(I’m on a painting kick lately–please forgive me. But the root of this post is about much more than some simple brushstrokes.)
You may remember this little post I wrote prompting you to look inside your refrigerator for some inspiration. When this project was assigned to me, I had no idea where to start. Now that I’ve finished, the journey of getting to this point was the most valuable part of it all.
I painted this first canvas quickly, following the “helpful guidelines” suggested by the professor. Easy enough. I fell in love; I had never painted like that before. The suggested technique was simple enough, and the results were MUCH different (and probably more successful) than my previous project. I believed I was on to something here.
And then I started the second painting the same way–long brushstrokes, light colors layered under the darks, thin paint laid down before the sections of a thicker consistency. I thought I had it all figured out. And then I stepped away from it…and hated it.
This painting wasn’t going right in the beginning– it was VERY dark, very washed out, not matching up to the still life I was staring at (or the ridiculous expectations in my head). This resulted in plenty of class time just staring at the canvas, poking around with my paintbrushes, unsure of what to do next and afraid to make even another mark out of fear that it would all fall apart. It resulted in a lot of agonizing and confusion, thinking, “What do I do next?”
And at some point that I can no longer pinpoint, my frustration grew so extreme that my brushstrokes became smaller, and harsher, and quicker. I had given up on finishing this project with dignity; I just wanted it to be over. There was some moment that I decided it was better just to get ANY material down on the mockingly blank canvas and that it would hopefully somehow fall into place.
And when I stepped back to take notice, it ended up looking like this.
Now, I know this all sounds much more dramatic than how it actually occurred. I didn’t sit in the studio for hours crying, or sighing, or smashing my brushes around the canvas to miraculously end up with a “masterpiece.” It took a few mistakes and a lot of corrections to get these paintings looking presentable. But that was the most enjoyable part; after letting go of the fear that one out of line brushstroke would ruin the whole end result, I realized that all I had to do was paint. I just had to start somewhere.
I feel like this is something I often forget in my day-to-day: that you can’t get to the end result that you have in mind by standing cautiously on the edge of the pier and dipping your toes into the water. You have to plunge in head first and start paddling. You can’t let fear hold you back if you want to accomplish a goal. Sometimes, you just have to go for it. You just have to start somewhere.
This little painting project was the perfect reminder of that. And the most empowering part? I’m going to hang these in my future kitchen.