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.

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.

Procrastination

It has been an interesting week. After finishing my 16” x 20” painting and updating my blog and my List of Fifty Things, I started thinking about what to tackle next. I still needed to finish an art doll and an art quilt before my sixtieth birthday (and first blog anniversary) on February eighth. I was starting to feel some pressure, so I did what I always do under such circumstances – I procrastinated.

Fortunately, I had other things I needed to be thinking about. It was time to count all the tie-dye and balance the inventory. Once that was done, I needed to complete my sales tax spreadsheet and pay my fourth quarter sales taxes. These are tasks that my inner critic usually gives me a whole lot of grief over, because my inner critic is nothing if not responsible when it comes to tedious and unpleasant paperwork. Sometimes I let myself get so stressed out over it, I end up escaping into video games just to calm down.

I didn’t have to do that this week; I was too busy NOT making an art doll or an art quilt to feel any pressure about paperwork. In fact, the paperwork was a perfect escape from the art pressure. While my inner critic was busy going on and on about how I should be working on a creative project, I completed my inventory and my sales tax spreadsheets as an act of pure defiance. It was actually kind of fun. Take that, inner critic!

I mailed out my sales tax return yesterday and I thought I would work on an art project today, but the resistance was strong. Conveniently, I found some other paperwork that really needed to be done. It was time to submit our yearly application to the local arts market. That market has been in existence for five years (2014 is the sixth) and we’ve been approved vendors all five years, so I thought that would be quick and easy, but they added a new requirement this year and it stressed me out. It wasn’t difficult, but it was something for which I had not prepared and that was enough to throw me into a tizzy. It was the kind of tizzy that made me run from my computer and make myself a big bowl of my favorite comfort food – cheese-potato soup.

Mmmm…cheese-potato soup…that’s better. Once I was full of heavy carbs and cheese, that application was much less intimidating. I got the new information (and references – thanks, ladies!) I needed and I sent the application off with no further angst. Whew!

I patted myself on the back and I thought about working on an art project. I really did, but the resistance was still strong. The best I could do was go online and google art dolls. Oh, my goodness, there are a lot of wonderful art dolls out there! I saw paper dolls, rag dolls, polymer clay dolls, porcelain dolls…the possibilities are endless. One reason I have wanted to make an art doll for years and never actually made one is that I haven’t been able to decide what kind of doll I want to make.

This is where procrastination serves me. I have a deadline now and it’s getting close. I don’t have time to do anything complicated. I don’t have time to learn new techniques. That rules out a lot of confusing (and tempting) options. If I’m going to get this done, I’m going to have to do something relatively simple and I’m going to have to use skills and materials that I already have.

That settles it. I’ll be making a cloth doll. With any luck, I will do that before it’s time to publish another blog post.

Blog Time Again?

Apparently, another whole week has gone by since I last blogged. How did that happen? I guess time flies when you’re trying to write a novel, get ready for Thanksgiving and also get ready to take the tie-dye to market. I believe I am now officially sorry I booked us into the market on Small Business Saturday. We never do the market on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We tried it the first year our local market opened and had the lowest sales of any day that year (well, that year so far; a December Saturday two weeks later when it rained all day was much worse, but that’s another story). We figured everyone was still in the big box stores or exhausted from Black Friday and decided never to do it again. We’d rather be eating leftover pie and watching Christmas videos.

That was several years ago, though, and Small Business Saturday has kind of turned into a thing since then. The market promised lots of promotion this year so we finally broke down and booked it again.

What were we thinking? Now we need to make lots of tie-dye during National Novel Writing Month. I was dyeing all day yesterday and then stayed up past my bed time adding two thousand words to my novel. Determined words. Desperate words.

And now, I’m about to do it again. I spent the day outside dyeing Christmas Tree T-shirts, Rainbow Hearts and Rainbow Rayon. All day long my inner critic was giving me a hard time about my novel, telling me it was worthless, hopeless and without any redeeming social value. Also lame. And, oh, by the way, I’m never going to find my place in this world and I’m going to die with all my songs still inside me. A real piece of work, my inner critic.

I vehemently disagreed, of course; I always do, but the fight makes me weary. I didn’t want to dye. I didn’t want to write a blog post. I didn’t want to add two thousand words to my worthless, hopeless, lame novel. I finished the things I needed to finish before dark and I came into the house to make the best possible use of the hours I had left before bed time. I needed to write a blog post and I needed to add to my word count, but I wasn’t feeling up to facing those tasks without doing something else to raise my spirits. Something that always works.

Hot apple pie

Hot apple pie

I baked a pie. I feel better. Now, on to my novel.

Drawings!

I’m back in flat Florida. It’s nice to have running water again. It’s nice to be sleeping in a place where I can sprawl. I’m trying to be positive, but it’s hard not to miss those gorgeous mountains and those glorious Fall colors. I’m not going to go into detail about my vacation. The last time I did that, my older daughter refused to read that week’s blog post. She had already been subjected to our vacation stories and our vacation pictures. I’m going to give her a break and talk about creativity instead.

I have something exciting to report. I did a drawing every single day while I was in North Carolina! I started with the first thing I saw when I stepped out of my car on our hillside campsite – some pokeweed berries that very nearly hit me in the face. The berries were bright green but their stems were magenta. I was using my set of twelve watercolor pencils, so there was no way I could capture those colors perfectly, but they were so startling that I had to try.

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

Once I had done a drawing the very first day we arrived, I started to think I might be able to do one every day. I was surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, so I had no excuse not to try. The next two days I chose wildflowers that were growing on the hillside and I was reasonably happy with those drawings.

Yellow flowers

Yellow flowers


Purple flowers

Purple flowers

Then I tried something different: a pair of work gloves lying across some cut firewood. This was so much more difficult than the little bits of flora I had done the first three days, I wanted to give up in the middle of it. The perspective was all wrong; the gravity wasn’t working…my inner critic was going on and on about how horrible this little drawing was.

Impossible gloves

Impossible gloves

I’ve tried doing a drawing a day before. Then I would reach a point like this and my inner critic would start telling me that I had no talent and it was never going to get any better and I might as well give up. Every other time, that was exactly what I did. Not this time. I did go back to flora. I chose a small, pretty leaf in colors that were readily available in my tin, but I kept going. One more day, one more drawing, no quitting. Go me!

Sumac leaf

Sumac leaf

The following day was our day to visit an orchard, so that day I drew an apple. I like this one a lot. Smooth, round fruits are easy.

Apple

Apple

Maybe too easy. The next day I had the nerve to think I might be able to draw a doughnut. My tin had no browns except dark umber, but I did not let that discourage me. I had no idea that all the nooks and crannies of a doughnut make it an entire world on your plate – a world you must draw before you can eat.

Doughnut

Doughnut

My inner critic got loud again that day, so the next day, I went back to flora.

Another leaf

Another leaf

One more Autumn leaf makes eight drawings to add to my list of fifty things. Actually, nine. I had drawn a couple of peppers before I left home.

Peppers

Peppers

I forgot to date the drawing, so I’m not sure when I drew it, but it was definitely during my sixtieth year, so it counts.