One of my plein air painting trips had motivated me to get started on a large studio painting that was inspired by one of my plein air paintings. I had set aside time for my art in my schedule. My creative energy was good, I was eager to get going and had a clear idea of what I wanted to accomplish, and yet...once I was in my studio and ready to take up my brushes, I felt a mantle of uncertainty and nervousness descend upon my mind. All of a sudden I didn't know what to do next –I felt frozen in my tracks.
What I did next is the key to overcoming this fear of starting which is quite common in any creative endeavor.
Our artist is a child and so I spoke softly to myself “Don't be afraid of anything – let's just pick up that big brush and have fun with toning the whole big canvas surface with some of that nice transparent paint – you don't have to do anything more than that for now – give it a go now – it will be fun”.
I felt relieved and decided to do as suggested – picked up the big brush and had fun splashing paint on the canvas until it was well coated with transparent paint.
Then my next instruction to my artist child was “OK, that's good, now how about putting a few marks and lines on the canvas to suggest the design that you already did once on the small painting? You can stop after that if you like”
Once again, I picked up the brush and made a few marks, then more lines appeared, and more. Pretty soon the whole canvas was covered with a laid out painting composition – as if by magic!
After another round of baby talk, I no longer needed any encouragement – I was well into the painting process and totally enjoying myself – 3 hours later the painting was going great – I had broken the spell of “starting”.
I have discussed this common feeling of “fear of starting” with other artists and they all report doing very similar things to get themselves going and out of the “fear zone” - take baby steps, talk yourself into “just paint for 10 minutes”, “just do a few lines”.
Action creates energy and momentum, which generates more action. And so it is with plein air painting, studio painting, writing or any creative pursuit.
Keep the bar low initially so that it feels easy to succeed. Confidence will come from this and the next leap can be higher.
Building on our previous success, we talk ourselves into higher, wider and more difficult jumps, until we are fully extended – and then are willing to go even further still. Magic!
Do you have any special ways of getting started with your plein air painting or studio painting that you care to share?
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