Boldness at the Edge of Painting

There is always a point in a painting, drawing, sculpture, writing music and all things creative where one can destroy what they have worked to create. In art we refer to it as "killing the painting"... there is boldness at the edge of this act. 

I will use painting as a reference in this post but any of the arts will do. There is history in the marks we make and the colors we add. Each layer records time and intent. When a color combination or a layer of paint feels right, the painter can move to another section, balancing the areas together. And then the moment of imbalance strikes and s/he has to make the decision to destroy the area that they felt was perfect two minutes ago. Birth and death, over and over. Editing and destroying what we make is an act of courage that is the foundation of the arts and also our lives. There is courage in decisions and living in alignment with our personal value systems. In painting there are so many stages of boldness and self-doubt, love and hate, etc. that it is mind-blowing that we continue to create. Add to the process the act of sharing and putting yourself out there in a vulnerable place where you and your work will be judged, bought or ignored and ultimately consumed by another person's vision of what they think it should represent. This concept is explored in depth by the brilliant discussion about shame and self-worth that Brene Brown has been surfacing through her research.

Georgia O'Keefe brings it home when she talks of fear - and she was one bold lady: "I’m frightened all the time. Scared to death. But I’ve never let it stop me. Never!" There are little advancements toward working through these moments that keep things moving forward in a work of art, music and writing. I am at a place in a painting that I have to make a decision on how to complete it, and that may lead to its destruction or a happy evolutionary jump into learning something that I can bring forward to the next piece. This has led to procrastination, Facebook trolling and reading articles that have been stacking up. I also notice that in my latest series, I make small strides in directionally moving forward and use drawing in a tedious way that surrounds these moments of progression so that I can "rest". I have always studied and have been fascinated with the way creators make things. I look at what motivates them, what their interests are, how they spend their time and the little idiosyncratic things they do to prepare to create. In the end, it comes down to the work and showing up to make it, regardless of the results. We have to have the courage to let go and be open to whatever happens in this mysterious process. Faith and trust are key factors at this stage.

I do believe strongly that no work of art is ever perfect. I think there is nothing inherently negative in always thinking that you can do more to a piece. Those are the impulses that lead to the next creation and they are for me distinctly different from hating an artwork or tearing it to shreds before someone else can do the same. In the end, there is comfort in showing up again and again and in those places the little failures and the little wins turn into boldness and that is something that no one can take away from the act of creation.