Better than "Good Enough"
Story of a painting
I’ve been reading this book called “Creating the Impossible” by Michael Neill. It’s about creativity and how creative inspiration works, which is a subject I’ve been fascinated by recently. One of his big ideas was that you decide on a direction, and commit to it, things will always happen that will take you one step closer to it, if you are in tune with your inner self.
So, I was trying to come up with something I thought was impossible but that I wanted. I couldn’t do it! I don’t want a lot, really. I have all the stuff that I ever could want. I’m in a great situation with my family, and have lots of free time to pursue my passions. The things I do want, I want for my art career, but honestly, I think that’s all possible, given time, and I’ve got lots of that. His criteria for wanting something badly enough is that it makes you grin, giggle or gasp. I couldn’t find one. Until I was working on this painting, and I thought, I’m never going to be a phenomenal artist, I’ll always just be okay, or maybe good enough. And I decided that is what I want, my impossible goal.
So now to the painting. I’ve been working on this 48x48 incher for weeks. It started out pretty good. I liked the rough sketching in of the colors and the composition. I was using a lot of the shades of pink and red paired with the turquoise in some other paintings I was working on.
But it’s very rough. So I decided to try something I heard. Make all the dark shapes light, and all the light shapes dark, and then switch them back. Even if you have close to the same painting, it’s much more interesting for the history it’s gone through. So that happened. Ughhh…. (shudder)
So here’s the changeback:
its not really the same at all, and it really lost it’s fresh, spontaneous quality. So I kept going…
And then I just went crazy on it, adding lines without too much thought, just caught up in the Flow.
And I got to here, which was good, but I felt something missing, something too much the same, too busy.
So I got a bunch of great advice from some artists I admire. When I finally put all the advice together that I thought applied, I got this. I think it’s a strong composition. I like it. It was exciting to me. And I went to sleep.
Or tried to. At midnight I had this sudden urge to go paint over it. I decided it’s too big to be that bold. I would never want it in my house, if I was being honest with myself.
I almost talked myself out of it: Oh, it’s “Good Enough.” And I remembered I didn’t want to be good enough, I wanted to be phenomenal.
So I hopped out of bed and went downstairs to my studio. I mixed up some paint, and I went to town. I painted fast. I barely thought. I reacted, and then reacted to that. I was so caught in the flow that I didn’t know how long I had been working. I added soft subtle colors, a little here, a little there, this color to balance out that color, then I started scrubbing the paint off the places where I wanted the colors underneath to peek through. And Voila!
When I woke up, I added some pencil marks, and just sat and stared at it. I’ve been staring at it for hours now, as I finish this with my laptop on my lap. I wish they all turned out this good.