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