Friday, April 1, 2016

Ebb & Flow

April's Mini Painting Giveaway

Winner is Carlos Herrera. Congratulations Carlos!!!

It seems like a daily challenge as an artist to actually make art! Ironic since it is our very job and since we chose the must be in our nature... to make it. Yes?  I am sure that I am not alone in that, however that may be, I seem to have a resistance to actually doing the work.  Some people seem to us to be super human and  above these lowly commoner feelings (wink), but I guarantee you they are not, but maybe they have developed better tools to make the load a little lighter.  I think everyone struggles with this to a certain degree and some wind up paralyzed and like a dusty forgotten book on a shelf, rotting in isolation, never having the chance to fulfill their purpose.  What's underneath this green goblin is of course the usual suspects: fear of failure/rejection and a biological disdain for discomfort.  So how do people move past these issues to become champions, the best in their field or just productive enough to not feel like shit about themselves?  My personal experience has been that I must accept that this is a daily fight and that it is part of being human.  I am not exempt from being human. It's in our nature to have fears, doubts, disappointments and jealousy. 

So the first step, I think, is to show some compassion and understanding for yourself. After all this is the person who is trying to protect you from pain, embarrassment and wants you to fit in so you don't get clobbered by criticism.  It's just trying to do it's job.

Step #2   is while acknowledging this part of yourself and not shaming yourself for it, you must develop a plan to deal with it.  I know that when I give in to this side and don't create, the next day  will be even harder and I walk with a heavier chain of shame and regret. If this is you, and you have 100 links of chain of regret and shame of not creating then I beg you to forgive yourself and give yourself a NEW beginning.

Part of my plan is that I write down what my biggest triggers are for inaction and then I write what I will do when this happens to take action.  So for example,
  • Trigger: Jealousy. 
  • Result: Hopeless and don't want to make art. 
  • Cause: Fear that I am not enough. 
  •  Actions: 1. Find 3 people to compliment and appreciate their efforts. 2. Examine my own history and actions and thank myself for all that I have done. Appreciate the hard work I have put in.

Step #3   Say YES to pain.  One way to build up your pain tolerance is to keep experiencing it. Every time you push through pain and realize that you are not going to die from it, you get a little bit stronger. It doesn't get easier, but you will get stronger. Yes, just accept that it never gets easier.  One way I have integrated this is my life is by taking action immediately. Part of doing the sunrise paintings is that I am immediately dealing with this problem as soon as I wake up.  I don't give myself time to think. I wake up, make coffee, get in the car and go paint. Immediately, I am saying to myself you are a creator and today you will create. 
Self Talk Tactics.  Another thing I like to do is, self talk. So I will literally say, "Let's do it!", "Bring it on!" "Bring on the pain!" "I'm willing to fail!" "I'm ready to suck!". "Let's do it!" "Let's get it started!"  Yes, you feel kind of silly - but it changes your state of mind.  Then, immediately move into action after this.  Sometimes for me, it's actually jumping in the car to do a plein air sketch and setting up a simple still life right away.

Their are periods when the struggle is harder and I find being an artist so hard....then because our bodies and minds have to change...(Enter the song Spinning Wheel....You know the song, what goes up must come down....).......the next period is followed by almost a euphoria or enlightenment of "What was my problem?" This is so easy!  Don't be fooled by the latter, the former will show up again. I'm not trying to be pessimistic, again just saying that this is the natural ebb and flow. Your awareness of that ebb and flow can help you to get through the ebb and enjoy the flow but realizing that the ebb must follow it.

Happy Painting Everyone!!!!!!!  Wishing you all much success!

My favorite books are:

The Art of war
The Art spirit
The Artist's way - Daily
The Tools - by Phil Stutz & Barry Michels

Some of my Take Action paintings while I was in Ebb. :)


  1. This is so true, Kelli..I know this struggle guite well!! I've begun to allow myself to fail and pick myself back up and push past the feeling of inadequacy.. Yes, making art is a personal struggle at times...but that's the ebb and flow of it as you stated.

    1. That's awesome Richard! Keep going. :)

  2. You're definitely not alone, I struggle daily, but I've been doing art every day for over three years now and haven't missed a day, it doesn't get easier either, especially when I try to increase my daily art time. Brian Johnson's Youtube channel has helped me tremendously recently, and he has reviewed at least on book on your list. I love this channel and it really helps me deal with troubles in motivation.

    1. Thanks Chris! Yes I love Brian's work. I am actually a member of his program for the $10 a month. I've been listening to him for a couple of years now and finally signed up because I wanted to support his efforts. Someone who is really fulfilling their purpose in helping others.

  3. Kelli, You just summarized my thought process completely! Self-loathing on days when i don't make the effort to paint; a sense of satisfaction and self-awareness when i do paint - especially if it yields a decent painting! thank you for your blog. it's a true bright light! :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.