t get my started on that.
What I love is that Elizabeth said she is officially done answering these questions about selfishness that she receives. Because she says she has much bigger and more important things to discuss. AMEN to that, I say!
And what it made me realize is that I spend a lot of time being mean to myself, comparing myself to other artists and creatives and people in general, spending time on unimportant stuff. What a waste of time. I have more important thing to do, to create!
I don’t know what the point of all this is. But for some reason it felt important to write. I have fallen out of the habit of blogging (waaaaay out of it; I used to post here every single day!), and I am remembering that it’s so helpful for me to get my thoughts out in writing like this. It’s like it helps cement my thoughts, where otherwise they just float around my head and out my ears and swirl back in and out again, and nothing every changes. Writing help me change. Grow.
So here I am! Writing. Painting over the stale parts. Starting over. A new version of me, but also the same as ever. That’s comforting. No matter what I try to change, I’ll still be me forever. I can safely re-imagine it all. I make the rules! I have much bigger and better things to do than judging, comparing, making excuses.
Don’t we all?