‘Let it flow’ – Thoughts On Picking Up The Paintbrush After Years

If you’ve been reading my fortnightly letters, blog posts here or following me on Instagram you probably already know that I have a thing or two for painting, especially oil painting. I have been dealing with a ton load of fears, limiting self-beliefs and self-doubts when it comes to painting and I was petrified of picking that paintbrush even though that is something I want to do every single day. Choosing courage as my word of the year is playing a much bigger role in how I am choosing to show up in my work and life, much bigger than I had imagined before and I’m so very grateful to be able to experience this kind of joy, fulfillment, and freedom in my creative journey.

I am 28 years old and I have spent the past 9 years or so as a practicing designer in the industry. I loved to paint ever since I was a little child. All the gifts that I used to get were somehow all related to paints, colors, and materials. I remember coming back home from school and sitting down on my tiny desk writing letters to my best friend and painting them with a ton of colors and exploring different techniques. I remember my mother getting my poorly done paintings framed and displayed all over the walls in our house.

As I grew up, I let how I feel about painting disappear somewhere on the way. I never felt that kind of joy ever again until I picked the paintbrush again. Oh, where was I. I realized how much in love was I and how much I have missed it.

Some of the reasons that stood in the way were…

I was relying on getting it perfect. 

It was perfect before I painted it and it would stay perfect in my vision if I don’t paint because I might choose to paint it and end up feeling like I have messed that vision up. As that happens when we first start. Our creative vision is much stronger than our creative abilities and there is a gap between that. It takes time, practice and a lot of patience to get to the stage where you are able to portray the vision perfectly on the canvas.

I was indecisive as I was passionate about multiple things at the same time. 

Another reason would be, I thought I had too many passions to pursue and I couldn’t figure out a way to start somewhere, anywhere. I found myself overwhelmed again and again with the countless choices in front of me. I couldn’t decide where to begin so I didn’t begin at all.

I hated being a beginner.

I was so desperate to get out of that beginner stage. I hated the journey. I wasn’t ready to give myself permission to become a beginner, try new things, fail and learn from my mistakes. I just wanted to be ‘pretty good’ at it already. My impatience, zero tolerance against facing the unknown and having all the answers in place stopped me from showing up the way I wanted to in my creative work and life.

I didn’t have time for creativity.

I was too busy making life happen. I used to find reasons not to make time for creativity and think my time spent on creating or playing or experimenting is a waste. Moreover, I attach my self worth with productivity and how I would end up feeling disappointed and thinking less of myself if I’ll be creating but not earning anything from those creations; money or recognition.

I have no idea why I thought recognition was important to me. There is a cultural and social aspect to how we see the time we spend on cultivating our creative abilities and following our creative passions. For some reason, I grew up thinking pursuing art was not a real career. I can still hear vague voices in my head telling me how art is meant only to be pursued as a hobby. I wasn’t aware of the power I had back then to change that and to choose to see things in a different light but I am well aware of it now.

Catharsis

There is power in sharing your side of the story in whichever medium you choose to share it in. Be it words, photographs, paintings or drawings. Sharing our stories mean we are allowing ourselves being seen and in doing so we forge meaningful connections.

‘Connection is what we are here for’ – Brene Brown

If the connection is why we are here and if a connection is dependent on sharing our stories then any time spent on honing in our craft to share them well is a time well-spent.

Isn’t that so?

‘Changing the world with your work starts with an idea’.

As overwhelming and impossible as it sounds but it doesn’t have to be that scary or big. Changing the world with our creative work could mean you helping someone change the way they see themselves and their work. It can actually be the way you see yourself. It resonated with me and I wanted to bring this forth to your attention too.

My encouragement for you is to start seeing yourself and your work as the means to change the world even if that means making time to play, experiment and share your ideas and stories.

For a very long time, I have associated my self-worth with how productive I was or how much money I make. I am slowly learning to embrace the idea that it is not the case. We all have inherent worth and it is not related to how productive you were in your day or how much money you made. Money is a tool and so is productivity. They enable us to build a life that we are aching for but they are not the end goals. In the struggle to make money by being as productive as we can be – we put too much pressure on ourselves and we start to ignore what matters the most to us in the process.

If being creative is important to you and you long for creative fulfillment then, by all means, make time for it. Lately, I have been thinking that maybe it is not wise to put that pressure of making money on our creativity and our creations. It stops us from experimenting and being playful with our creations and the best work happens when we make room for play. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Big Magic about her keeping her day job for a long time even after having 3-4 books published as she was not ready to put that kind of pressure on her writing. I am sharing this as food for thought as I have seen many of my clients struggle with the same too. As I encourage them to find their own answers and forge their own path, I would like to encourage you to find out what works the best for you as are the best judge of that.

There is power in slowing down and listening to yourself. 

I am choosing not to put that kind of burden on my painting and just living my truth out loud.

What’s your truth and are you living it out loud?
Would you like to?
Given the chance that you’d not fail how would you choose to live your life, the one and only life that you have?

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