The Humble Beginnings of a Painting

Happy 2012!!!!!

I am excited about the new year!  I have a feeling this is going to be a very big year for all of us, and can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.  I’ve decided that my word for this year is awaken. I am not sure what that means yet, but I guess that is what awakening is all about :)

I’ve also decided to try to post more about the creative process this year because of your suggestions during the mix tape giveaway. It’s funny, the creative process is probably the most challenging thing for me to write about, so this will be interesting!

I am starting off by showing you the beginnings of a painting I am working on:

Painting On A Chair

I got inspired to work on a bigger surface than I have been working on lately, so I got this bigger canvas out from storage.  It sat around for days till I actually whipped out a knife and liberated it from the plastic packaging.  I wanted to do a painting, but there was lots of resistance, which sounds a little bit like this inside my head:

  • You don’t have enough space to paint in your house.
  • Painting is messy and you don’t really want to get messy right before bed.
  • What will we paint on that big blank space????
  • What if it turns out horrible – and then you’ve made a big mess and wasted an expensive piece of canvas all for nothing!

This is the hardest part of the creative process in my opinion – getting started and working through all that resistance.

And it seems like the longer I go between creative endeavors, the more resistance there is to wade through.  This night it seemed particularly bad.

But resistance doesn’t like being questioned and is sort of like that small man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.  It feels big and scary and authoritative, but is really a small place with big fears.  For each reason my brain came up with for why I should not paint, I listened to it, carefully pondered it, but tried not to blindly agree with it.  Instead I tried asking some genuinely curious questions.

  • Yes, our house is small, but is there some way I could figure out how to make some room to paint?  Is there any creative way I could create some space?
  • Painting *is* messy and it *is* a drag to clean it all up before bed, but is there any way to make it easier?  Less messy? Easier clean-up?
  • What will we paint on that big blank space????  Do we ever know what we will paint in those blank spaces?  What could it be?
  • And what if it does turn out horrible?  What’s the worst that could happen?  Is it worse not to try?

Once the questions were asked, the answers began to appear.  Suddenly, the place where the dog’s water and food bowl sit looked like an easy space to convert into a painting studio for an hour.  I moved the bowls aside and slid a chair in the space.  Then I grabbed a real grubby towel, laid it down, and sacrificed it to the creative process (yes, it did get yellow paint all over it, but it was already grubby!).

As for what to paint, I am still figuring that out, but yellow seemed to be calling my name.  I had fun mixing up batches and letting them drip down the canvas.  The next day I used a plastic fork to move the paint around while it was still wet.

So, that’s a bit of the creative process from my corner of the world.  I think the hardest part is that damn resistance.  Once the wheels are turning it all seems to get a little easier from there.  Just putting down the first mark seems to help.

Part of me feels like posting about a painting that is not yet done puts a lot of pressure to make it fantastic, but I guess that is just another creative challenge I will walk through – and I will post the finished result when it gets finished, whatever it looks like :)

For now, it is sitting between my creative nook and the dog bowl :)

Humble Beginnings of a Painting

Many wishes for wonderful things to transpire for you in 2012, and may any resistance to all that is good and calling your name melt away like drops of water sliding down the side of a dog’s water bowl :)

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5 responses to “The Humble Beginnings of a Painting”

  1. stacie

    Why do we have those crazy voices in our head? I watch my 9 year old daughter create, and it’s free flowing! I am happy that you decided to post about your process, I think that it is always interesting to read about other artists and how they create what they do.

  2. *Kristen*

    stacie » Yeah, where do those voices come from? I love that your daughter doesn’t have to deal with them at 9! Thanks for your comment Stacie!

  3. Lis

    Bonus points for hanging in there and dealing with all those snarky resistances!

    I paint a lot on my wood floor on top of a shower curtain. I end up carting my stuff up and down the stairs from the basement (where I set up a work space, but don’t use because – well, it IS the basement and lonely and dark down there!) … it’s become a habit, the cleaning up so hopefully that resistance will fade quickly!

    I also learned I LOVE IT when I have a total mess on my hands because then I no longer worrying about … HA! Messing it up! Something liberating in playing along with the mess … and usually it does transform into something I love. But yeah, if at the beginning I like what I am doing, then I freak out that I will mess up and end up limiting myself somehow.

    So I guess all that babbling is … my greatest lesson in creating is to practice surrender. Painting a crappy painting? I surrender to that. Painting something cutesy dumb? I surrender to that. I don’t know, it just works for me.

    And I love see you create! Every morning I am greeted by your artwork which always speaks to my heart.

    Happy New Year! xo Lis

  4. *Kristen*

    Lis » Oh, THANK YOU for this beautiful piece of wisdom disguised as a blog comment :) I remember you once said you had probably written a whole book in the form of comments and I have to say that surrendering to a painting should definitely be a chapter! Just beautiful and exactly what I needed to hear. I really can’t thank you enough.

    And a shower curtain!! BRILLIANT!!!! Why didn’t I think of that, like, 20 years ago?????? I am so going out and getting a shower curtain! Let the messiness begin! :) It’s also comforting to know that someone else has to schlep creative stuff around. I have this fantasy that everyone has their own private painting studio. And while I wish we all did (especially you!), I am comforted to know and be reminded that great creative sessions and great works of art can happen over a shower curtain from a thrift store as much as in a private painting studio :) haha

    And I am so thrilled to know I have some artwork continuing to send you love and joy in the morning! :)
    much love,

    Let me know when all that Lis wisdom ends up in a book – I will be your first customer! :)

  5. The Humble Beginnings of a Painting: Part 2

    […] loved what Lis said in the comments of Part One of this post about surrendering to a painting, and letting go of whatever it is going to turn out to be — […]