PATIENCE AND FLEXIBILITY
Large Sketchbook page revisited, mixed media on paper, 30”x 20”, Copyright 2014 David Limrite
“Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real passionate painter who dares”.
~Vincent Van Gogh
I wish you could be a fly on the wall in my studio while I was working. You might be surprised to find someone very familiar. You might see a lot of you in me. I procrastinate. I get distracted. I get frustrated. I try things that work. I try things that don’t work. I paint freely as things go smoothly. I get stuck. I encounter self doubts. I don’t know what to do next. I second guess myself. I have both successes and failures.
What you might not recognize is an artist with patience and flexibility. These are two of the hardest things for artists to master. And yet, patience and flexibility are two of the most important things an artist needs in order to be a successful, productive, and effective creator.
We all know what patience looks and feels like. it is hard to sustain, however. For me, it all comes down to loving the process. Enjoying the process of creating, allows one to be more patient, for sure. I know that I will eventually get “there’. Wherever “there” is. I just need to stay the course, be determined, have confidence, and love every minute of the process.
Flexibility is a bit more difficult. Being flexible means that you have to be willing to respond and adapt to the changes that happen on the surface of your canvas as you work on it. You have to be willing to adjust to the changing conditions and new circumstances as they present themselves.
Even more difficult is learning how to adapt to your ever changing thoughts about the painting in progress. You start with an idea. You visualize how you want it to look. You begin to actually create it. All is going well. Then, something happens. Something that you do not like or did not expect. You try something else. The work veers even further away from your original vision. You try and bring the work back. It goes in a different direction.
Does this sound familiar?
At this point, it becomes increasingly easier to get frustrated. Thoughts of “giving up” present themselves, along with self doubt, fear, etc. You may even want to start over or even quit painting altogether. By the way, this does not mean that you are a horrible artist. It just means that the painting is not done yet and that you have more work to do.
It is time for flexibility. You can fight this new direction that the painting wants to take you in or you can be flexible and go with it on a new journey, where, chances are, there will be something amazing to learn. Which decision sounds like it will be the most fun?
Paintings have a life of their own. They tell us how they want to be developed.. You must be willing to allow your painting to take you places that you may not want to go (at first). And, you must be willing to let your painting become something that you did not expect.
Patience and flexibility require hard work, but with practice, they can be powerful allies in your quest to be creative. And, they can be well worth the effort to master.
How did that fly get in my studio?