It ain’t broke

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This was one of those weeks where I had to drag myself through my routine. Everything felt harder than usual. And after a few days, it wasn’t getting better; it was actually getting harder.

Once I got over the initial, “What’s wrong with me?” brand of negativity, I redirected that energy into trying to divine what was putting on the brakes.

Everyone has their own best methods, and for me, writing to myself in a conversational format is my no-fail, always get an answer, always feel better mode of accessing guidance. So after a few days passed and I was still struggling, I broke out my studio journal and took a hit at it.

This type of writing is normally the last thing I would want to share with anyone, but the very first exchange was quite clear and kind of funny, so here it goes:

ME: What should I do?

WISER ME: Stop trying to fix it. This is exactly what you are supposed to feel right here, right now. Stop fighting and trust it.

It went from there, but even with just this first bit, I immediately felt realigned. Once I finished writing I knew what the issue was and felt excited to get back to work in the studio.

It was satisfying to see all of these notes to myself about which colors went where filed away in the back of my easel.

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I’ve now completed them all and am busy improvising on the last few. These little ones are finally getting less awkward.

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And these mid size canvases both needed some “mending,” a reworking of some under layers and then working back over top to knit the colors in. But they are getting close too.

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I also put together a new stretcher for myself. It looks square here but it’s actually 25 x 27″.

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And then I pulled out these three old canvases for a look.

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Honestly, a part of me has been having some doubt about my new work – not major doubt, but it’s there – and so pulling these out was partially a test to see if I wanted to work in my old style again. I felt a satisfying and resounding clarity that no, I am done with these, and so I taped up the sides in preparation for painting over them. Just in time I remembered I need to put on the tape people first, so I will be tackling that next.

In the meantime, I enjoyed this view of the other side of the studio, with the completed pieces.

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It turns out, what was slowing me down was directly connected to my being so close to finishing this series. Though I don’t feel clear enough to give my conclusions about it yet, I will just say it’s that whole messy area that involves ambition, desire, competition, and even prayer.

I will also say that in the course of the week, I endlessly ran into related content, from an interview with Ani di Franco to an old favorite essay of mine by Ralph Waldo Emerson to a documentary about Janis Joplin. As well as music and old friends that were involved in these questions. Even my daughter’s book from school, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, seemed to carry a clue for me. I felt it was time to listen and absorb.

So this week, here’s to allowing those difficult feelings and listening. And most of all, here’s to not fixing it!

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