Tag Archives: inner critic

Even More Paintings

I’ve been keeping up with my painting this week but I have to admit, I got a little discouraged a couple of days ago. I was working on something with a small building in it and I could not get the perspective right on that building. My left brain kept telling me that the roof was a big rectangle and it wouldn’t listen when my right brain tried to tell it that all I could see of it was a thin rhombus. I could not get my left brain to let go of that rectangle. I tried for a while and then I just got frustrated and gessoed over the whole canvas.

That was one of those times when my inner critic had a field day. It told me I could not paint at all. It told me that I would never be able to paint and I should just give up. It said that I wasn’t getting any better; I was just getting worse. It went on and on but it couldn’t stop me because I have a much louder voice in me that says, “You set a goal. You must do everything in your power to meet it.”

I still felt as if things were not going well, but I knew I had to keep painting. Even right up until this morning, I would look at all of the paintings I had done this week and see nothing but problems. I hated every one of them and the only reason I didn’t give up was that pesky goal I had set for my third blog year. I needed two paintings a day, so I had to create two paintings a day. I kept going.

When I started working on today’s paintings, I was worried that I would just be toughing out my painting time to meet my goal. I was afraid that I would hate my paintings. I was afraid that I would never like any of my paintings again. All those fears fell away when I finally picked up a brush and started painting. I got lost in the process and I had fun. When the paintings were finished, I liked them.

I brought them inside and put them with the other paintings I had done this week. Something in me had shifted while I was working on the new paintings. Now I could look at the others and see that they were not all completely lame. There were problems, sure, but there were also things that worked.

In seven days, I did fifteen paintings and only eleven of them are tiny. I got brave enough to try a 5” x 7”, a couple of 8” x 10”s and one 12” x 12”. I don’t hate these paintings. I look at them now and I see progress.

Six Tiny Paintings

Six Tiny Paintings


Five Tiny Paintings

Five Tiny Paintings


Two Trees

Two Trees


Two Trees Again

Two Trees Again


Magnolia Tree

Magnolia Tree


Maple Tree

Maple Tree


That’s all I need to see.

Advertisements

This Week’s Story

This was not a painting week. I wanted it to be a painting week. I wished it could be a painting week. It just didn’t turn out to be a painting week. Well, at first it was because I needed to be dyeing in those early morning hours when it was not too hot to work outside. Then there were other chores that my inner critic insisted must be done before I could allow myself some painting time. Okay, okay, I did my chores.

I was looking forward to Tuesday as a possible painting day, but on Sunday, I discovered a nail in my tire. By “discovered,” I mean I drove several blocks to my daughter’s house while my tire made strange sounds and I realized what they were as I pulled into my daughter’s driveway and she said, “Mom, you have a flat tire.” I called my husband and he drove over to put on the spare for me. It’s one of those itty bitty doughnut spares, so on Monday I drove to the tire repair shop. The tire couldn’t be fixed because it was too old. They could have put an inexpensive tire on my car that day and sent me on my way, but my daughter went with me to the tire repair shop and she looked up the brand on her cell phone.

It did not have good reviews. They suggested a somewhat more expensive brand. My daughter nixed that one as well. We finally settled on a more reliable brand, one endorsed by my daughter’s friend who is a mechanic. That brand was not in stock, so we ordered it, along with two more to replace the other ancient tires on my car. Only one of the tires on my car was not ancient. That one had to be replaced in the middle of the Florida Folk Festival, but that’s another story. This story is about why I didn’t paint this week.

Tuesday could not be my painting day because Tuesday was my day to wait by the phone for the tire folks to call and tell me my tires were in. Then I had to drive up there and wait while they replaced my ancient tires with shiny new tires. That used up all my possible painting time, but it was worth it.

It was worth it because today I needed to take my son-in-law to a doctor’s appointment across town. For my readers (all both of you) who are not familiar with Jacksonville, Florida, I will explain that “across town” means a trip over a bridge, on the interstate. On the way home from this appointment, we ran into a nasty rainstorm. There was water all over the highway. If I had been driving on those ancient tires, there’s a good chance I would have been hydroplaning out there. Thanks to that annoying nail, I was driving on nice, new tires, highly rated for driving in the rain.

I did not paint this week, but I also did not hydroplane, so I’m pretty sure it was a good week.

Resting

Summer is a hard time to be creative. The world is so rich and warm and full, it doesn’t seem to need any contributions from me. I love being outside in the summer. I love the lush greens and I love the colorful flowers and I love the sound of bees buzzing in clover. It all makes me happy but it doesn’t make me want to write a song or make a painting. It seems to beg me to just breathe and be thankful.

The bees like the birdbath.

The bees like the birdbath.


This annoys my inner critic, of course, who keeps telling me I need to be accomplishing things. I’ve been trying to keep that critic quiet by catching up with my tie-dye chores and my housecleaning, but my higher self must have seriously wanted me to take a little break. I was reaching for a basket of blanks to put in the washer the other day, just doing my normal job in my normal way, and my lower back said, “Oh, no you don’t!” and hit me with one very sharp pain, followed by lots more pain if I tried to keep doing my job.

