“Things are never as they seem.”
This writing prompt inspired a valuable lesson that I learned as an artist. We all have inner critics whose voices don’t serve our highest good. Learning how to quiet those voices is an ongoing challenge in life as well as art.
“What gaudy colors!”
“There’s way too much definition and those shapes don’t work!”
“Who am I kidding calling myself an artist?”
This all too familiar conference of critics called out their insults as I stared back at my canvas.
For weeks I’d been struggling with a large painting and I began to hate it. It was an abstract composition based on tropical plant forms. I had been inspired at first, but the painting had become complex. I lost myself in a mesh of colors, lines and shapes. After a while, I just couldn’t see it clearly. The more I worked on it, the more I thought of it as a failure. “It’s probably the ugliest thing I ever painted”, I thought to my horror.
I couldn’t look at it any longer. Finally I wrapped it up and hauled the painting down to my storage unit. I turned it to face the wall so that no-one could see it, not even my other stored objects. Shutting the light off and locking the door behind me, I walked away thinking I could paint much better than that.
A year passed before I looked at my painting again.
I’d been searching for something that I had stored away when I spied the back of that canvas squeezed tight against the side of the wall.
I had forgotten about it.
Pulling the canvas out of hiding I held it out to the light of day and looked at it anew. My eyes were met by an array of exotic shapes, juicy colors, a celebration of tropical flora. “What an amazing painting!” I thought.
The critics were silent. I could see my artwork with truly fresh eyes… with objective eyes.
It needed just a few strokes to complete it and I soon sold it at by next show. It’s still one of my favorites.
Big Island, oil on canvas, 36″ x 48″