Someone in my online class Facebook group recently asked how I get over the feeling that I will never be able to paint as well as I did before.
The question promoted a lot of fabulous conversation. And I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Comparing myself to my past work is something I struggle with ALL of the time. I’d say, pretty much with every single painting I hear the voice in my head that wonders if I will ever paint something as free as I felt when I created Run With The Wind or my owl In Dreams.
And what makes it worse is when I start thinking about the compliments I’ve received on a painting. All of those things filter round and round in my mind and can make me feel petrified to even create.
I paint so many different characters that when I want to create that same character again (whether it’s a girl, a bear, a lion etc) I tend to look back at that painting I adore so much and idealize it (as if it just fell into place).
But if I’m really honest with myself and really remember, it normally wasn’t that easy to get to that idealized painting… either I’d painted over it so many times that finally I got it right or I’d been painting so many other paintings at that same time, that one finally worked out.
I always forget that part when I’m trying to paint something new. That’s what prompted me to take photos of my work in progress to always have them to look back on and remember there is always an ugly stage and it didn’t just come easily.
Here’s a post about my painting With You, I Am Warm… this is the first painting I took in-progress shots of because after I painted this owl, I couldn’t paint another owl because I got so stuck on how beautiful and unique that owl was for me.
But, one thing leads to the next and when I push through, I uncover something new.
It’s always in those breakthrough moments that I need to push myself the hardest and be the most graceful and forgiving with myself. Otherwise, I’d get so frustrated; I’d just give up or compromise my creativity and keep on painting the same things I know work and that people always say they adore.
Recently I was painting my blue series, which was a breakthrough time for me (super scary and exciting all at once). I had never painted anything like them before and I’d look back on the last one and psyche myself out, thinking I couldn’t paint another.
Yet it was so deep in my heart that I NEEDED to express these blue characters.
Well, that frustration led me to painting big again… and that became a new breakthrough for me.
I never know where my creativity will lead me. I would get bored painting the same thing all of the time. And I have so much more that I always need to express.
I’ve learned that those frustrating times, those times where I feel like I’ll never paint anything as good as before again… those are my breakthrough moments. Those are the times when I am going to feel the most frustrated with my artwork (and probably compare myself to others and avoid getting into my studio to paint). But if it’s new and something I’ve never tried before, it’s going to take a few tries (and probably a whole lot more).
The important thing, for me, is to push through. It may not look the way I intended or wish that it would, but all I can do is keep showing up, creating and expressing the story I have hiding inside.
I hope you enjoy a lovely weekend!
Ps. I am so excited to finally share my art and inspiration book with you :: Inspired By The Little Things.
Pps. If you’re interested in painting big together, I share the big paintings above in my Serendipity 1 and Serendipity 2 online classes.
Ppps. I’ve moved my prints to my society 6 shop, where you can now find canvas prints, framed prints tote bags, iphone cases, laptop skins and more.