I looked up “back strain” on the internet and it told me I should do pretty much nothing for a couple of days and then gradually get back to my normal activities. It was right there, in black and white. My inner critic had to shut up and let me rest. I couldn’t paint. I couldn’t wash blanks. I couldn’t put things into pre-soak. I couldn’t do any of the things a hard-working tie-dye artist and/or housewife was supposed to be doing. All I could do was be still and read or carefully play video games on a borrowed 3DS (thank you, daughters, for helping me cope with my forced idleness).

I have to say that once I got some arnica on me and some ibuprofen in me, I enjoyed those two days. I know it’s almost un-American to say so, but nothing is really a lovely thing to do on a sunny day in June, if you have an ironclad excuse and you know it’s only temporary. My inner critic was silenced and I got a good rest. I am gradually getting back to my chores now, with the addition of a back brace to help me avoid re-injuring myself.

I guess I need to learn to listen to my higher self when it tells me I need to rest. The grass tried to tell me. The bees tried to tell me. I just kept pushing, because that is what a responsible person is supposed to do. My higher self (or the Universe or Good Orderly Direction or whatever you want to call it) had to bring out the big guns, just to get me to stop for a couple of days and do nothing.

Sometimes nothing is the best thing anyone can do.

A Bigger Painting

When I stopped at Publix the day before my blogiversary, they only had one bunch of sunflowers in the store. They were a bit bedraggled but I really wanted to paint some sunflowers that day, so I bought them anyway. I went back a few days later and they had restocked the sunflowers. I couldn’t resist buying another bunch. Since my first bunch had been the dark orange-yellow kind, I chose a bunch of lighter yellow ones for my second bunch. I thought I would go right home and put them in the vase with my older ones and paint them.

I did put them in the vase, but I procrastinated on the painting. I had important things to do. I’m working on spreadsheets that will sort out my tie-dye inventory the way the IRS wants it sorted (FIFO) and it’s a tedious process that makes me wonder every year why I don’t just shut this business down and get a real job. Then I remember that a real job feels like death in a cubicle and I get back to work on my spreadsheets. My inner critic is happy when I’m working on spreadsheets.

I wanted to paint, but I resisted painting. It wasn’t just the FIFO thing, either. I was nervous about painting. I had just finished my first whole year of painting and I had spent time in this blog congratulating myself for meeting my goal and celebrating the progress I had made. For some reason, that made it hard to start a new painting. I thought about it every day, but I didn’t do it. My flowers stayed pretty, but I knew they wouldn’t last forever. It would be a shame to have eight sunflowers in the house and let them wilt without trying to paint them.

Yesterday, I finally decided what size canvas to use (16” x 20”) and I painted it purple. My daughter had set up her tying table in front of some bins, which made it a perfect place to hang a purple towel and set up my sunflowers. My usual display area wouldn’t work because the arrangement was too big.

Once the purple was dry, I tried to do some sketching on it with a pencil, but it just didn’t work. I decided I needed a charcoal pencil and then I decided I didn’t want to go out in the rain to get one, so I went back to my spreadsheets.

My husband got home as I was working on my spreadsheets and said he needed to go the store which must not be named (Okay, it was Walmart) to get a coffee maker for his office. He wondered if I would like to go along and I jumped at the chance, since he would be the one driving in the rain. He got his coffee maker and I got some charcoal pencils. Yes, the store which must not be named carries charcoal pencils.

It was pretty late by the time we got home and I still needed to cook supper, so I waited until this morning to sketch my sunflowers. I took a couple of photographs of the set-up because I was using natural light and I had a feeling I would not be able to finish the painting before the light changed. I was right about that. This painting took me about six hours to complete.

More Sunflowers

More Sunflowers


It was worth it, but the next time I try a project like this, I hope I remember to stop for lunch.

Painting in May

Last week, I wrote about Mother’s Day and how I hadn’t been able to take that day off from making tie-dye since we started getting ready for our first Florida Folk Festival in 2008. This week, I can tell you that I spent my 2014 Mother’s Day resting and having fun with my family. All of my children and grandchildren came over for a backyard cookout and my husband did the cooking. It was a lovely day, in spite of the fact that my husband had to pull the grill under our dyeing canopy and run through a storm to bring in the hot dogs and corn.

Since I had met my dyeing goals on Saturday, I was able to take some time Monday morning to paint. I had picked up some sunflowers at the grocery store on Sunday, with the hope of finding some painting time before they wilted, but I went outside early Monday morning to put Onesies into pre-soak and the backyard garden caught my eye again. I was feeling brave, so I decided to try painting outdoors. Once the Onesies were up, I brought out my easel and paints to try and capture the garden before the squash blossom closed up and the Onesies got dry.

Let’s call this a learning experience.

