I was given the go-ahead to work on my Eleanor Smith Portrait a few weeks ago. Yet, I’ve been putting it off. There were a number of reasons for this, including:
- Fear. Fear that it will all go horribly wrong.
- Fear. Fear of that first brush stroke.
- Fear. Fear of everything as fear is the enemy of art.
I also wanted to put most of my creative efforts into my MA first, which I did. However, during these initial few weeks as I’ve been concentrating on my MA work, the canvasses I had put aside for Eleanor, were winking at me, whispering ‘start painting, start painting’.
In addition, a friend of mine who is also working on the Eleanor Smith Portrait Project kept asking me every time I saw her ‘Have you started yet?’ While she hadn’t started, I didn’t feel so bad about the fact that I hadn’t started. However, last week, she informed me that she had started. At this point, the guilt set in. I knew that my idea for the Eleanor Smith Portrait Project wouldn’t take me many hours. It predicted that it might take me much energy and concentration, but in terms of time, it was going to be three hours at the most. Yet, still I kept putting it off.
It was knowing that my friend had started her portrait that prompted me last Friday finally to unwrap the first canvas, fetch my new brushes and paints, and sit down and make that first scary brush stroke. To my great joy, the first brush stroke wasn’t so scary as I’d predicted. That first brush stroke actually looked reasonable. And, it lead to a second brush stroke, and then a third, and then a fourth. It wasn’t an instant disaster.
I had also been having a tough time, emotionally, when I started the paintings and was not at all in the mood to paint. Something in me prompted to paint anyway. My children were on holiday without me and I had been struggling, missing them. However, I managed to put my emotional angst aside and as I had a couple of hours to kill I channelled all my creative energy into painting. This strategy seemed to work. The next two hours passed in a haze, like a drug-induced, frenzy of creativity. In those two hours I managed to paint six of the nine canvases for the piece I had proposed. Thankfully, they were all acceptable. I hadn’t messed up completely, as feared. I was reasonably happy with my efforts. I was also utterly exhausted.
Two days later, I finished the other three paintings in a similar ‘frenzy’ of creative energy. These small pockets of frenzy is what I love about being an artist and they are what keeps me going despite ‘real life’ difficulties impeding on me.
Perhaps the trick is to paint it as it is, not as I think it is. And that is what I did. It is that ‘letting go of the ego’ I have written before here about allowing the hand and paintbrush to flow. I procrastinated a great deal for this, but in the end, it turned out for the best. I waited until I was feeling extremely low, and that seemed to work.
And, here is the result. Fingers crossed. Let’s hope Eleanor Smith and the other judges of the project like what I have done. It’s not brilliant, it’s not path-breaking, ground-breaking, or any similar hyperbole, but it’s ok and most importantly, I’m happy with it.