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My Creative Process

I wish I could say painting is easy for me. I wish I could say that sitting down by the easel every day is the easiest thing in the world.

But it’s not.

It’s one of the hardest parts of my day, if not the hardest.

Because all of my hopes and dreams and fears are tied up in that canvas.

I’ve always wanted to be some kind of artist. I have been filling up sketchbooks since the age of eight. I got in trouble during study hall because I was drawing instead of doing my homework. I studied art in college. I did a painting internship with an artist for over three years. I’ve been practicing drawing and painting for the majority of my life.

That’s why sitting down at my easel so freaking hard.

Because it’s got the weight of years behind it.

What if I create something terrible? I’ve dedicated my life to this thing… And what if I’m awful at it? What if I just truly create something appalling?

And I do. I create terrible art all the time. And sometimes I create okay art. And sometimes, sometimes I create good art. Hopefully one day… one day I’ll create great art.

Until that day, I remind myself constantly to be kind. Be kind to myself. Be kind to my art. Be kind to my process. Be kind to the fellow creatives I come in contact with, for they’re probably struggling under the same weight. The weight of a lifetime of dreams condensed into a single poem, a single canvas, a single melody, a single novel. It’s a weight too heavy for these flimsy objects to hold. I try to shimmy out from underneath the weight. To focus on the process and not the product. The weight keeps sneaking back though, throwing itself upon my brush. It clings to it. Desperate. Hungry for more fear and anxiety. So I wrestle it off before I can start painting again.

How do you detach the weight of years of hopes and dreams and fears off a project? Morning pages work well for me. Blasting Mumford and Sons as well as Johnny Cash. Café du Monde coffee with heavy cream and cinnamon. A cabernet sauvignon. Late night painting sessions and early morning walks. Yoga. So many things are able to loosen the weight off the bush, but I go to do the work. And do the work kindly. Do things that I love and love the process.

Sometimes, I need to remind myself how to treat the things that I love: “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV). Oftentimes I apply this to my relationships with people, but how can I apply this to my relationship with my creative process? Am I kind to my work? Am I patient? Am I envying others or boasting about my own work? Am I focusing on past wrongs or believing the best about myself and my work? Shake off the weight of fear and the pressure of the years by diving deep into treating my work with love and embracing the other things that I love.

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“The weight of years behind it” Yes.

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