Garden with Squash Blossom

Garden with Squash Blossom


The difficulty level was way beyond my skills and my inner critic had a field day telling me that I was hopeless at painting and I would never get any better and I might as well give up. I heard the voice but I didn’t pay it much attention because the act of painting had put me in a good mood for the whole day. I did want to try something easier the next time, though, so on Tuesday, I painted the sunflowers. My daughter called just as I was finishing up because it was time to get started on the rinsing. I brought her to my house and she admired the sunflower painting. Then she pointed out something I hadn’t noticed – the difference between this painting of sunflowers and the first sunflower painting I had done in early March.

My inner critic can no longer make me believe that I will never get any better at painting. Here’s the March painting:

Early Sunflowers

Early Sunflowers


Here’s the one I did yesterday.
More Recent Sunflowers

More Recent Sunflowers


My skills are definitely improving. In your face, inner critic!

The Magic 8-Ball Was Wrong

One day last year, when I was trying to work on my creative goals and having all kinds of trouble getting started, I happened to be playing with a Magic 8-Ball at my daughter’s house. I was feeling frustrated with every creative activity I tried, particularly painting, so I said to the Magic 8-Ball, “Will I ever paint a picture that I actually like?”

“Outlook not so good,” said the Magic 8-Ball.

“Oh, great!” I thought, “Even the Magic 8-Ball is against me.”

I knew the Magic 8-Ball was hardly infallible, but it was still discouraging. My daughter said it just meant that I was hypercritical of my own work. According to her, I was painting nice things but I was my own worst critic. The Magic 8-Ball wasn’t saying that I would never paint a good painting; it was saying that I was impossible to please. Either way, it did not bode well for my happiness.

I tried not to take it to heart. The Magic 8-Ball is just a toy, after all, not a sacred oracle. There was only one painting required by my first year blog goals, anyway. I could do that painting and celebrate its completion, whether or not I was actually pleased with the result. I didn’t know then that my heart would turn toward painting in my second blog year.

The pull was strong and would not be ignored. It was what I had been hoping and praying for that whole first year – that one of the creative things I tried in that year would open my closed heart and shine a light into my soul. My soul had been feeling tired and dark and cold for a lot of years. I was hoping to get a little fire going, somehow.

Honestly, I did not have high hopes. It was a surprise to me that it worked. It was even more of a surprise that the one thing I most wanted to do at the end of it was paint. I remembered the Magic 8-Ball but I still wanted to paint. I’ve been doing it now for six weeks and most of my attempts have been disappointing, but I have not wanted to give up. I have just wanted to keep trying.

I painted a tiny painting this week, just to make sure there would be something to blog about.

One Tomato

One Tomato


Cute, isn’t it? Once it was done, I took another look at the fruit and flowers I bought earlier and decided to rearrange them and paint them again. I cut down one of the sunflower stems and put the sunflower in a small jar. I put the jar behind the plate of pears and put them all against a blue background. What surprised me about this painting was that I liked the way the plate turned out.
Sunflower with Pears

Sunflower with Pears


The next day, I saw that two of the sunflowers had wilted, but two of them were still in pretty good shape. I took the two good ones and cut the stems a bit shorter and put them in the jar. I set the pears aside and just painted the sunflowers.
Two Sunflowers

Two Sunflowers


It was when I finished this one that I knew the Magic 8-Ball was wrong. I like this painting.

Commitment

So I said I was going to blog at least once a week, but it did not occur to me to specify exactly what I meant by that. Did I mean a calendar week? If I did, I can satisfy my commitment by blogging any time this week, but if I meant that I would not let a whole week go by without blogging, I need to blog today. If I blog today, will that mean Wednesday is now blog day? I may not want Wednesday to be blog day. Friday was working pretty well for me. Who knows what will happen if I switch to Wednesday?

They’re my rules, of course. I should be able to be flexible. I should be able to give myself a special dispensation to blog on a Wednesday before a festival and on a Friday after I get back from a festival. That seems reasonable enough, but there’s still a voice in my head saying, “You said you would blog at least once a week. A week has gone by since you published your last post. You must blog today!”

I don’t think I’m ready to allow myself flexibility just yet. I need to be sure this is an established habit before I start fiddling with the rules. In this blog’s first year, I let three months go by with no entries at all. Three months! The blog was young then and I had not decided how often I wanted to post. Once I saw how easy it was to lose track of that much time, I knew I needed to make a commitment. I went ahead and said I would post at least once a week, and I haven’t missed a week since. The commitment matters.

Maybe I should remember that when I’m trying to find time to be creative in other ways.

I’ll have to think about that, but I’m not ready to add any new commitments to my schedule right now. I’m already up past my bedtime trying to keep the one I made about the blog, and I just realized that I have not received a reminder from WordPress in my e-mail yet and that means that WordPress is pretty sure I meant once per calendar week, not once every seven days. WordPress is nicer than my obsessive inner critic.