It’s September 14, 2014 and that’s my date to share how I face the blank canvas. I’ve been reading my fellow cohorts posts on the subject and I’m so amazed by all the ways we have as individuals to face that blank canvas and make something where there was nothing.
Long before I was ever anything even resembling a visual artist, I was a writer and writer’s block is not very much different from ‘canvas block’. We talk, as writers, about the muse and inspiration as though it is a lover we must woo so that our work can continue. I hear artists using very similar language.
Here’s the thing, though: inspiration is not, as we might come to believe, a fickle, fleeting power. I know that’s akin to blasphemy, but after twenty plus years of creative practice, I know this to be true. Inspiration can be fostered. It can be kept simmering on the back burner, ready at any moment to be doled out in doses that are appropriate to our projects.
Creative practice, intentional, structured, even *COUGH* disciplined is the way to ensure that whenever you meet the canvas, inspiration joins you in your creative endeavours.
Here’s what my practice looks like:
I make art regularly and before I do, I have a little ritual that includes lighting a candle, using some sage smudge to clear my space and mind, sitting my butt down in my chair, and picking a colour – either paint or paper – to begin working with. I keep going until I’m happy, even if that means I have to come back to it later. I do this several times a week (sometimes for work related projects, sometimes for pleasure related projects) and it *never, ever fails me*.
The hardest part for a lot of us is beginning. I remember this from my writing days, and it was definitely true of my early painting days. Staring down that blank page or canvas is intimidating! Especially when you have absolutely no idea what it is you’re about to create.
So, I stopped worrying about that. The what will take care of itself. All that’s required of me is that I show up on a regular basis, and pick a colour. Boom. Things start to happen. Paintings come into being. Blank canvas turns to inner landscape revealed for the world to see.
Another practice that keeps me creating without worrying overly much about the outcome (which is, let’s face it, the most intimidating part of painting) is trusting my every instinct. If I find myself feeling like a particular symbol or word belongs in the painting, I don’t worry about how it will look in the end. I put it in there. I trust it. I create it. If I lose it in the process of creation, I consider it an ingredient in what made the painting what it is. It may only be partially visible. It may not be visible at all. But dropping it in there is as important to the painting as the finishing details that make a painting a work of art.
It sounds easy, and at the core of it, it is:
Show up with intention.
Pick a colour.
Obey every instinct.
Actually mastering this process takes work. It takes making time to put your behind in the chair. It takes your willingness to make crap and keep pushing through until it isn’t crap anymore.
Nike has it right. Just do it. Do it with intention. Do it with courage (which is not fearlessness, but rather, going for it despite the fear). Do it with abandon.
The blank canvas doesn’t stand a chance!
I am so grateful that you stopped by to read! As a reward, I’d like to offer one lucky winner a spot in my Book Of Days Boot Camp class, which is designed to help you create an intentional practice that will eliminate all the blocks you think you might have around creating. To be entered in the drawing, please do one or more of the following and leave a comment for EACH task you completed.
And now, go play with my cohorts who have lots of insights, wisdom AND fabulous giveaways for you to enjoy!