There’s something about my approach to painting that I have only recently understood and it very clearly serves to explain why I’ve been frustrated and frequently blocked, even when I’ve been prolific. For ages I’ve thought my paintings suck, or lack, or just don’t quite do it for me. I’d like to share this with you because it’s a common problem with lots of areas in our lives. Apply my theory to any area in your life and see what happens.
Here’s my theory…
It’s not what you are doing It’s HOW you are doing it!
Now that may not be a major revelation for you if you are a careful person who instinctively takes their time but for me, when I discovered I was simply rushing, this was my moment of breakthrough. Ok, I knew why I was rushing; because I don’t have much time to paint and I’m trying to fill a canvas or whatever and get a painting ‘done’.
What I had forgotten was the process. I had become goal oriented…oh how strange!
Just like the vast majority of my life I had unwittingly transferred my frantic search for ‘more’ to my creative life as well!
You know the scene…rushing through the boring jobs to get to the one you love and then when you get to that important one you really give a damn about you are so strung up you botch it by overworking a piece, going too far, too quickly, your mind completely out of the moment and in the idealized future when….oh dear, another unsatisfying result which leads to further feelings of frustration and reinforcing the ‘I’m crap’ belief system.
Sound familiar? Well it does to me.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of guided meditation during my chill time with the help of a few inspired apps like Insight Timer instead of reading or searching on eBay. This is paying dividends in my attention span and my ability to choose thoughts. Its been a while since I rushed headlong through a painting. I’ve been close but the process has been loosened out a bit from my previous habits and there is a bit more time to choose the next move. As a result my work is starting to deepen, and this pleases me immensely.
Ok, it’s been frustrating to have to wait so long to actually paint something, simply because I am taking longer to get round to it, but again, the quality over quantity bug is starting to itch me more than the one that just wants more, at any cost. I get the feeling we can all be a bit fixated on the more and not the less, so it’s a bit of a minimalist thing I suppose. I guess you could say it’s minimalism in action, not in stuff terms or to put it another way, simply pacing our activities away from more to less.
It’s not just our most important creative pursuits that need pacing. Due to experiencing ME/CFS for the past few years, I’ve had to learn how to pace everything! Literally…
My walking, my talking, my breathing, my eating, my cleaning, even… well you get the picture! Even getting dressed used to get me wound up in the morning and falling over my jean legs; I was always trying so desperately to get somewhere, but where?
The thing is, the grass really does look greener on the other side because we’re not standing in it looking down at the gaps! In psychological terms when we are rushing we are living in non-acceptance of the present. Why is this? Why is the present moment such a hard place to be?
Our culture for one encourages the vision to always be scanning for bigger, better, brighter…it actively fuels our discontent.
Indeed, many a time I have observed myself walking through town scanning, window shopping, desiring, planning my next spend. It doesn’t matter how much we have, the habit of spending as just one example is indicative of our collective inability to slow down. Yeah, there is also the background pressure to keep the economy going, but this is rhetoric. We are the economy! If we slowed down to a human pace and not that of a machine, the economy would adjust. But lets face it, I’m being utopian here and humans are no more going to slow down than I’m going to become Buddha in the next five minutes.
Wait a minute. …
But I could you know! I could become a Buddha in an instant if I really believed it was possible, and so could you. Likewise, it’s as hard to imagine we are even able to slow down, but I’ve seen it is possible and probably necessary for lots of reasons that we all know. Stress for one.
What if we spent a whole day watching our breath, watching our thoughts, watching our endless list of needs and desires play themselves on loop. What would happen if we could see clearly?
What if we became mindful, ethical, peaceful, slllllooooooowwww down just enough to take care of our creations and most importantly, our relationships, for they might just be the most important things we ever create.
Breathe in. Breathe out.