On Not Having Time to Paint

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For Christmas, I asked for and got paints.  I got acrylic paints, canvases, a cool wooden box to put the paints in, paintbrushes, one of those round plastic palettes, a couple books on painting.  Just looking at all these art supplies makes me tingle with anticipation.

I've been feeling the urge to paint for awhile now, and so getting all this for Christmas made me really happy.  After the rush of the holiday was over, the tree down, the decorations out of the way, I took over an extra table in the guest room for my art.  I arranged all my paints, found an old mug to stick the paintbrushes in, set the books out for easy reference.  The art supplies look good there, all ready to use.

And so far all they are doing is looking good.

Because I haven't touched them.

Not once.

My daughter actually made a semi-snide reference to the fact that I wanted the art supplies so bad and hadn't yet used them. 

"I was gone in Nashville for a week and a half," I pointed out to her.

She backed down quickly and I felt pleased with myself for being right, and having such a good excuse for not having spent any time with my paints.  But later, when I was opening the shades in the guest room so Lieutenant, one of my new cats, could sit in the window, and look out my eye fell on the paints.  And I realized that being out of town was just an excuse.

  • I have other excuses for not painting, too.  They include:
  • I have to get my messy office organized first
  • I have to work
  • I have to watch American Idol
  • I have to go see a movie with my friend Paula
  • I have to go out to dinner
  • I have to go to Eugene

Good excuses, all.  But the fact remains that they are just excuses, and there is one real reason why I've not yet gotten out the paints.

  • It is because I am scared.  And because I am scared, here are some of the things I tell myself:
  • I'm not a painter
  • I don't know how to paint
  • I won't be good enough
  • It won't be right
  • I won't be perfect
  • I don't know what to do first
  • Someone might see me doing it and expect me to be good

Dumb, stupid excuses all.  And because I am a person who tends to think that everything that happens in my life has meaning, I am not only looking deeply at my resistance to painting, but also likening it to writing.  It gives me renewed empathy for the writers that I coach, for those of you who desire so strongly to put words on the page, for everyone who hesitates before committing pen to paper. 

Because my experience with not paint makes me empathize with everyone who is not writing.  So let's make a deal, shall we?  I'll paint if you write.  Okay?  Easy.  We can do it.  I know we can. 

***Besides writing, my favorite thing to do is coach creatives to become prolific and prosperous writers.  I'm working on getting my coaching page up, but in the meantime, if you're interested in hiring me, just email me.  You'll find the address at the top left of this page.

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7 Comments on "On Not Having Time to Paint"

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Derek
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Derek
02/04/2010 00:38
There is something very strange about art. I got a set of watercolour paints and some sketch pads around 15 years ago. I did do one painting, just of our back yard and I must admit, in an amateurish way it looked sort of good, but just sort off… But I didn’t want to show it to anybody – ego at work there I think. I have seen my paintbox and sketch pads several times when tidying up my office, but they’ve just been moved from one place to another. It’s as if subconsciously, I am trying to hide them… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
02/04/2010 12:11

Ah yes, and you bring up such an important point, Derek, that all of these crazy ideas we get about good and bad re: our creative work, are really just our ego. The impulse to create and the actual act of creating come from our connection to the divine, one way or another and are pure, wonderful things that we contaminate with our ego thoughts. Of course, we do need a bit of ego to get out work out in the world….

Anen Wayman
Guest
02/05/2010 08:59
TThis is so true… although I do pottery in addition to my writing I’ve wanted to try Chinese brush painting for years and years. Last weekend I took my 16 year old granddaughter to the San Diego Art Museum – and there in the gift shop was a lovely red box full of brushes, ink, colors and instructions for less than $25. Wednesday, instead of potting, I experimented with the brush painting. Then it dawned on me that Lucy, in the studio two doors down teaches that art… and has been for many of the years I’ve been potting and… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
02/05/2010 10:37

Oh, the thought of that red box full of brushes and ink makes my breath catch! And I’m so jealous you took time to experiment with it…which clearly tells me it is time for me to get to the painting.

Leisa A. Hammett
Guest
02/08/2010 09:34

You’re inspiring me today. I have made time for my painting….

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
02/08/2010 10:36

Glad to be of inspiration! I’ll be honest, I’m still working on making time for my painting. But by talking about it and writing about it, I know I’ll get there–the desire is strong. Sometimes life just takes more time than we think it will.

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