I Forgot How to Paint!




There is this idea that when an artist begins a painting, they know exactly what to do. Sometimes that is true. But very often, especially after being away from the studio for awhile, or when learning something new, it is not uncommon that approaching the canvas is like diving off a cliff. Like, what the heck do I do now? Where am I? Who do I think I am to do this? Doubt enters the room, waves a magic wand over the entire studio freezing movement, thought & inspiration. Think I'm kidding? If they're honest, every artist knows this place. I'm a therapist & I could probably analyze this but that would be my way of avoiding the obvious: put paint on the canvas. I'm writing about this today because just yesterday I was in my studio doing some homework for a class I am taking. Yeh, Doubt entered the studio & camped out the entire time I was there. Would not budge. I painted & painted, wiped off my panel about 3X then went home. Ugh. Here's the secret to getting Doubt to move out of the way: PLAY. Yep, don't do anything serious. Just pick up a panel & fool around. Make every panel a "throw-away board". That's when amazing things happen. Doubt pops in & shouts, "Then why are you taking classes you fake!" Geez, Doubt is relentless. The answer to that is in every profession, professionals continue learning, expanding their skills, working with other professionals and pushing their work. If they don't do this in some fashion, formal or informal, their work stagnates. So I arch my back, stand tall, look Doubt right in the eye and say, "You just don't understand so go somewhere else today. I'm sweeping the studio floor and pushing you in the dust bin where you belong. You don't belong here. Begone, damn spot! Next step: forget the day's lessons and retrieve the playful spirit; make some marks. Celebrate. Go home, satisfied.


I'm always interested in what other artists do with Doubt. Chime in; let me know. Let's share with each other to defeat this ghostly beast.

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